Step Two:
Repeat Repeat Repeat

The secret to learning Baby Sign Language is lots of repetition. To teach your baby those first few baby signs, you need to give them lots of exposure to the signs. That means doing the signs over and over. With a lot of repetition your baby will quickly learn their first few signs. We do this through:


1. Introduction

Children in deaf families routinely sign at six months old. What is their secret? Repetition! A child in a deaf families is constantly getting exposure to signing. This section will show you how to create some of the frequent signing exposure in your own home.

Research by Dr. Joseph Garcia, one of the founders of Baby Sign Language, found that a typical baby starting at seven months old needs just two months of solid repetition and exposure to a sign to start using it – a lot faster than walking and talking. So keep doing lots of repetition and before you know it you will both be signing up a storm.

When to Start

A good time to start Baby Sign Language is at 6 – 9 months. At that age, babies start to be really receptive to signs and you are almost certain to see some signing back in the next ten weeks.

You can of course start even earlier. You can even do pre-natal baby sign language if you want! Babies whose parents are signing from birth will learn a little quicker, but you do need to be more patient because you will have to sign to them for longer. You may be lucky and get an early signer, but should not expect results before seven months.

Timing Your Signs

There are three times when you can perform the sign: before, during, and after the event you are trying to communicate. Try and do all three. So if you wanted to teach the baby sign for dog, make the sign as the dog approaches, once the dog comes to your baby, then again as the dog leaves.

Line of Sight

You want to keep your signs in your baby’s field of vision. Try and wait until your baby’s gaze and attention comes toward you. Sometimes you may need to reposition yourself or your baby so that you are between her and the subject. There is no need to try and force the issue if your baby is distracted. Don’t worry, her attention will return to you eventually and you will have lots of other chances to make the sign.

Clara: Repetition As Part of Daily Routines

2. Incorporating Signing into Daily Routines

The majority of your signing practice is going to come from signing along to daily routines. Young children thrive on routine and repetition and so most parent will keep them on a schedule. You can incorporate signing into these routines

For example, baby’s day may start with cereal. You might pour baby a little cereal, then sign more before giving them a little more. This will continue until they are all done. You could do a similar routine during each meal.

Other typical routines throughout the day may include changing diapers, bath time, walk time, being put down for a nap, and turning on/off the light.

Wyatt Signing During Meal Time

3. Create Opportunities

As well as the signs you will use in day-to-day life, you can create opportunities to sign less everyday signs. You can read books, sing songs, or do flash cards to teach less common signs. For example, while reading a board book about animals, you may get several opportunities to make animal signs that you would not encounter in everyday life.

Tilly Signing While Reading

4. Baby Initiated Signing

As your child gets more advanced and acquires more signs, a lot of the repetition is going to come from baby initiated signing. Baby will see something or recall something then make her sign, for example signing hungry. When baby makes a sign, you will acknowledge the sign by signing back and saying the word out loud.

As baby expands her vocabulary and understanding, you can follow up with a question. For example, asking if she wants cheese, or bread.

Ted Initiating Signs

Start Signing With The Baby Sign Language Kit

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

  • DVDs – baby learns to sign while being entertained by the music of Rachel Coleman & the Signing Time Crew
  • Flash Cards – extend baby’s vocabulary to topics like household items and animals with these sturdy flash cards
  • Teaching Guide – covers advanced topics for faster results, potty training, and transitioning to speech
  • Signing Dictionary – always have the right sign at your fingertips to satisfy your child’s curiosity
  • Wall Chart – help grandparents, babysitters, and caregivers understand the basic signs

2 Responses to “Step Two: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat”

  1. Chrissy

    I have been using the sign for milk (and saying milk) before every nursing session for a month or two. My six month old has started signing it back to me today, and when he does I nurse him to reinforce the meaning. The only problem is he’s teething and is now doing the sign every 10 minutes because he likes to nurse when his mouth is sore. Do I have to nurse him every time? I want to acknowledge the sign, but cant nurse him constantly!

    ADMIN – Hi Chrissy,

    Great news! You don’t need to give them what they want if it doesn’t make sense. Instead, acknowledge that you understand by repeating the word and perhaps offer him an alternative. e.g. say “I know you want milk, but it isn’t time yet. How about you pacifier instead?”

  2. Paco

    Hello! Have you noticed your video has the wrong spelling for Repetition? other than that, what a great site! Congrats!

    ADMIN – Hi Paco,

    Thank you. We will fix that up it our next round of video work.

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