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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  starter 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.

76 Responses to “Baby Sign Language QuickStart Basics”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Lara

    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,

    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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    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.

  16. vladimira


    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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?

    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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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 :)

  21. Amanda


    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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. cortney

    hello I was wandering what is a good age to start my children out with this? I have a month old a two year old and a five year old.

    Hi Courtney,
    Most moms start at month five but we encourage you to integrate basic signs to your routine with baby, toddler and even your five year old. It will be fun for all and it will help baby progress quicker.

  26. Melissa

    I am left handed and my husband is right handed. Does it matter which hand is used to make the signs?

    ADMIN – Hi Melissa,

    The main action is done with your dominant hand. So if you are right handed, the main action is done with your right hand. And if you are left handed, it is done with your left hand.

  27. Kelly

    My child is 16 months old. Is he too old to start this? Will he benefit from it even though he is older? I want to use it while introducing potty training. Thanks!

    ADMIN – Hi Kelly,

    If your child doesn’t say more than a few words, you are going to see a lot of benefits. If they are already confident with their words, the benefits are going to be less pronounced because it is less developmentally challenging.

  28. Andy

    Our little one is 3 1/2 months old and we want to start early developing her communication skills. We are a bilingual family. Do you believe it would be too much to add the sign language on top of it or do you think it can actually be beneficial for her to link both languages because of signing?

    ADMIN – Hi Andy,

    A lot of bilingual families use signing as a bridge between the two language (so the baby knows that the sign milk, the spoken word milk and the spoken word leche are the same)

  29. Jennifer

    My little girl is almost 10 months old. I started working with her about a month or two ago and she can sign a little she knew how to wave when I started that was a no brainer. She signs dog and come here sometimes. She has signed I love you cat and milk once. I keep doing the signs but she doesn’t repeat them and she hasn’t tried any other signs. What should I do?

    Dear Jennifer,
    Your baby is in the right path. I am so impressed with her progress. The key is to focus on core signs that are relevant to her and be consistent in using the signs contextually and incorporating the signs to play and daily activities.

    Before you know it she will be signing with more frequency and will start using her signs to meet her needs or wants.

  30. Olesia

    My son is 16 months old. Is it too late to teach him baby sign language?

    Kind regards,


    It is never too late to teach a little one a new skill

  31. Casie Rizza

    Hi there – I am totally intrigued by this. My baby is 7 weeks old. Do you think I should start now?
    Seems like this would be so helpful!

    ADMIN – Hi Casie,

    Signing earlier is always good, it gives your child more opportunities to make the association and become familiar with the signs. Deaf families sign with their children from birth, which is why children in deaf families sign so early.

    The only disadvantage, is that it takes a newborn much longer to respond, than if you started teaching them when they are six months old. So you need to be more patient when it comes to seeing results.

  32. Diana

    I have to tell you that sign language for infants is the best thing ever invented. My daughters are proof. All three benefited. I started at birth and now my five month old daughter can already sign ” milk”. Eat or food. And sleep. She’s such a happier baby for it. A+.

  33. Jessie

    Hello, I want to know is that a good idea to creat my own signs. Because I found that when I use the signs created by myself is more effective.

    Thank you.

    ADMIN – Hi Jessie,

    The goal of baby sign language is to equip you and caregivers to quickly understand baby during the pre-verbal stage. Many moms create their own signs and customize signs based on the motor skills of their little ones as well as specific cultural needs in the household. Since your baby will transition to spoken language it is perfectly OK to create your own signs as long as those around him understand the meaning of the signs. On the other hand if your baby is at a daycare where baby sign language is part of the core curriculum you may want to stick to standard baby sign language in order to better equip your little ones to communicate with their peers as well as caregivers.

  34. Gloria

    Hello! I wanted to know how early can I start teaching my son sign language? his is five months old……… I may a comment to my old sister she has two kids a 3yrs and a 1yrs well she just laugh and said it a waste of time is that true? do baby really learn it well?

    ADMIN – Hi Gloria,

    While most moms and dads start signing at about five or six months old we have had many testimonies of babies exposed to signing as early as birth. Last month we ran a poll and discovered that many babies are already signing by month six. Here is the link to the poll.

    Signing can become a natural part of your daily engagement with baby and it is not difficult to start at all. Print the flashcards for the words that are most important to you and baby and post them in strategic places around the house.

  35. Lauren

    We started teaching our daughter the starter signs at 6 months old, she is now over 10 months and still not using any of them. Could there be something that we’re doing wrong? Should we keep trying or give up and assume that she has no interest in signing?

    ADMIN – Hi Lauren,

    Every baby has a different learning pace and style. We use contextual signing and during the early stages we mainly focus on food items. Keep working with your baby and she will soon surprise you. Don’t get discouraged.

  36. Lucinda

    I am interested to know the typical progress of a baby learning signs. Is it likely they would use a sign they’ve seen, out of context in the beginning? My 9-month old has been seeing the “milk” sign for many months each time he breastfeeds. Now when he is sitting in his high chair eating solids I’ll often see him reach out his hand and squeeze. I wonder if this is his way of associating eating with what we are doing. I can’t really pull him out of the high chair and breastfeed every time he does this sign to reinforce it, so how do you suggest I encourage his learning in this case?

    Thank you!

    ADMIN – Hi Lucinda,

    By your description it appears baby is making the connection with food. I would use the opportunity to teach new signs in context.

  37. ana

    Is there a difference between baby signing and adult signing?
    My father is deaf and doesnt know proper signing most of what
    he knows is made up,I would really like to teach him a few words.

    Thank you

    ADMIN – Hi Ana,

    There are differences between baby sign language and adult sign language. Mainly, baby sign language is a simplified form of American Sign Language adapted to the motor skills of little ones.

  38. Brenda Rodriguez

    Does Sign work in any language I am bi lingual and tend to speak more spanish that English to my son which is wierd because my first language is English!!!

    ADMIN – Hi Brenda,

    Baby Sign Language is a great transitional tool, In our blog we have fantastic examples of bilingual learning. I particularly love Amelie signing and practicing french.

  39. Marilyn

    We are expecting a granddaughter in July who has Down syndrome and have been told that we need to know sign language as a way to communicate with her. Is there a difference in the order of the words to be learned and is there anything special we should know. Thank you.

    ADMIN – Hi Marilyn,

    The way you would teach your granddaughter is very similar to the way you would teach any other child, but with Down Syndrome you can expect progress to be a little slower depending on the severity. Caregivers for children with disabilities will also tend to focus a little more on more practical utility signs, but it is still important to do some purely ‘fun’ signs.

  40. Christie

    I want to teach my son to sign, he is almost 10 months and has Down Syndrome so its common to be behind in speech. I am hoping that signing will help him communicate before he is ready to talk. He spends more time at daycare than at home and I am wondering what we should teach him to call his daycare lady. Her name is Lori.


    ADMIN – Hi Christie,

    Begin with teaching your little one objects of interest such as food or toys. Babies with DS learn best by association and by making them part of the process. There is a wonderful blog called where you can learn a great deal about the uniqueness and value of teaching baby sign language to babies with down syndrome at an early age. It is amazing to see little ones impacted by learning to convey their needs via sign language. As you work with your baby remember that fine motor skills show similar delays as speech and it is important that you recognize effort even when your baby does not complete the sign with perfect form. We look forward to your progress reports.

  41. erika

    Hola, yo no hablo y tampoco escribo ingles…soy de chile. Me interesan mucho sus lecciones, mi hijita es con sd down y escucha solamente por un oido y muy poco.
    Es por eso que desearia que tradujeran sus lecciones, mi hija tiene seis años y está conectada a ventilacion mecánica, pero no se bien como enseñarle a hablar con señas.muchas gracias.

    ADMIN – Estimada Erika,

    Aunque no tenemos planes de traducir el programa muchas mamás de habla hispana imprimen las tarjetas de aprendizaje y las ajustan al idioma español. Los materiales digitales son totalmente grátis y los puedes manipular de acuerdo a las necesidades de tu hija. Mira lo que esta mamá preparó utilizando los materiales gratuítos de nuestra página:

  42. Jacqui Bampton

    Do I start teaching another sign before bub has picked up all the ones I am teaching or do I continue with 5 I am teaching till she has learned all then start with new 5 thanks.

    ADMIN – Hi Jacqui,

    I would stick with the five starter signs until your baby starts to sign at least one of the signs back. At that stage you can start introducing new signs.

  43. Rebecca

    My son is one year old is that to late to show him?

    ADMIN – Hi Rebecca,

    No, 12 months old is a fine time to start. You will find he will catch on much faster than those that start earlier because his language development will be further along.

  44. selja trujillo

    Hi! I just wanted to know that how can i know that my baby tries to sign back to me? My baby is almost 5 months old and it seems like she is trying to sign “milk” but I’m not sure has she been hungry or has it been just good timing.

    ADMIN – Hi Selja,

    With those first few attempts at signing, it is hard to know for sure if they signed or it is just coincidence. TO some extent it doesn’t matter. If you treat it like it was a sign, and make the sign and word back, and give your baby milk, they will quickly cement the association in their head and help them learn the sign.

  45. Prin

    I am Thai and not very good in English. I just have a son, he is 12 weeks old. I am trying to communicate to him and teach him with baby sign language, it looks amazing, Thank you for this website.

  46. Stephen

    This sounds like fun, but it’s not necessary. We sent kids to top universities without any baby sign language.

    ADMIN – Hi Stephen,

    Baby sign language is not necessary, but you are right that it is a lot of fun and it also averts a lot of fussing and tantrums. There are also studies showing long term cognitive benefits, particularly in language development.

  47. Rebecca

    At what age should you start teaching them sign language?

    ADMIN – Hi Rebecca,

    Six to nine months is a good time to start. Starting earlier is fine, you just need to be a little more patient to see results.

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