Baby Sign Language

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One of the biggest frustrations a new parent can have is not being able to communicate with their child who's still too young to speak. But now there's a new kind of baby talk that's helping mom, dad and baby better communicate.

For years, parents of deaf children have known that communicating with babies can begin at a much earlier age through sign language. And now parents of hearing children are learning the same lessons.

Eight-month-old Ryan Sweeney can't talk but he can tell his mom when he's hungry, when he wants more and when he wants up. No, it's not a sixth sense; it's baby sign language.

"I found a lot of research that shows that babies can comprehend language skills before they're ever able to talk," says Beth Sweeney, Ryan's mom.

Beth Sweeney works at the Center for Sight and Hearing in Rockford, so she's used to using sign language.

"We like to do 'more' because that way we know he wants more and we're working on him show us he's hungry by showing us the sign for food."

Baby sign language has become a nationwide trend. Most teachers say once a baby is eight to ten months old it's okay to try it out.

Sweeney says she already feels like a better mom.

"It makes me feel more secure...every parent has insecurities and it's nice to be able to say I think he's hungry because he's pointing to his mouth."

Once Ryan's mastered the first three signs Sweeney's taught him. The next sign he'll learn is mommy.