Teach Your Baby To Talk With Baby Sign Language

One of the things that both hubby and I do with the kids is use baby sign language. We started with Tater when he was less than a year old. We also have been doing it months with the twins, and I’ll be honest, they aren’t catching on as quickly as Tater did. But we continue to sign because repetition is very important to their learning the signs!

When I say baby sign language, I’m not talking advanced sign language! I mean a few simple signs that help the kids be able to better communicate with us. Signs like more, all done, milk, please, thank you, mommy, daddy…you get the idea.

Now that Tater talks constantly and doesn’t stop even though we try to bribe him to be quiet talks and communicates like a little person, he isn’t interested in signing. He sometimes says “I want milk” and also does the sign for milk. Or he’ll say “I want more” and make the sign as well. I don’t even think he realizes he is doing it. And if we are signing to the babies he does, too. Yes, baby sign language is very cool and really helps your little ones communicate their wants and needs.

Baby Sign Language Basics

Introducing Sign Language And A Few Basic Signs
Baby sign language is a way of teaching your baby to communicate by way of special hand gestures. Based on ASL (American Sign Language), it is a simplified version for babies and children. Baby Sign Language is fun, free and it really works! You can start to sign from birth. Read on to find out more, and for a few basic starter signs…

How To Start
You can teach your baby to talk...not with his voice but with his hands! Baby sign language is both easy and fun to teach. And babies pick up on it quickly! It’s best to begin with signs you can use on a daily basis, such as Mommy, Daddy, Milk and More. More is (probably not surprisingly) often the first sign a baby learns. Signs that represent something exciting to your baby will be easier to learn – begin with these starter signs then you can build up your repertoire to include other objects, ideas and emotions.

How To Sign
You need to make the sign every time you say the relevant word to your baby. Say the word that goes with the sign clearly, with good eye contact, while pointing to the thing or person you are describing. Be sure to sign when your baby is alert and not fussing, using an object which is exciting to him, such as Milk or Mommy. Practice the signs beforehand so you feel confident and clear about what you are doing. It’s important to repeat the sign as often as possible – make the sign and say the word every time you do an action or use an object.

Be Patient
Don’t expect too much too soon. Your baby is unlikely to be signing for more milk if he is only 4 months old and you’ve been signing to him for a week! Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of Baby Sign Language, found that a typical baby who starts learning signs at seven months old needs about two months of repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it.

Basic Starter Signs:
MOMMY

To sign Mommy extend and spread apart your fingers. With your pinkie facing forward, tap your thumb on your chin. This is the sign for Mommy.

DADDY

To sign Daddy, extend and spread out your five fingers on your strong hand. Tap your hand on your forehead. Done right you will look like a turkey.

MILK
The sign for Milk is a lot like milking a cow, but without the vertical motion – you are just squeezing the udder. Take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat. You will notice most babies have trouble moving their fingers together this way, but any kind of repeated squeezing and relaxing of the hand is likely Milk.

MORE
To do the sign for More, flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly. Baby will often simplify More by clapping their fists together. As they get older and more proficient you may want to encourage the more correct sign of flattening out their hands and creating the O shape with their thumbs as a fun way to help them develop fine motor skills.

Thanks Misty at BabySignLanguage.com for providing me with this information and some easy to use baby sign language signs to start with! It looks super easy and fun, right? If you want to learn more signs, be sure to check out BabySignLanguage.com. Check them out on Facebook, too!

Do you use baby sign language with your children? What are the signs you use most often? Our kids use milk and more the most often.

If you haven’t signed, but plan to try it out, make sure to let me know how it goes! It’s a lot easier than you might think!

Comments

  1. I remember our oldest granddaughter using these signs when she was really little! Everyone was amazed...especially other children. It's a great way for kids to communicate before they can speak!
  2. Losing Brownies says:
    I was just telling Gadget Guy how much I wanted to sign with The Boy! Thanks for posting this!
  3. We did signs with my daughter, Katie, and I am so glad that we did, as it turned out that she was speech delayed and it was such a beautiful way for her to communicate with us.

    Now, she is incredibly verbal, but we are working with my 10-month-old son and she can recall nearly all of her 100+ signs. At one point, she was learning a new sign every single day and was actually making up signs that were unique to her. Her "milk" and "please" weren't the standard signs. But, as long as she was consistent, we let her create her own signs. It was remarkable to witness.

    When we began working with our speech therapist, she said that so many parents are reluctant to teach baby signs, as they feel it will actually prevent verbal speech and she expressed that there is absolutely no truth to that. Teaching children how to express themselves actually reinforces the concept of communication and encourages them to try to speak.

    Baby signs allowed my daughter to communciate when she physically couldn't and I believe that reducing her frustration level as her personality was forming was so important.

    And that's my short answer. ;)
  4. Sheena Simpson says:
    We did it as well. And now we have expanded to more asl, the kids are considered biligual! Its an amazing thing to watch you baby "talk" and in our case with our youngest asthma may have saved her life. Cause she would tell us when her chest hurt.
  5. We tried doing "all done" with my first son. Did the sign, said the words, he looked at me like I was nuts, and said "all done." He was in two-word sentences at 15 months.

    My daughter was severely speech delayed. She learned a few signs (all done, more, milk) but didn't really seem interested in learning more, despite her frustration. Luckily she needed only 6 months of speech therapy to get up to speed.

    My third is also likely delayed. Altho he says "more" and "done" which are big ones. But no interest in signs, either. What is it w/ my kids?
  6. we did some simple sign language with all of our kids, you are right, it is easy. I think it gets much easier as you get used to doing it.

    we used please, more, thank you, stop, milk, cookie, all-done.

    I still use stop and thank you with my older kids now, it's very useful to remind them to use their manners when I am across the room from them. :)
  7. This is SO interesting to me! I think the whole speech/language thing with little ones is mind-boggling, and this is so cutting edge (well, to me!).
    As a side note, I'm pretty sure my teenager has tried signing messages to me, but since it's behind closed doors and I don't actually see it, I am choosing to ignore it for now.
  8. I should practice it more often.. thank you for sharing this.

    Amiko
    http://mynameamiko.blogspot.com
  9. Great post! We were considering doing it when Owen was a tiny baby but never really got around to it. I guess today is as good a day as ever to start right?! :)
  10. I did sign with each kid-the basics. It helped with that transition before they had words. My favorite was "all done" both boys signed that with vigor!
  11. Well duh. I sign with my kid. He's Deaf. ;)
  12. This is interesting. My grandson is almost 2 now, so I don't know how much he'd pay attention. But the granddaughter is due Dec 1. Maybe it would be a good idea to start them together.
  13. I did this with the twins I nannied for and they would continue to sign sometimes even though they were speaking 11 word sentences by two years old!

    We plan on doing this with our daughter. I'm glad to know you can start as early as around 5 months, and it could take about two months for it to catch on. I think a lot of people may give up because they don't see instant results.

    Thanks for the post! :)
  14. We've been signing with Georgia since she was 4 months old, and it's been a great experience for our family. I love seeing her vocabulary increase, and watching her sign and talk at the same time. It's also been great to see her reduced frustration at trying to tell us what she wants.
  15. signs are great! i used a bunch with kate and some with maddie.
  16. We have done a few signs with my boys, as does their daycare. It has been soooo helpful.

    Even though Buster is 100% verbal and speaks in sentences, he still signs please as he says it. It melts my heart.
  17. Aging Mommy says:
    Great idea for a post Natalie! We like you did just a few basic signs with our daughter when she was a baby and it was so thrilling when she picked them up, finally communication felt real!
  18. I never did this with my boys, though my four year old is learning it in preschool, in his music class. He loves it.
  19. Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds says:
    We signed a little with my daughter but we didn't start until she was 2 and already had a speech delay. It was great to have some way to communicate. If I had it to do over again I would have started signing at the very beginning. I think it's great for all kids whether they have a hearing loss or not!
  20. Sluiter Nation says:
    This is very neat. We only taught Eddie "all done", but he does it for everything because it's fun. I wish we had tried harder and done more with him!
  21. This is one of the things I wish we'd been better about with Alex. Although he seems to have developed his own signs. Including grabbing the spoon and trying to feed himself to signal more.

    Sigh.
  22. WTH am I Doing? says:
    I did basic signs with Boo.I got a book & used the Baby Einstein "My First Signs" (or something like that) DVD. He really only used More, Milk, & All Done, that I remember, but I wasn't as diligent with him as I should've been. It was helpful to be able to communicate directly a little bit before he was verbal. :)
  23. I never used this before with my girls but I think that I may try with my son who's almost 8 months old.
    My question is how do I get everyone else on board? He goes to a sitter part of the week and grandma's for the other part.
  24. We love sign language in our house. Myles my three year old is still learning new signs. I totally recommend Baby Signing time videos for your twins, they are fun to watch and they will learn a lot of really useful signs to help cute frustration. Also it teaches you ASL so they are learning a real second language!

    http://babysigningtime.com
  25. I LOVE this idea! I definitely want to try it with my little one when he gets here. So much better than just guessing what they want. I'm putting this one in my bookmarks so I can teach him when he gets here.
  26. We've come a long way in raising the babies! What a great idea -- especially, for pre-schools where every child uses their own favorite 'word'... the signs are universal and can be a big help for the teachers... thanks for sharing a very informative guest poster... come visit when you can...
  27. What a great idea, I wish I'd known about it when bratchild was little.
  28. I took years of sign language in college because I think its soo beautiful.
  29. Great post! I actually just started doing signs with my now seven month old daughter about a month ago! We have started with the signs for Milk, sleep, bedtime, and mommy. It's great that you are also practicing signs with your little ones! And, thanks for the wonderful tips!

    -Jessica
  30. moveovermarypoppins says:
    I did it with some of the kids I've nannied for with great results, some with mixed.

    It's cool, isn't it?
  31. mykidsmommy says:
    I am midst potty training my 21 month son and taught him the sign for "potty". Now he signs to tell me when he has gone pee/poop!
  32. The Urban Cowboy says:
    That is very cool, unfortunately, I only know one sign...and I don't think I will say what it means here. :)
  33. Jessica Anne says:
    I did a lot with my first, a little less with my second, and am doing just all done and more so far with #3. She's starting to do them, so maybe I'll do more. But no more "milk". That was my second's favorite and when I weaned her, she'd give me big puppy dog eyes and sign milk. Oh the guilt! Not this time.
  34. We did this with our oldest and milk, more and all done were definitely the most popular. And he too is a talk nonstop kind of kid.
  35. Carolyn Whitley says:
    That's an interesting point! Not only can you and your husband communicate with your twins, but so can your little boy! You ALL learn to communicate together much earlier.

    I love sign language for babies, an excellent way to understand them before their verbal skills have developed.

    Good post.
  36. I relish, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye Bettie recently posted..BettieMy Profile

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