I read a lot about signing with babies while I was pregnant and wasn't sure if it was for us or not, but B's mother knows a bit of ASL and his aunt is an interpreter. I took ASL in college, but don't remember most of it, and I figured this would be a great way to relearn it. The more reading I did on signing with baby, the more determined I was to at least give it a try. We chose to go with ASL instead of baby signing because we already had people in the family who knew ASL and because we wanted the opportunity to take it farther if she really seemed to like it.
Because this question always comes up, I will state right here that Sophie does not have any hearing impairment of which we are yet aware. Some of the reasons we have for choosing to sign with Sophie include increased vocabulary, hands on learning of a second language (yes, ASL is considered an actual language), higher IQ, and an easier time dealing with the terrible twos.
I do believe her vocabulary is much greater because we sign with her. She tries to say the bigger words more often than the smaller words, and I think part of that is because she knows signs for many of the smaller words already, like eat, sleep, and bath. These are all words she'll sign, but might not say. On the other hand, she tries to say words like watermelon, butterfly, and ladybug instead of signing them. She also says/signs principal, imagination, animal, pay attention, and various other words and phrases.
It's impossible to say right now if this will affect her IQ. If it does, great, if not, oh well. I honestly can't see how it will cause any harm. I don't even know if this really will help with the terrible twos. I do know she is able to tell us better why she's crying, if she's hurt or tired or hungry. Tonight is a perfect example: we were all sitting at the table eating dinner and Sophie was happy, eating her dinner and talking to us the entire time. All of a sudden, she went from happy to screaming mad and without her signing, I don't know how long it would have taken us to figure out that she was tired. Even if she would have said the word sleep (which she has from time to time), we wouldn't have been able to understand her because she was screaming so much.
We use the Signing Time video series (which can be found on some PBS stations, check your local guide) and Sophie loves watching this more than any other show (we've tried several others, believe me, nothing is as good as Signing Time). She is constantly asking for Rachel and Signing Time. It's one of the few things that will actually slow her down. She will even try to sing the songs, too. Signing Time has worked very well for us and I would recommend it to anyone trying to learn ASL. Sophie has all the flashcards they have available right now and she will literally beg for these. Unfortunately, she dumps them, and then gets up and winds up stepping on them, slipping and sliding everywhere, so I don't let her play with them on her own very often.
I've gotten quite a few questions about signing with Sophie as well as a little bit of criticism. I can honestly say Sophie appears to genuinely enjoy signing with us, and this is the main reason we've continued signing with her.
I am always more than happy to answer any questions anyone might have about Sophie and signing. :)
In the video, we are going through her flashcards. This was taken Aug 3, 2007, and there is already a huge difference in how much she knows and how well she signs. It's a bit long at 6:46 minutes, but even if just the first minute or so is viewed, many signs can be seen.