Baby Sign Language Quick Start

This guide will have you ready to start teaching your child Baby Sign Language in just 5 minutes. It includes:

  1. Starter Signs: Learn mom, dad, eat, milk, and dog.
  2. Teaching Signing: Learn how to teach your child the signs.
  3. Signing Kit: Get guaranteed faster results with the Baby Sign Language Kit.

Baby Sign Language Basics

1. Your First Five Signs

We start by introducing signs that your baby will use frequently every day and will be motivated to learn. We recommend the following five signs:

(If those signs don’t make sense for your family, there are other great ┬ástarter sign options on the Top 10 Starter Signs page.)

Top Five Starter Signs (Mom, Dad, Eat, Milk, Dog)

2. Teaching Your Baby

These four principles show you how to teach sign language to your baby:

  • Fun – Keep signing playful and focused on motivating signs.
  • Repetition – Incorporate signing in your daily routines.
  • Encourage – Reward progress with praise & attention.
  • Expand – Grow vocabulary based on your baby’s interests.
Teaching Baby Sign Language Quick Start

3. Sign Faster and Easier
with the Full Kit

Our award-winning Baby Sign Language Kits get your baby signing faster.

  • DVDs – Your baby learns to sign while being entertained by the music of Rachel Coleman & the Signing Time Crew.
  • Flash Cards – Extend your baby’s vocabulary to people, foods, and animals with these sturdy flash cards.
  • Teaching Guide – Utilize advanced topics for faster results, potty training, and transitioning to speech.
  • Signing Dictionary – Have the right sign at your fingertips to satisfy your child’s curiosity.
  • Wall Chart – Help grandparents, babysitters, and caregivers learn the basic signs.

85 Responses to “Baby Sign Language QuickStart Basics”

  1. Tiffany

    Just a quick question. I have been signing to my 15 month old for a few months it started out with her coming up with her own sign for all done and so I decided I would throw out a few signs here and there and she loved it. so I started teaching her new words recently and she learned 3 (mom, dad and more) in just a matter of hours. It only took me showing her maybe 5-6 times, same way with please. is this fast learning for her age or is it normal that she picks up that quickly? I am learning the signs as I teach her and at this point I am wondering if I should learn to sign fluently so she can as well.

    ADMIN – Hi Tiffany,

    This is pretty normal for her age. Soon you will begin to see a ton of progress with speech. Consider teaching her new signs in the context of play and song with the final goal of having a child who has the ability to learn other languages.

  2. Shanshan

    My son is 13 months old and we have been doing sign language since he was 6 months old (mainly more, drink, please, thank you, poo, wee), but he hasn’t picked up anything. He completely understands what we are saying, but will not sign anything. For example instead of signing ‘more’ if he wants more food, he will point to what he wants, even if we encourage him to ask for more by signing he refuses. We’ve also tried to get him to do the signs by moving his hands for him but he really doesn’t like anyone touching his hands.
    Is there anything else that we can be trying or do we continue to persevere?

    ADMIN – Hi Shanshan,

    If your baby is able to convey his needs that is good enough. The purpose of sign language is to make communication easy. Sometimes this means pointing. If you want to give it a final try you may want to consider teaching him songs that incorporate signing.

  3. Kayla

    My child is almost 2. And was half hearing for a little while the doctors not sure how long. He is vocal doesn’t have many words yet. He has tubes in his ears now and doctors say his hearing is normal range now. He hasn’t caught on to speaking yet so should I start sign language

    ADMIN – Hi Kayla,

    That is a questions best suited for his speech therapist. Generally speaking the answer is yes.

  4. Clara

    I have a daughter who is currently 34 months old and she started reading 70-90% of books at around her level at 33 months old. However, we did not hesitate to make a choice to strictly limit her to one language since she was around 18 months old because I noticed some delay in her peaking level compared to myself from what my parents tell me. Therefore she is great in our mother tongue, but none in English.

    Now I feel more ready to introduce her to English as a foreign language with ASL simultaneously. However, my concern is that I will have to have her learn what English spoken infants or babies do and it will be boring for her at her age and level of intelligence. Though I am hoping to lower the stress by making it super fun with ASL I am also wondering if I get Baby Sign Language Premium Kit it may not be for her. Do you recommend in getting Signing Time series 1 & 2 Collection instead? (I understand that these two are the sister company. So I am hoping it is not a nuisance to mention the products this way and ask questions regards to it publicly.)

    ADMIN – Hi Clara,
    We are a multilingual family and we combine the DVDs with the flash cards for our kids aged 0 to 4 years old. The DVDs are intended to polish their English pronunciation. The flash cards serve for reinforcement of the concept. I taped the word in Spanish and French and we often play games by challenging our kids to say the word in each of the languages we speak at home. The only element from the premium that won’t make sense for you is perhaps the chart. Way too simple for her age and developmental stage. The DVDs also come with a CD version that you can play in the car. We use those during long journeys as an opportunity for sing-alongs.

  5. Cinthya

    Hello, my son is five months old and I would love to start teaching him sign language, unfortunately at the moment I am dealing with custody and parenting time. I have him most of the time, but at the moment his father has him for three nights, my question is, would he be able to understand my teaching and be able to communicate if the father doesn’t practice/teaches him?

    ADMIN – HI Cinthya,

    Yes, if the baby is with you most of the time there is no doubt that he will learn and use baby signs.

  6. Kristi

    I love baby sign language! In elementary school, half of the students were deaf so our whole school learned sign language. I have a 4 month old and have been signing mommy, daddy & milk since he was 2 months…a couple days ago I was changing his diaper and signed milk and his eyes lit up with excitement! I know it will be a few more months until he starts to sign but it’s cracy how fast they pick up on it!

  7. Khalid

    I would like to do studay, babies are from Arabic family. I need helpe . Best, Khalid,

    ADMIN – Hi Khalid,

    The baby sign language program can be used by babies whose native language is not English. Just get started with a few basic signs or get our user-friendly teaching guide and before you know it your babies will be signing.

  8. estella soto

    I am a Special Ed Assistant, trying to teach my students sign language.

  9. Kelly

    My daughter is almost two years old and she has CP do to a full left cerebral infarction that occurred while on an ECMO machine after she asperated mecium during labor. This has greatly effected her speech and development part of the brain. I know my baby is in there but she can’t speak any words only slightly babbling. I know with her tighten muscles that signing might be hard but she wants to talk to us. Have you ever had a child with cp learn to use this system. Her ot therapist has been trying some signs with her but she’s only here 2x a week for an hour. I’d like to try to learn more. She absorbs everything that goes on around her and I’m pretty sure she mostly understands but getting her to express herself even to have her sign mommy to me would well melt my heart. How much exactly does this system cost? Thank you for your time.

    ADMIN – Hi Kelly,

    Thank you for your question. CP can result in all levels of mobility issues as well as motor skills limitations. If you want to try out a few signs to see if the program is right for you we encourage you to print some of the flash cards which are available for free. If you see that the program works for your little one you can then decide if you want to buy a baby sign language kit. The most economical costs just under $40.

    Another avenue often used by therapists when working with CP is to make a little pointer board with her favorite images. Ask your therapist is this is the right approach for your baby.

  10. Helen

    Hi! I think baby sign language is an amazing concept. I started signing straight at birth. I would use the sign for milk at first. I added mommy, cat, pick me up, outside, music, more and love because these are words I often say to my baby. But I have seen nothing back yet. I think I might have seen the beginning of the sign pick me up today but not sure. I think I might have confused him by showing too many signs and not consistently signing every time I say the words. And most times he’s in my arms so I can’t sign to him. How can I improve this learning experience for him, or is it normal to not have seen any progress yet? Thanks!

    ADMIN – Hi Helen,

    Generally speaking at six months your baby is simply absorbing his surrounding and learning to process information. Most little ones don’t begin to sign until they are about 8 to 12 months. Continue signing 3 to 5 signs to your baby with consistency and before you know it you will begin to see results.

  11. linda

    I wish baby sign language was around when I was little it would had made my life alot easier ..l had a serve s peach defect. growing up .I was able to hear so a.s.l .was out of the guestion.My mother would to teach it to me.Years ago children with L.L.D.did not have the resources that we have now ..Learning baby sign language would have helped as a way of communication because of my L.L.D I had a retired special needs Para for the multi handicapped just wanted to let you know that baby sign language can be use in many diffrent ways I am looking forward to learn it.I know a few words but have forgotten a lot of it since I had been retired.

  12. linda

    I would like to know how to get more information .I am a retired special needs Para and I am thinking about going back to work .using baby sign language is great and a great why to begin teaching non verbal children when they are babies

  13. Lorena

    Will u be making an app I have the first couple videos and love it except when we r on the road and I come across something I don’t know and don’t have the book with me I hate having to search for it. Love that u have videos & the pictures as well on ur site

    ADMIN – Hi Lorena,

    There are amazing apps from other vendors. Give them a try!

  14. Stephanie

    My husband and I have been using sign language with our son since he was six months. we started with about five or six signs fairly consistently. He is now 13 months old and hasn’t used any at all. He is also behind in speaking as he doesn’t use any words yet either. He was ahead in every other developmental milestone though. I know every child learns at a different pace but I can’t help but feel concerned. Are we doing something wrong?

    ADMIN – Hi Stephanie,

    Without additional context it is difficult for us to fully and accurately assess your situation. Consider consulting with a language therapist but only when your baby is at least 18 months.

  15. Lara

    Hello,
    I have 5 month old twins and have started signing with them. I’ve been signing songs like Old McDonald and The Little Old Lady that Swallowed a Fly. Should I be limiting the number of signs until they can sign back?
    When do you recommend starting the DVDs?
    Thank you,
    Lara

    ADMIN – Hi Lara,
    We started with five basic signs. We introduced songs at seven months and the DVDs’ daily at 8 months. Please keep in mind every baby is different in their learning style and progression. Do what works best for you and don’t feel like you have to limit the number of signs. When our babies learn to talk they are exposed to every single word when they hear us speak. Similarly baby sign language can be learned by incorporating contextual signing when the opportunity arises.

  16. Mery

    I want to start introducing this method. How long do I have to wait to introduce different words. If today I star with “mom” when can I introduce “dad” or “milk”?

    Also, is there a difference between all the words in different languages or are the signs universal?

    ADMIN – Hi Mery,
    Every baby learns differently. To get a better idea on methodology I suggest you visit the Quick Start Baby Sign Language Guide or you purchase the Baby Sign Language Kit which has a in-depth guide.

    Our program is based on American Sign Language and it is used globally. However, note that different countries have different sign language programs which differ significantly.

  17. Samantha

    My 9 month old son has learned the sign for eat. It took a couple weeks, but I’m noticing he’s been doing his variation of it now. When I taught him, I only focused on eat. Should I continue teaching him one word/concept at a time? Or can I try teaching multiple words at the same time? Thanks

    ADMIN – Hi Samantha,

    At nine months your baby should be able to handle up to five contextual signs at the time. Give it a try.

  18. Lexi Rose

    Hi, my cousin is 4 years old and is half deaf in both ears. The doctor said she’s going to need hearing aids and I was wondering if it would be good for me to learn sign language for her. I watched she show Switched At Birth and have picked up some stuff on that. I just want to learn more.
    Thank you,
    Lexi Rose

    ADMIN-Hi Lexie,

    We encourage to learn as much as possible. Sign language will help you communicate with your cousin and give you an additional life skill.

  19. Nicole

    Our second child is now 5 months. Our first born is 9 years. I read a few studies on baby sign language. Then my sister had her first child and raved about it. So I figured we’d give it a shot!!! And we can not get enough!! My 9 year old is as excited as I am and we learn at least 3 new words a week. We are practicing using signs in our everyday life and so look forward to our youngest signing back. We do this only to expand the world for our children. And this website is the best I’ve found to help with that. You truly should make an app as we reference your site multiple times a day! Thank you!

  20. milagros

    Hi, I have 10 years old boy which has a angel man’s syndrome, he is non verbal. Some specialist said that he can’t learn sign language, but at school they teach him sign language and he is learning a lot. Do you think that he is able to learn more if I put him at sign language school? Thanks

    ADMIN-Hi Milagros,

    I am unable to provide you guidance on this matter. I encourage you to contact the speech therapist and special education coordinator for your school they will let you know what is the best path to follow as far as improving his communication skills.

  21. Linni

    My granddaughter will be 2 in June. We watch the Baby’s first channel, and one of the shows on there is” I can sign. ” Oh my goodness! She loves it! In the last two months she has learned milk, eat, ear, ( she already knew that one, haha) father, ice cream, sit, ball, and a few others. I used to know sign language. If you don’t use it you lose it. Anyway, we have no hearing problems in our family, but I think it is a great thing for her ( all of us really!) to learn! I’m excited about this!

  22. sabrina

    Hi I am a parent of a 1 yr old who is on the autism spectrum non verbal is it to early to teach her sign language so we can communicate

    ADMIN-Hi Sabrina,

    Is never too early to begin introducing a child to any and all potential communication tools. Speak to your language therapist and put together a plan that may include baby sign language as well as pointing to flash cards.

  23. Abbie

    Hi, I’m 14 and I am partly deaf, I started learning sign language from a very young age. Now I help out at deaf primary schools in my spare time with my mum.

  24. Tiffany Brown

    My daughter is 2 and she can say a good few things. She is pretty expressive. But, when she encounters new things, or things that resemble something she recognizes she becomes frustrated trying to communicate the new word. Would sign language be a good way to help her as she grows? She is quite sharp and eager to learn.

    ADMIN
    Hi Tiffany,
    Baby sign language is very empowering for the pre-verbal child. Combined with augmentative communication through the use of flash cards you will begin to see really speedy progress and reduced frustration when trying to convey an idea or word. The terrible twos are often rooted in frustration and improved communication can truly help.

  25. vladimira

    Hello,

    I am an English teacher in Brazil. I’ve just started teaching kids – 6 and 7 yo, 8 and 10 yo. They do not speak or understand any English and I cannot use Portuguese with them. I was wondering if I can use baby sign language to teach them English words :)

    Thank you :)

    ADMIN – Hi Vladimira,

    We have received numerous examples where the flash cards are used as a transitional language in multilingual environments. Give it a try.

  26. Stephanie

    My son is 2 years old. He is delay in speech. Will this help him. He doesn’t talk much at home. But is talking a lot at preschool

    ADMIN – Hi Stephanie,

    Many little ones with speech delays benefit from using signs as a transitional language. But, in you case it seems like he can talk, he just is choosing not to talking at home. Sometimes they don’t talk at home because in the early days talking is hard, and they have easier ways to communicate and have their needs met.

    If you know he has already acquired a word, you can encourage him to use it at home by asking him to use it when appropriate instead of pointing or crying. For example, if he wants water, and just points, make him say water. “Do you want to drink some water? Say water.” The first few days can be tough, but hang in there. At first you can be very loosey goosey about pronunciation, but over time be more strict in requiring proper pronunciation.

    As always with speech delay, make sure you are working with a speech pathologist to put a plan together that meets his specific needs. Speech delays are usually not a big deal when caught early, but can become serious if you let them run too long.

  27. Lynn Kidd

    I have a 3mo old with down syndrome. Ive read that teaching him to sign would be helpful with his communication skills. What is a good age to start teaching him to sign?

    ADMIN
    Hi Lynn,
    It depends on his developmental milestones. You may want to start signing now but do not expect results until your baby is significantly older. This does not mean that he does not understand, it simply means his motor skills may be slow to develop.

  28. Nelida

    Hi. My baby is 6 moths old is now a good time to introduce the baby sign language kit?

    ADMIN – Hi Nelida,

    Six months old is a great stage to introduce your baby to signing. Consider using the first month for you as a mom to become familiar with the teaching methods and begin contextual signing as soon as you are comfortable with the concepts. In addition to contextual teaching with flash cards you can support your baby’s learning environment by encouraging the use of the Baby Signing Time DVD when your baby turns one.

  29. Sonja

    Hi. I will be ordering next week, your simple kit to start learning sign language because I just found out my 6 month old has serve-profound hearing loss. Hopefully this will help myself and him to communicate better and when he gets older it will be natural for us both. Looking forward to start using the kit once I order it :)

  30. Amanda

    Hello,

    I was wondering if teaching you baby to sign language would actually discourage them from using real words, therefore delaying their actual speech. I love the idea of baby sign language and want to teach my little one, but my husband is not 100% on board with it.

    ADMIN – Hi Amanda,

    Studies show that baby sign language does not discourage speech, rather children that sign speak earlier and develop a larger vocabulary. Signing forms a foundation, and like crawling leads to walking, learning to sign makes the transition to speaking easier and smoother.

  31. Monique Fourie

    Good day

    We ive in South Africa and really want this product. Please can you tell us how much extra the shipping will be and how long it takes to ship to Centurion in South Africa. Our baby is now 4 months old and we want to get started on the deluxe program as soon as possible.

    If its shipped internationally, who do you ship it through?

    Very excited to get the payment and shipping done so we can start our little genius on this product.

    Kind Regards

    ADMIN – Hi Monique,

    Congratulations on your newborn. That is a nice age to get started.

    Shipping to South Africa is a flat $20. We ship using USPS (United States Postal Service). Shipping typically takes a month.

  32. Giovanna

    Hi, I live in the UK, is there a British baby sign language or can this be used universally? Thank you

    ADMIN – Hi Giovanna,

    Around the world, most Baby Sign Language programs use American Sign Language (what we use on this site).

    This is for primary two reasons. First, there are a lot of resources available for (American) Baby Sign Language that aren’t available in other local sign languages. Second, since everyone uses (American) Baby Sign Language, it makes it easier if your child is communicating with a caregiver, at school, or with another child because they are using the same language.

    Only use the local sign language if you child is learning to sign so they can communicate with a deaf family member.

  33. Maragete

    Is there an average amount of signs my baby should be doing at a certain age? Like there is an average amount of words they should say at said age. My daughter is 16 months and can sign 24 words, I think that’s amazing!

    ADMIN – Hi Maragete,

    That is epic! We are so happy to hear that your family is enjoying the experience.

    There is a wide variety in signing vocabulary for young children. Some babies have their language window open earlier, and they will sign tens of words before 24 months. Other children have a language window that opens later and will sign only a few words in their first 24 months.

    In much the same way that some children will crawl and walk at different ages, you get a lot of differences in early signing proficiency.

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