When first starting out with baby sign language, you will want to do just a few signs that you repeat over and over. Once your baby learns these first few signs you can expand your repertoire.
Signs referring to important people in your baby’s life are early favorites. Not only will your baby love signing them, adults love teaching baby their sign – so you will get help from your partner, siblings, and relatives.
Mommy is signed by tapping your thumb on your chin. In ASL female signs are usually below the nose, and male signs above the nose. Overall it is a very intuitive sign to learn.
If you have friends or family that spend a lot of time with your baby, they are perfect collaborators to help teach your baby another sign. Have them sign the appropriate sign when they approach your child. For example, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandmother, or grandfather.
Babies love to eat, so start with some signs associated with favorite foods. Learning these signs is very useful, letting baby signal that they are hungry in a constructive way without fussing.
Milk is signed by making opening and closing your hand, like you are milking a cow. This is a very useful sign for babies who are breast feeding or on formula.
More is signed by tapping your finger tips together. This is a very versatile sign useful in many contexts, and is often the first sign learned.
Thank you for an awesome website. My son is two years old and is in perfect health but he is refusing to speak. We have just started doing some of the signs like eat, more, and drink and its working. We are starting to communicate. I love the videos of the person signing. Please keep up the good work.
I am a mother of four and have two children with Learning Differences and sign language helped with frustration and the verbal language delay. Now I am a pre-school teacher and use ASL with all my children even if they are verbal. It’s very helpful with children from different countries who are learning English as a second language and need help bridging the gap!
I like the variety of teaching tools you provide to assist a child with learning to sign. I will return to your site to gather other ideas in the future.
I think blanket is just as important, to be lisited with favorite Toys. (comforts)
My nephew is 6 months and I want to do my H.S. Senior project on teaching him sign language. Do you think if I start now he will be able to sign one or two things within 6 months?
ADMIN – Hi Angela,
I would be confident you could teach him a couple of signs by the time he is one year old – I would expect much more. Of course, all children are different and some have their language window open later than others … but 12 months is a pretty safe bet.
If you write up the project, send it to us and we will publish it on the blog.
Thank you so much for having all of the information on the website, I am a prenatal coordinator and I am able to explain better to parents the benefits of sign language.
ADMIN – Hi Maria,
Glad to hear it was helpful. And thank you for helping to spread Baby Sign Language, we hear so many great stories from parents about it how it was something they enjoyed doing with their baby, made parenting a little easier and helped their child develop.
I have a six month old and am just beginning to teach her how to sign. I am SO anxious to see her making progress! I think this is going to be a great way to communicate early with my baby, and I couldn’t be more excited. Thank you for having this great site with all the answers I need to my signing questions! I will update on progress later!
Thanks for sharing. We used all 4 of the food ideas above and recently posted a blog about it that I wanted to share. Keep up the good work!
I live in The Netherlands and was looking for a good website to find a lot of signs… Thanks so much, I’ve learned a lot. At the moment I’m teaching the American sign language… and sometimes the Dutch signs (just comparing which I find the easiest). Would love to buy the cards, but don’t know if your sending them outside of the USA?
ADMIN – Hi Ramona,
Great to hear! We do ship to the Netherlands (and the rest of the world).
Hi this is Geoffrey. I have a son who is 4 months old and is not deaf. I am deaf and am using this site to teach him to sign. Thank you.
I would like to know some tips on teaching my 18mth old sign language. He is enrolled in Help Me Grow, Early Intervention because he isn’t talking and also may have hearing problems, I was told to check out baby sign language. My son constantly wants me and pulls on me to do whatever he wants and he gets very frustrated when I am not able to understand what he wants. Please send me some tips on starting this journey.
ADMIN – Hi Patience,
We have an set of teaching lessons in the Basics section of the website. The biggest tip is to give him lots of exposure and to the signs being performed in context. The more contextual repetition he gets to the signs, the faster he will learn.
Baby Sign Language is often used by speech therapists as a bridge to talking. As he starts to learn the sings, you can gently ween him off the ‘point and grunt’ method and insist he signs (or talks) to communicate his needs. Our rule is that you don’t have to sign perfectly, but you at least have to try.
I love your site. I have a question though, do you recommend teaching the baby words she already says? My baby says mama and dada, should I teach her to sign them as well.
ADMIN – Hi Jessie,
I would start by teaching the signs they already know. If Baby already knows a few words, the signs will be easier to pick up as an introductory signs. That makes a nice bridge to learning new signs via baby sign language.
Thank you for all of the wonderful videos, along with the descriptions! My daughter wants to keep watching them one after another, how many should you work on per day for a 4 year old?
ADMIN – Hi Michaela,
For older children like a 4-year old, take your cues from the child. When you a child already knows the spoken word, they can have a very high rate of sign acquisition, 3-5 a day would not be unheard of. I would work on a maximum of 10-20 new signs per day, and wait till she starts to master some of those signs before adding new signs.
thank you so much ! i have to tell you that my husband was hesitant at first using this, but when our 14 month little girl came up to him and signed more milk , two signs in one 🙂 he smiled from ear to ear and said ok what else can we teach her !! the whole family is now involved, our two older children LOVE it and we have the grandparents doing it too ! so again thank you so much !!
This site is fantastic! We have been signing with my nephew since he was about 4 months old. Neither his Grandmother nor I have ever signed, so as we learn, he learns. Now we can have actual conversations and know what he needs or if he has an “owie” He loves to sign and right now his 2 favorite signs are More and Cat! Thank you so very much for this site. We love it and now that he is 18 months old, he learns more and more every day. We will continue to sign and get more advanced so that he will be able to have a second language that will help him in his future. He is not hearing imparied nor are we, but he will be able to assist others in his future, and maybe become a translator or educator in this field! Love it!!! You are all awesome!!!!!
I just started signing with my 13month old. She has been really fussy lately with her teeth coming in. In a mater of a week or 2 she knows the sign for eat. Instead of telling me more she just signs food again….. But it saved us a tantrum last night. Will be keeping up at it for sure.
At what age is it best to start?
ADMIN – Hi Jessica,
You can start at any age, but we find 6 months to be the sweet spot. If you start at six months, you can expect to start see some rudimentary signing after about one month.
Starting earlier is great. But, you have to be patient as results will take longer to appear. For example, many people start at birth, and see the first signs 5-6 months later.
Starting later is fine too, but if you leave it too late (beyond 24 months) it is not as useful because baby is already talking.
I started with eat, mom, and dad and am building up. he’s only four months and doesnt sign back but i know with repetition he knows what to expect. We are now adding dog, grandmother, grandfather, and diaper
Thanks for sharing very important information. I have a 1 year old son with down syndrome. Do you think sign language will be of great help to him? will this not hinder him to learn to talk instead?
ADMIN – Hi Candice,
Children with Down Syndrome often have fine motor skills that lag behind their gross motor skills, contributing to speech delay. This is a good situation to use baby sign language. You son can use his gross motor skills to start developing his language skills while he waits for those fine motor skills to develop. This will also help when he starts talking, because the signs will help you understand what he is trying to say avoiding a lot of frustration.
All the studies suggest that sign language acts as a bridge toward talking, helping accelerate speech development in much the same way crawling helps a baby develop their muscles for walking. There has been nothing specifically done on Down Syndrome, but I would expect the same effect. As always I would consult your physician and speech therapist, you and your team will have a much better understanding of the specifics of your child’s situation.
Thank you for showing easy ways of communication. My son is 5 months old & ‘ll definitely teach him to communicate with sign language. I sure this ‘ll help us both to understand each other.
I just wanted to thank you for a great site! I don’t think we as parents could ever say thank you enough for your great resources.
I have just found your website. I wanted to try baby sign language with my daughter who is two years old now and I never got the chance. I just had my son (a month early) and this time I’m definitely sticking to my word and I’m going to teach him this. It’s going to make things sooo much easier!!! Thanks for it being free 🙂
That is so good to hear. Take advantage of all the wonderful material like the baby sign language flash cards and dictionary
Thank you!! I have a twelve week premature baby and this is very helpful for her and I to communicate! We love it and have alot of fun with it! Thank you.
I was so happy to find this site. I have an 18 month old who is not talking yet and still babbling. When his speech therapist suggested sign language I was baffled at first. But now he is talking to me and the stress between us is gone. I now know when he is thirsty, wants more or even wants to read a book now. Now if I can get him to sign mommy which we will be working on next now that I know how to do it.
Great website! Keep up the great work…look forward to trying to learn some signs as my son is only 2 weeks old but will be very useful in the upcoming months to come. Thank you for sharing!
Why is mother the first word? it seems highly sexist that you assume that the child is a female and that the mother is the most important thing in a child’s life. What about single male parents, and stay at home fathers? I guess its okay to be called the second most important parent if you are a Male. What a disgrace!
ADMIN – Hi Brett,
Fair point. Thanks for the reminder.
This is a perfect website.. just what we have been looking for.
Thanks so so much 🙂
This site is great…i tough my oldest son sign language with my own knowlege. I forgot a lot of my ASL…and this site has helped me wonders. I will be teaching my youngest signs soon…he is only 7 weeks right now! Thanks for all the great signs! 🙂
Is never too early but in general you won’t see results until she is about 6 months old
My daughter is 3 months old is it to soon to start teaching her the signs?
I have been signing with my 6 month old daughter for a few months now but the only signs i knew where: more, milk, eat, drink, i love you, thank you and the sign for poop. I stumbled apon this website and OMG what a helpful website. i agree with a previous commenter. this is a great clean website. the videos of the woman actually doing the signs is wonderful! and she is so sweet and happy. This website is going to help me SO very much! thanks for a great website…
keep up the great work!
This site is amazing. Thank you.
Thank you so much!!!! Your site has helped my husband,my daughter & I VERY MUCH!!! I started teaching my daughter signs @ 3 months old. She is now 13 months & knows 22 signs, AMAZING! Your site has helped me to communicate with her, especially while teething. I don’t know what I would’ve done without your help.
My baby has started signing just a few months ago- he loves it! Great website!
Hi, I have twins a boy and a girl and they are now seven months old. I was wondering if you can tell me if there are differences on the speed of learning between girls and boys when you are teaching baby sign language. My boy takes a little longer to learn.
ADMIN – Hi Karla,
Every child is different, but based on our experience the average girl learns sign language (and talking) a little faster than the average boy. There are plenty of exceptions. By the time they are in school the boys have usually caught up.
My son is 7 weeks old. Is it too soon to begin teaching him the signs?
ADMIN – Hi Angela,
Starting earlier is always better, it models to the child that signing is one of the way adults communicate. Just be aware that it will take him a while before he is likely to start signing back.
I just came across this site and I am so thrilled. I have a daughter with a sensorineuro hearing loss who wears hearing aids and I am really enthusiatic about learning sign language. I plan to visit this site every day and learn a few new words at a time so I can teach her 🙂 Thank you for the free video images they are awsome!
Thank you so much. We have a daughter with suspected hearing loss. This is a great primer to help me teach her to communicate while we wait to for her test to be ran.
This is a great site. We just learned my granddaughter has a speech problem and the therapist recommended sign language, imagine my panic. Your site is great and I have already picked up several signs myself to work with her. It is a great for beginners who have no idea what they are doing.
I have a 16 month old. He knows the all done sign. Do you think he to young still. He gets mad that he can’t say what he wants so please some one help me. Thanks for the time, Gunner will be happy if I can get what he wants for once….
Speech therapists often use baby sign language as a bridge to talking. You can certainly teach him some more signs. Since he already knows all done, and since he is older, he will catch on fast. I would do some very practical signs such as mom, dad, more, eat, and water. And then work on some fun signs around a theme (e.g. use some animal flash cards).
this is the most helpful site i have ever found on sign language. i love that as i teach my daughter to do sign language, i too am able to learn. thank you so much for providing this wonderful site.
Thank you so much, I have bookmarked this page.
My wife and I are beginning to teach our five month old in hopes of alleviating some of his frustrations when he needs something.
Thank you for having this very nice clean and free site, its so great! I am a father-to-be, I hope to learn and prepare with my wife so that our child may have every advantage possible in this world.
This is just what I have been looking for to help communicate with my girls easier. Thank you
This website is great, My kids are having so much fun learning to sign! the free pictures and video’s are so helpful and I was suprized how much I have learned in such a short time 🙂
thank you ! i love it. do you have a poster board you can email me?
ADMIN – Hi Cindy,
Take a look at the chart section of the site for a printable wall-chart of the most common baby signs.
thank you for your website. So helpful and saves me a trip to the library. I have 2 kids and babysit 2 more, so this will help tons! Thank you so much!
Thank you!!! I have a 10 weeks baby and this will help me to communicate with him. Great and practical.
Thank you so much for having free pitcures on the web. I am a preschool teacher and the kids love it
this is great