Why I Use Baby Sign Language (and Why I Love It)

Basic Baby Sign Language

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“You will not believe this!  She just signed ‘more’,” my husband hollered from the kitchen.  I raced downstairs to see my husband’s astonished face.  He couldn’t believe that our daughter just used the correct sign language for “more” as he was feeding her some food.

This was just yesterday.  Our daughter is currently ten months old, and although she says a fair amount of words for her age, I still love it when she communicates with me through sign language because I then know exactly what she wants.

My daughter is the fourth baby I’ve used basic baby sign language with.  I used it with my son four years ago and two brothers I used to nanny for years back.

I like using baby sign language because it’s simple and it works.

Why Baby Sign Language?

It’s tough in those moments when your baby is crying for something, and you just can’t figure out what that something is.  Especially if she is under a year old and is not really forming words yet.  That was the problem that initially led me to try out baby sign language with the first little boy I watched.  I had heard good things about it and wondered if it would actually work with a baby not yet speaking.

The first word he signed to me was cat as his black cat walked by us in the kitchen.  I knew then we were on to something.

I started to show him basic signs at mealtime like “please”, “more”, “eat”, and “all done”.  And I experienced great satisfaction when he began to sign them back to me.  What was even more exciting is that he seemed to start talking even faster once he began forming words.

The most amazing part is that baby sign language has worked for each of the four babies I’ve tried it with, all starting under the age of 1!

When to start Baby Sign Language?

If you’re thinking of trying out sign language with your baby, you may be wondering when you should start.  My advice is, it never hurts to start early.  One of my favorite books on baby sign language that I still use as a resource all the time, says that you can introduce your baby to basic signs around 6 months of age, and you should expect that he will begin signing back to you around 11 months.

In many cases, you may find yourself surprised to see your baby signing to you even earlier than you’d expected.  This has been the case with each of the four babies I’ve used it with.

Basic Signs to Start With

So, you’ve decided to start signing with your baby, but where should you start?

I recommend thinking of the most common routines you perform each day and teach and practice your first signs from those routines.  For instance, if your baby nurses multiple times per day, you may wish to start with “milk” as your first sign.

My children like to eat, so it’s no surprise that the first three signs I taught them all had to do with food.  I taught “milk”, “more”, and “all done” to my daughter first.  Now that she’s mastered those, I’ve added “sleep” or “night-night” as I call it, to our practice. I find it adorable that right before her bedtime, she takes her hand and signs “sleep” to my face instead of her own!

(In the pictures below, I’ve used my son as my model since my infant daughter was unable to pose due to her afternoon nap.♥)

“All done” is a good sign to use at the end of meal time. Though it’s not the technical way, in our house, we basically wave jazz hands to signify “all done”.

 

The “milk” sign is made by closing and opening your fingers, like milking a cow. Appropriate, I know!

 

The “more” sign is made by touching fingers from both hands together and apart.

 

For “sleep”, hand goes in front of your face and moves down to your mouth.

Are They Getting It?

Maybe you’ve been trying basic signs with your baby for a few weeks, and he has yet to sign back to you.  It can get frustrating and make you want to stop.

But all babies are brilliant in their own way!  They are naturally curious beings, and I guarantee your baby is watching you, even if he doesn’t seem to be staring directly at you.  I’m often astonished when my daughter shows me a sign that I really don’t remember her seeing.  She pays more attention than I think!

If you’re just getting started on this journey of baby sign language, keep signing as you go through your every day routine.  You never know how close you are to your baby making his first sign.  And once that happens, cue the cuteness!


Do you sign with your baby?  If so, what are the signs you use the most?  Comment below!

Here’s my pick on a great resource to get you started with baby sign language.  Check it out!

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