Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Top 5 Easy Tips to Baby Sign Language

Did it ever occur to you what your baby is thinking when she’s staring at you or at the things surrounding her crib? How many times have you asked her what she likes to do or what she wants to eat? Were you ever confused as to what's really bothering her? Were you constantly juggling between a list of TO DOs as to what would really please her? Ever wished that your baby can just “talk” back?

With sign language, parents can take advantage of their babies’ natural capabilities to communicate more readily, reducing the stress for the whole family! When toddlers are able to convey the things that they want and that they know they are understood, their level of frustration diminishes significantly. Tantrums are usually caused by toddlers’ inability to communicate their needs and/or wants. Using sign language, parents are able to communicate with their babies in as early as 6 months and reduce the number of tantrums in the long run. Fewer tantrums mean a healthier, better relationship!

As they grow, infants develop fine muscles in their hands and arms even before they develop those required for speech. Signing with your baby is easy and natural. You can start between 6 to 9 months when your baby starts interacting or learns how to mimic. It is never too early or too late to begin with. Just keep in mind that signing is not an overnight success. Learning how to use specific hand shapes and motions to convey words takes practice, patience, and that “right moment” to use it.

Begin with the Basics
Start with 3 to 5 signs for things you do frequently. The most common signs to start with are MILK, MORE, and EAT. If you know more signs, you can sign more. But, if you are learning along with your child, a handful of signs is a manageable number to start with. Don't push the signs – your child will develop at her own pace. If your baby seems resistant, don't push the issue.

Use at the Right Moment
Use the signs every time you are in the right situation. For example, when you nurse or give your baby milk bottle, say "Do you want some milk?" and sign MILK (like pretending to thumb suck or something similar).

Add a Bit of This, a Bit of That
As your child learns a few signs and begins to sign back, start adding other signs like FRUITS (apple, banana, etc.), THIRST (drink as if holding a glass) and HUNGRY (rubbing tummy). Continue to use the signs you already use as you add new ones. Or you can follow your baby. Sometimes, your baby will make her own signs up. If that’s the case, make sure you use her signs, as she will remember these easily.

Patience is a Virtue
It takes babies time to learn to sign, but they can recognize the signs long before they can mimic them. For example, babies will often show their anticipation when you sign MILK by grunting or panting. It's a positive sign that they are beginning to understand the purpose of signing. Furthermore, make it a family habit. Anyone your baby interacts with regularly should know the most important signs. This will help with retention.

Parents Need to Study Too
Consider taking a special class to learn the keys to successful signing. Or study at home via self-taught, self-paced signing videos and have fun learning with the entire family. Or check out a book or web site for more information.

Learning should be fun for kids – it’s one way of keeping them interested!


  1. Sounds like a great idea and should be easy to implement

  2. My baby used to point to her milk whenever she wants one. Then she evolved to just raising her forefinger if she wants milk (kinda like calling the attention of the waiter).

    Good thing she can talk in sentences now.

  3. Studies have actually proven that teaching a baby to sign not only relieves communication frustrations but also helps to boost their IQ, which is a pretty nice side benefit :o) As the parent of a deaf child I'd also add that the more kids running around out there signing, the better as most deaf children are now mainstreamed in public schools.

  4. I have an uncle who runs a deaf academy who's neither deaf or has someone in the family who is one, but he is a very dedicated man.

    If I may ask Jen, does your daughter see herself different from other (hearing) kids?

  5. Thanks for posting this baby signing information!

    Can you please also let your readers know that they can pick up a free baby sign language poster at: www.babiesandsign.com

    Baby signing is amazing, and we encourage all enthusiastic parents to do so! :-)

    Thanks again for your wonderful information on this!


  6. Amazing baby signing, great LOL