Baby Signing: Giving Your Child the Advantage

Baby SigningIt is not difficult at all to get your baby signing. As a matter of fact, teaching your child sign language is actually the very same method used to learn any kind of language. You start with the simplest words and as the skills grow, you expand the list of words. Before your child can even sign properly or begin to talk, you can start teaching him or her sign language. This is usually between the ages of 6 and 9 months. To sign gestures, it takes hand coordination. Here is one course on American Sign Language that will help you learn how to sign for colors, food, feelings and animals, among other things. This course is a great foundation for building a broad vocabulary for yourself which you can eventually teach your infant.

Start Slowly

It can make a world of difference when your child knows the sign for ‘drink,’ for instance. Your child’s level of frustrations will dramatically drop the more words he or she is able to sign. Of course, your baby’s sign language does not guarantee that there will no longer be tantrums or tears. However, it will spare both you and your infant loads of stress when they want something basic like ‘food’ and are not getting any. You will need to have your child’s complete attention when you start to teach baby signing. You can begin with words for stuff that involve your baby such as ‘milk,’ ‘eat’ or ‘toy. Try not to teach too many words too soon and start with just a few signs.  Some parents begin with words that are need-based such as ‘drink,’ while others use words that generate the baby’s interest and excitement like ‘bird’ or ‘dog.’ As a parent, you know your child best and can make decisions about which route to take when you embark on teaching baby signing. In the event you have just ‘brought baby home’ here is a course that could equip you with the skills of knowing how to care for your child in the first six months of life.  In addition, it teaches you cues on how to tell if your child is hungry, which could lay the groundwork for signing for ‘food.’

Every Chance You Get

The moment you make the decision to teach your child sign language and have gone through the course, it is a good idea to try to use every chance or opportunity you get. When you hold a book, read it and put it away, go ahead and sign for the word. For instance, make sure that your child is looking at the book and sign for the word ‘book.’  You are trying to get your child to connect the object to the sign as well as to eventually make the sign. Remember to use the same signs for the same objects, emphasizing the main word and using a lot of repetition. This way, your baby can hear and see the connection clearly.

The key to success is repetition. When you teach baby signing to your child, it will take a lot of patience and consistency. You will want to make the same signs again and again until your baby responds. No two babies respond at the time. This could take a couple of months or a couple of weeks. Just keep remembering that it will happen and you just need to be patient.

As your baby grows older, you might continue to build the vocabulary for signing. Some babies develop as many as fifty signing words before they even start talking! As much as you can, teach your child with determination. As your baby learns, you can add more words and even small sentences. There is really no such as thing as signing too much.

Starting to Sign

When your child stars to sign you can start adding more words. After your baby understands the basics such as ‘milk,’ ‘more’ and ‘eat,’ you can start adding signs for ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mommy as well as favorite foods such as ‘Potato.’ Words that express emotions can also be added after a while such as ‘love,’ ‘wet’ and ‘pain.’  Use the same rules the same way you did when teaching the very first words and actions for signing.  Here is an article you might like about learning the sign language for the alphabet.

There are also simple gestures you can do for signing certain word:

  • Book- with palms up, hold your hands flat
  • Car-Steer a pretend ‘wheel’
  • Rabbit-hold up 2 fingers or wrinkle up your nose.
  • Food- Touch your lips with your finger tips

Your Child’s Pace

Keep in mind that your baby will learn at his or her own pace. Make signing part of your routine every day and one day soon your child will respond with a signing gesture as well. It is also important to remember that when your infant makes the first baby signing gesture, it may not look exactly like your own actions. At first, it may be hard to recognize as a hand sign and could even look uncoordinated.  For this reason, right from the start you need to be extra attentive to the hand movements of your infant in order to recognize that he or she is finally making an attempt to use baby signing. As you begin to prepare yourself to teach signing, you may also want to prepare your child by making sure he or she is calm and ready to learn. Having a hard time calming your child or don’t know where to begin? Here is one course that teaches you how to calm your child, which could help tremendously when it is time to teach signing.

Forming Sentences

A baby also learns how to form sentences with baby signing. For instance, babies who want milk can sign this desire. Conveying these requests forms the foundation for using complex sentences at an earlier age. If your child learns the word for dog and later expands this vocabulary, he or she can then later communicate that it is a ‘pretty dog.’


Learning sign language gives your baby empowerment. After a time, your child may even take control or begin a conversation using signing words. When they want something, they know they can ask for it and will get a response from you. Your baby can even let you know when something is interesting to him or her. For example, when your child sees an airplane, he or she can sign that they like it and you can then expand the conversation and communicate the airplane’s shape, size and color. Your child then communicated something and learned something new.

Intellectual Benefits

Using baby signing has numerous intellectual benefits. From the time they are born, they begin learning and soak up information from the world around them like tiny sponges. Anything that assists them in learning more effectively and more rapidly will benefit their development. There are a lot of different ways that signing stimulates your baby’s intellect. For one thing, it increases your child’s vocabulary and the speed of verbal language development. It reinforces verbal language use and promotes early literacy. Once you open a book and point to a picture as you make a sign for it, your child will relate the picture and word in his mind. Many parents fear that baby signing will slow down speech development but in fact, the opposite is true.

Enhancing Language

Signing may actually help your child learn to speak and improve his or her vocabulary. Baby signing is really not about replacing but rather about enhancing language. You need to use signs along with normal speaking so that your child can make the connection between the word and the sign. When teaching signing, you need to make sure that your baby is focusing on you and concentrating on what you say and do. Normally, gestures are part of communicated. Many younger kids will pick up actions and gestures naturally, like in action songs or waving good-bye. They do this before they know the actual words. The best part is that aside from increasing your child’s communication skills, you will love the fact that you know exactly what is going on inside your child’s head. The extra attention and time you are putting into teaching your child to communicate is one bonding experience that many parents find absolutely worth it.

Age to Start

Most parents want to know what the best age to start teaching sign language happens to be. This is a common question and generally it is agreed that you can begin as early as six months old for almost any baby. Some say that between six and nine months is ideal. The recommendation is usually for parents to start signing in front of their infant using gestures with their hand. Typically, between 6 to 9 months, your child will make their first sign.  Teaching sign language to your baby will require your child to focus on the movement of your hand. The moment you notice that your baby can consistently keep eye contact is when you can start to teach signing.

Motor Skills

To make specific movements and hand shapes, your baby will also need to have some motor skills. It has been found that babies who regularly see sign language starting the age of 6 months will normally start signing by themselves at the age of 8 months.

Every Baby is Different

Naturally, no two babies are alike. Some develop later or earlier than others. If you sense that your child has an advanced intellect, you can begin to sign at two or three months. At the same time, your child is never too old to learn how to sign. Even babies that begin at 9 until 36 months  benefit from baby signing. One way you can judge whether or not your baby is ready is to check if he or she is able to understand simple signs for ‘bye’ or ‘hi.’

A 2-Way Conversation

The moment your child is able to sign back, you can start enjoying a 2-way conversation. For instance, your child might tell you that he saw a ‘truck’ and you can say that it is “Daddy’s truck.’ This way, you spend more time talking about topics your child likes which also makes a great bonding experience.

Did this article help?  If you already have a signing baby and want to get ready about teaching older children check out this course which will equip you with vocabulary teaching skills you need for kids of every age.