Baby Sign Language 101

Somehow during the blog transfer, this post was deleted. So I thought I would post it again since it was one of my first posts! It made me kinda sad watching it…Little Brother was so tiny!
Has your baby ever known exactly what she wanted…she just couldn’t communicate it to you? Perhaps she screamed and screamed until you finally realized what could be wrong–sound familiar?


A baby’s motor abilities tend to develop faster than her spoken language. That is why baby sign language has increasingly grown in popularity in recent years. Through signing, babies are communicating what they want/need before they can even speak.


There are many ways you can teach signs to your baby (and a million books and DVDs that will tell you how), but it is really quite simple. You don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on a “Baby Signing Kit” (unless you are so inclined). I have found with my own children that a baby really only needs to know a few simple signs that communicate his basic needs. Therefore meal time is a perfect time to begin modeling those signs.


Here is a video of a few basic signs:  milk, eat, more, finished (or all done). I also included “please” and “thank you” at the end because babies really can have manners! :)


The best time to start introducing these signs is when your baby starts eating solid foods (around 6 months). Just model it for a while (while saying the word aloud) and eventually you can hold your child’s hand and show him how to make the signs. It will most likely take several months for your baby to sign on his own and it normally occurs a little before his first birthday (or perhaps sooner–depending on how consistent you have been). Again, keep in mind that every baby is different!

It is so fun to see your baby sign for the first time–and it will relieve many frustrations for both you and him!


  1. I am the BIGGEST fan of baby sign language. We have taught both of our kids to sign, and you are so right…it relieves so many of their frustrations. My daughter would cry and cry when she needed help with something, until she learned how to sign for help, and then the crying stopped. And like you say, it doesn’t take much time, it’s just making a point of doing the sign as you say something. Great post!

  2. I’ve always been interested in ASL so when I found out about baby signing I was looking at every book and site I could find about it! We did sign with our first son, I have a video of him signing somewhere..I tried doing some sign with my daughter, but I was so busy with 2 babies 17 months apart that I didn’t really keep with it. I want to sign more with my 3rd though (who is 4 months now.) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I couldn’t agree more! We did baby signing with both our girls, and the results have been unbelievable! Decreased crying and frustration, increased vocabulary development, earlier spoken language, and a great bridge between their first and second languages … I could go on and on about it! (Actually, I have! You can read more at )

    And I also agree that you don’t need a particular ‘program’ or class to do it, unless you want to. I did it on my own as there were no classes around. You can even make up your own signs – as long as you and your baby understand them, that’s all that counts.

  4. I love baby sign language. One tip I always say is to also teach a few signs of things your baby loves, such as “ball” or “outside” or “flower”. I found by doing that my baby learned to use signs for many things and not just at meal time. My oldest daughter loved signing so much as a baby, she knew about 80 signs by a yr old. She learned to talk early and is now going to grade 1. I just say this because I know some parents worry their kids will not learn to talk if they sign…it’s just not the case (kinda like if kids crawl they will not learn to walk~ silly)
    Anyway, great post!

  5. My older son (almost 3) pretty much taught himself sign language while watching the videos while I would shower and get ready in the morning. I had tried a few basic signs when he first started eating and I was TOTALLY surprised when he responded randomly with a sign. He has helped me teach his younger brother (19 months) some signs recently too, although he isn’t into the videos. His favorite sign is cracker, but he doesn’t like to eat crackers. It’s funny when people come to visit who don’t know the signs–“I know he’s telling me something, but I have no idea what he wants!” :) I’m pro-signing!!

  6. We LOVED teaching my son how to sign as an infant and agree with the decreased frustration on both ends! My daughter on the other hand is working hard to prove that she will do things on her own time!! We have been working with her with signs since she was about 5-6 months old, more consistently from about 9 until present of 13 months and I have only personally seen her sign twice :( My 4 year old son started choosing signing movies at the library to learn more to try to teach her, and will sit at the table signing more, please, drink, eat, full, all done, etc One day she will decide that she wants to tell us what she is thinking (just like I’m sure when she starts talking we will have full sentences!) My husband and I still love signing simple things to our son, yes and no seem to be our favorites!

  7. Totally agree! My two and half year old is now speaking pretty well, but will sometime still sign certain things. Teaching him sign language relieved a lot of his frustrations (and mine). My one and half year old marches to the beat of his own drum and is a little slower to pick up on the signs, but we continue to work with him daily.

  8. as a former preschool special education teacher, and baby sign language instructor… i can’t say how valuable signing has been in the many children i’ve come across… especially my son! i can go on and on with all of the moments that my son, now almost three, overcame what could be very frustrating situations because of his early ability to communicate. aside from that, the trust that it formed between him and us, was amazing… he knew we understood his needs, and relied on that from such an early age.

    thanks for sharing…

  9. We signed for probably 5-6 months before we got any response from our daughter, but now she regularly tells us food, drink, all done, bath, etc. She’s made up a few of her own, and we just go with it. While I’m pretty much against little ones watching tv of any kind, the one video we do watch occasionally is the Baby Einstein Baby Wordsworth video, which shows sign language of words around the house. I’ve even learned a few things!

  10. HUGE advocate of sign language. Studies have shown it can help a child speak earlier and it can help higher IQ. My husband and I sign with my son all the time. I often have to explain to people that it doesn’t hinder a child’s language development and that sign language did not cause their sister’s friend’s brother’s daughter (you get the point) to not speak. Again, wonderful information and very well written! :]

  11. I am the daughter of a pediatrician, the former babysitter of many many signing infants, and the mommy of a 1 year old. I hate to be the devils advocate, but in development of language the frustration is a huge motivation in learning to speak. My dad tries very hard to guide new moms who have every intention of doing it all for their child to purely consider the way we all grow – by overcoming. He sends about 85% of his patients who’ve used signing to a speech pathologist at some point in their early years. He is seeing the connection after practicing for 25 years, that speech delays can also lead to many learning handicaps. There are always two sides to a coin! Sometimes creating an easier way for them, isn’t always the best way.

    Also, I tried emphasizing repetative sounds to my little one as a baby and at 5 months she was calling me “momma” and her dad “dada” to get our attention. Other favorite words of hers at the 5 to 6 mo stage were hat, bird, and diap (for diaper)! :D

  12. The video on this page is not available. I would really like to see it. Can you upload it again please?
    Thank you in advance

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