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.

109 Responses to “Baby Sign Language QuickStart Basics”

  1. toni amado

    We have used the milk sign, eat,more and all done it’s so amazing I will be ordering a kit as well

  2. Leanne

    If a grandparent is called nana or papa would you will use the grandmother and grandfather sign?

    ADMIN – Hi Leanne,

    Yes, the sign is for the relationship and not for the naming attribute.

  3. Denise

    My grandson is 2 year old I need sign language quick start basics hear and voice dvd I need ur telephone number 800 number # I will hear from u email me [email protected]

    ADMIN – Hi Denise,

    Please use the number available in our contact us page.

  4. Brianna

    Is there a separate sign for nursing? Or should I just use milk for both a bottle and nursing?

    ADMIN – Hi Brianna,

    I use the same sign for simplicity

  5. Brittany Pugh

    At what age do you recommend starting to teach signs to a baby?

    ADMIN – Hi Brittany,
    We have seen the highest levels of impact when parents begin using between six to eight months.

  6. Victoria

    Is this American Sign Language, or are any of them made up “baby signs”?

    ADMIN – Hi victoria,

    It is adapted ASL. This means some signs have been simplified to match the motor skills of a baby.

  7. Shawndra Higgins

    My husband keeps thinking that the 10 week old babies that are signing are just super smart babies. I think it’s due to the amount of exposure and/or better fine motor skills the baby may have. Can you set us straight? lol

    ADMIN – Hi Shawdra,

    It is not a matter of IQ. It is generally a matter of engagement and environment.

  8. Shawndra Higgins

    The more I learn about ASL, the more fascinated and intimidated I get. ♥

  9. Kata Vegh

    Hi,
    My son is 8 weeks old and we are raising him to be trilingual as we use 3 languages at home with my husband. Can he learn the signs if we use for one object 3 different words (due to the 3 languages)?

    ADMIN – Hi Kata,

    Absolutely. In fact, signing becomes the link that connects all languages.

  10. Jess

    Do you have a zip file to download all 600 printable sign flash cards ?

    Thanks !

    ADMIN – Hi Jess,

    We don’t. The dictionary which is available for purchase in our store contains all the words in a consolidated format.

  11. Margot Ward

    My baby learned to sign eat, more and milk at 10 weeks! I was surprised but I must have caught him at the right moment. He added play and uses more for anything he wants more of, like sleep, play, breastmilk or cereal. It’s cute to see him sign more when he likes “this little piggy”.

  12. Sabrina

    Hi. My two daughters are age 3 1/2 and 4 months. I would like to begin sign language for both of them but Im worried about the age difference and starting them at the time and one progressing faster then the other. How soon will my 3 year old take to pick it up vs. My 4 month old. Is one age typicalled faster then the other?

    ADMIN – Hi Sabrina,

    We had a similar situation with my nieces. What ends up happening is that the older child takes the lead in teaching the younger one in a natural Montessori style. You can start both with the basics and then have special teaching units for your older one that incorporate phrases, songs and groupings.

  13. Jen

    Can baby sign language be taught in other languages, such as French?

    ADMIN – Hi Jen,

    Life-long sign language is specific to the region and language spoken. However, because baby sign language is transitional it is ok to use the same program for all kiddos.

  14. Lilian

    Can a sign baby ever talk?

    ADMIN – Hi Lilian,

    Yes, absolutely. Babies that sign speak too. Signing is just a transitional tool for the pre-verbal stage.

  15. Caitlin

    Are the signs the same as ASL? If i’m teaching signs I want to make sure it’s the correct signs.

    ADMIN – Hi Caitlin,

    Our baby sign language program is based on ASL with some modification to account for motor skills.

  16. Kai

    Hi there, I love to buy a ultra kit. However,want to know more about the product and delivery:
    1.Could u pls show me inside the book? Is it a hardcover?
    2.i dont have a DVD player. Can I also get a digital copy? so i can use my ipad.
    3.I live in Australia.How much for the delivery fee? or is there anywhere i could buy your product in Australia?
    Thank you
    Kai

    ADMIN – Hi Kai,

    Our books are soft cover for portability and ease of use in a day to day context.

    The DVDs are not available in digital format and you need a multi system player to watch them due to region restrictions.

    We ship to Australia with a shipping fee of $19.95 you are responsible for any tariffs or customs fees.

  17. John Mosty

    Any chance you may offer your dvd’s for purchase as a digital download?

    The website is great and our family really appreciates the easy access to information.

    ADMIN – HI John,

    I don’t have the videos as a digital download but please feel free to email me at [email protected]ysignlanguage.com I may be able to point you in the right direction.

  18. Amiaya

    Hey
    My son turned 1 about a month ago and he finds it hard to communicate with people that aren’t me or my husband.
    We understand him but many other people don’t.
    Any advice.

    ADMIN – Hi Amiaya,

    That is the norm for a 1 year old. His effectiveness in communicating with others will begin to show when he turns 2.

  19. B

    So glad I did this for my child! Little did I know he would have a speech delay likely due to frequent ear infections ( also a preemie) and this was so helpful! He needed speech, OT, PT, in school and now in 6th grade caught up to his peers. All parents should use this as a way to communicate and get their wishes known with less frustration. My son modified some of the hand gestures a bit and we learned to understand them. ( he would point one finger into his palm to indicate ” more, ” or stick his index finger in his mouth and pull it out to indicate he wanted a ” drink”. Pretty obvious I would say!

  20. Emily

    Hiya, this is kind of weird considering my age. I’m seventeen and I just lost my hearing, from where should I start to learn ASL? From here or a little further on? Sorry if this is odd to you, it’s odd to me too. Thank you!

    ADMIN – Hi Emily,

    A language therapist can best guide you in your journey. Look for schools that provide adult ASL programs.

  21. Rachel

    My little one is 3 months old. I was wondering what age most people start teaching their baby sign and how long it usually takes for baby to start responding? Should I have started earlIer if I want to teach him sign?

    ADMIN – Hi Rachel,

    Most people start between five to nine months but there is no drawback to starting early.

  22. Kat

    My son will be 4 months in a few days. He signs milk perfectly and then also adds putting his fist to his mouth to show where he wants the milk. I always sign and ask milk, milk? And when he is nursing ill keep saying and signing milk. Then ill squeeze his hand and he will squeeze back. Now across the room I sew him signing milk. Ill always repeat milk? And sign and I get so excited!!!! He gets excited too

  23. Catherine

    Hello –
    I tried to teach my baby the sign for “milk.” She has learned it but at 11 months old, seems to use it to mean “I want something” (usually to be picked up, sometimes milk, sometimes my phone). Should I give in and let her use this to mean “I want” and come up with another sign for milk? She has been doing this for about a month. Thanks!

    ADMIN – Hi Catherine,

    Experiment with teaching your baby the sign for want and combine it with the signs for a variety of objects.

  24. Barb knapper

    We just learned that our granddaughter(10weeks old) has a moderate hearing loss and will require hearing aids. I am assuming baby sign language would be appropriate for her. Can you please give us any other ideas to help. She cannot be fitted until she weighs 10 pounds.

    ADMIN – Hi Barb,

    Ask a speech therapist about augmentative communication through images and flash cards as well as an iPad.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. estella soto

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

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

  45. 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!

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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 :)

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

    ADMIN
    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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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)

  62. 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?

    ADMIN
    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.

  63. Olesia

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

    Kind regards,

    Olesia

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

  64. 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.

  65. 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+.

  66. 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.

  67. 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?
    thanks

    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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

    Thanks!

    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 theharnishfamily.blogspot.com 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.

  74. 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:
    http://theharnischfamily.blogspot.com/2011/05/macy-picture-book.html

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. Lisa

    Hi! Not sure if someone asked my question already, but I will ask. I have only just discovered this and I’m so excited by it, but my baby is already 11 months old but I wanted to teach him signing. Is it too late to start? Oh, I wish I’d known about this sooner.

    Thank you so much for the information. This is an amazing website! :) Hope you can answer my question!

    ADMIN – Hi Lisa,

    11 months is a great age to get started. We find that you get the benefits of baby sign language (faster language development, less fussiness, etc) as long as you start before the children become verbal. Once, a child start developing a significant signing vocabulary (18 months – 3 years), these benefits are less pronounced because the child can communicate via words. But, prior to that period, at 11 months you still have a long time to enjoy the benefits of signing, so leap right in. You will find that at 11 months children will usually learn much faster and you may well see signing back as soon as a month after you start.

    Kids older than 3 years who already have big verbal vocabularies often enjoy signing, and will often make short work of learning 50 new signs. For these children signing should be viewed as an enrichment activity.

  82. Lacey Prager

    How early can I start signing with my little one? She is still on the way (due Aug 1st) but I want to be prepared and if starting from day one will help, I’ll do it!

    ADMIN – Hi Lacey,

    It is never too early to start. But, you have to be more patient to see results. Families who start signing with their newborns often see their children signing back at six months. While, if you start later, at say 9 months, you might see signing back after only 1-2 months.

  83. Stephanie

    We just found out our 3 month old grandson is deaf. When can we start teaching him to sign? The whole family wants to learn to help him communicate. He has a sister that is 1.5 years old and like to teach her too. Help Please!

    Stephanie

    ADMIN – Hi Stephanie,

    You can start right now! Deaf families will sign around their children from birth, in exactly the same way hearing families talk around pre-verbal children. The only difference with starting with a younger child, is you need to be more patient – it will take him longer to start signing back than if you started him when he was older. But, particularly if he is deaf I would started straight away.

  84. Meagan S.

    I am a nanny for a one year old boy. His mother and I have recently started teaching him some simple signs (milk, more, eat, please). He caught on very quickly and gets really excited when he can tell us what he wants. This website has helped me to know more signs that I can start teaching him. Thank you for everything y’all do!

  85. Grandma B

    How do you sign “grandmother”?

    ADMIN – Hi Grandma B,

    The sign for grandmother is similar to the sign for mother. You take your strong hand and tap your thumb on your chin, moving it forward twice. You can see a video of the sign in our baby sign language dictionary.

  86. mohammad

    Hello my name is Mohammad – I live in Iran – and I want my baby to learn English and baby sign language in addition to the Persian language. Can I buy her your deluxe baby sign language kit in Iran?

    ADMIN – Hi Mohammad,

    Baby sign language is a great way to bridge between two languages. Speak to your child in both Persian and English. For the words you choose to sign, make the sign for both languages. The consistent sign across the two language will help form a bridge for her across the two languages.

    We ship our kits worldwide (including Iran).

  87. Magnolia

    How do i say “WATER” in baby sign language?

    ADMIN – Hi Magnolia,

    Water is signed by making you middle three fingers into a W, and tapping them on your chin. You can see a video and a diagram for water in the dictionary section of the website.

  88. lisa

    What would you use if a baby is fussing for you or a bottle or something, but you want to say, “just a second, i’ll be right back.” or is that too much to comprehend…… or you are finishing your make-up….and you want to say….just a second”. ?? Any ideas?

    ADMIN – Hi Lisa,

    Wait is a good sign to use to teach baby how to be a little more patient.

  89. Veronica

    Thank you so much for your wonderful website! I am in the process of teaching my almost 6 month old daughter how to sign. So far she understands “milk” and “up”. The signs that you have given on the website are endless. Thank you! Baby is so much more happier now.

  90. Christine

    Hello. Thank you so much for the amazing site! My daughter is 4 1/2 months old and I’ve been using the sign for “hungry” instead of the more commonly used first sign of “milk,” as it seems like a more useful sign moving forward. My question is: do you know if the sign for “hungry” is any more difficult for an infant to make than the sign for “milk”?

    ADMIN – Hi Christine,

    Using the more general sign, hungry is fine. It is also a very easy sign to make. Starting at your daughter’s young age, it would be perfectly normal for the signing to take a little longer.

  91. Melissa

    I have been using about 5 different signs (milk, more, all done, eat, change) for 3 months now, my son is 9 months old but isn’t signing back, how long will it take?

    ADMIN – Hi Melissa,

    Children’s developmental windows open at different times. Some children take a little longer. Stick with it and you should see something soon. Until then, just keep on with the repetition.

  92. Julie

    I was first introduced to baby signs when I worked in a daycare. Now expecting my first child I’m excited to sign at home. Since I’ve already seen baby signing in use I already know it works. Thanks for the free site and videos!

  93. Kristi

    Thank you so much for a wonderful website. I knew when I was pregnant that I wanted to use baby sign language because I had seen the benefits with my niece. When my son was born, we discovered that he is hearing impaired and so it became even more important for us to begin sign language. He is now 6 months and your website has made it so easy to learn basic signs and the chart made it nice for his sitter to also be on the same page. I look forward to the new signs that you have coming. Will there be an alphabet chart coming? The videos are great for helping us to know we are doing it correctly.

    ADMIN – Hi Kristi,

    Thanks for your kind words. We had no plans for an alphabet chart, but we will be doing flash cards and videos for the alphabet and numbers.

  94. Stephanie

    I have always been interested in baby sign language. What age is appropriate to start teaching my son?

    ADMIN – Hi Stephanie, to learn when to get started with baby sign language visit our FAQs, We are also available on Facebook where you can engage in conversation with many signing moms and dads.

  95. Kathy

    Hello Everyone and thank you for all of the info. My daughter moved in with me recently with a 6 yr old, 3 yr old and 6 month old. For the present time I am in charge of mostly the baby but also am teaching my daughter parenting skills. The baby is very frustrated and I believe that this program would help quite a bit. Are there any books or DVD’s that you would suggest. At the moment the Alphabet Blue’s Clues is her favorite. Any help would be greatly appreciated for a very tired but determined Nana! Thanks

    ADMIN – Hi Nana,

    We have a good book on Baby Sign Language. As for DVD Baby Signing Times is a awesome and a similar kind of format to Blue Clues. Go ahead and print our free downloadable signing for babies flash cards to get started and have something tangible. You can also involve the older children. Join our Facebook page and ask the the girls what they are currently using.

  96. Jameka

    My son is 9 months and I have read that this is the optimal time to teach him sign language because they are anxious to express their needs and have better fine motor skills and coordination. I just don’t really know how to get started. I notice that he knows words that we say to him already, like “Come here” “Eat”, “Bottle”, and “More”. Should I start signing these first? Also I really want to do the sign to put him to sleep. But I know it’s a different one for “tired” and “sleepy” and “bed”, which would be best to use?

    ADMIN – Hi Jameka,

    If there are some words he already recognizes and that you use frequently in your daily routines, they would be good starter signs. The words you mentioned: come, eat, bottle, and more are all great starter signs.

    For bedtime, you can use any of those signs, just be consistent. Most people use bed, because it is an easy sign and looks like the universal sign for bedtime ( just put both your hands together and rest your head on them as if they were a pillow. Also for bedtime just pick the sign you feel is a best fit for your baby in terms of motor skills and personality keeping in mind that baby signing is a transitional means to communicate with your baby and provide you with a chronological advantage when it comes to accelerated learning. Also join our Facebook community to share and compare baby sign language progress with other signing moms

  97. Victoria

    if i were you i would use the sign for drink and milk just use the sign for drink then milk cause they could hopefully get the point that it means bottle and maybe your baby will know the difference between milk, bottle, and drink. =)

  98. Victoria

    My mom had a baby a little over a year ago … he is a boy and has a lot of problems … one of which they think he won’t ever talk, and pretty much the only word he says is da-da and daddy. He refuses to say mommy or ma-ma … does anyone know the easiest and quickest way to teach my little brother how to sign? This can help my mom, my baby brother, and me all at the same time because he is learning sign language.

    I am 12 almost 13 years old and just found out my mom has a brain tumor and has to have brain surgery. The surgery she has to have can cause her to loose her voice. So sign language is something we would all like to learn.

    ADMIN – Hi Victoria,

    Sorry to hear about your mom’s surgery, our thoughts are with you. It is great to hear that you are working with your brother to help him learn sign language. As a mom, I would take great comfort in seeing that you are taking on this responsibility when I need you most.

    You can start working with your brother by introducing a few basic signs like mom, dad, more and eat, as you both go about your day. Find lots of opportunities to repeat those signs in your daily routines. Over the coming months he will start signing back, and then you can start expanding your vocabulary.

  99. Justine

    In addition, I thought of just tapping my breast for breastfeeding and using “milk” for bottle/cups if I need to use different signs.

  100. Deb

    Are your signs adapted in any way or are they actual ASL signs? My daughter is deaf and I want to start early with your easy to use site but want to teach her signs that she will be able to use forever.

    ADMIN – Hi Deb,

    In 99% of cases we use actual ASL. Occasionally we simplify where the ASL sign is too complex, or the official ASL is finger-spelled. In these cases we will note that we deviated from proper ASL.

  101. Liz

    Hi I just have a question. I have never used baby signing with my daughter and shes never seen it anywhere but I just wanted to know if a few hand signs she does means anything.

    1. She takes her pointer finger and touches the tip of it to her opposite hands palm and does it several times in a row.

    2. She takes both of her pointer finger tips and touches them together several times.

    I dont know if these mean anything, probably not, but I would like to know if they do so I know what shes saying when she does them.

    ADMIN – Hi Liz,

    If you daughter has not been taught to sign, it is unlikley that she is deliberately making a sign. (She may have picked some up from daycare or some other source outside the home)

    The first sign you describe, sounds a little like again, and the second a little like more. But, again it is likely just a coincidence if nobody taught her.

    If you are interested in teaching her how to sign, you can sculpt the behavior into having meaning. Whenever she makes the gesture, make the sign back, say the word and give them what they asked for. Even though they initially did not have any meaning attatched to the word, they will soon associate a meaning.

  102. Ashley

    Elizabeth, My sister breast fed, and she used milk the milk sign for breast feeding and the drink sign for a bottle, I don’t know if that helps at all.

  103. Rebecca

    What is a good sign for pen or pencil? Our daughter loves them and is constantly wanting one.

    I am very happy to say that by following your guidelines our 14 month old daughter has been able to pick up on 2 signs in just 2 days. This is soooo much better than the grunts we used to hear.

    ADMIN – Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for the idea, we added pen to our list of signs.

    Thanks for sharing your daughter’s story. We often get asked if it is too late for older children to start. Of course with older children, you don’t get to share signing for as long, but the benefit is that they learn very quickly. Your daughter learning her first two signs in two days is unusual, but seeing signing back within a week would be typical at that age.

  104. Elizabeth

    What is a good sign for bottle? Should I use ‘milk’ because (most of the time) milk (or formula) is in the bottle. I am a Nursery Day Care provider and one of the moms has asked me to use Baby Signs with her baby. I wish more of the moms (and the director) were interested. I am so thrilled to be able to teach a baby – baby sign language but I am just learning myself.

    I have been using the ‘milk’ sign and saying bottle because bottle is easier to say than milk. They learn to say ‘ba-ba’ for bottle which is easier to say than milk. This sounds confusing, but I don’t think it really is if I am consistent and so is the mom.

    ADMIN – Hi Elizabeth,

    We use the “milk” sign for when they want a bottle with milk, and the “water” sign for when they want a bottle with water.

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