Fifteen Baby Signs Every Baby Needs to Know

The benefits of teaching your baby how to use baby sign language are endless and so are the number of signs available to learn and teach. If you are a first time mama or a daycare provider trying to prioritize and ensure the signs your babies are learning are relevant and useful take a moment to review this list. We have selected the most popular baby signs taking into account the needs and wants of little ones in the pre-verbal stage.

Let’s get started:

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More
Nothing more frustrating than not getting enough. Not enough cuddles, not enough milk, not enough rest. The sign for more is super simple and babies as early as six months should be able to learn it with ease.

The sign for more brings both hands together with fingers meeting at the center.

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Milk

This is the ultimate favorite. I have seen babies as young as four months learn to sign milk. The baby sign for milk is performed with just one hand.

The difference between the sign for breast milk and the sign for bottled milk is the proximity of the sign to the breast area.

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All Done
All done is a partner sign with more. Teaching our babies to communicate the need for additional resources or having reached the point of satiety is a great help in reducing temper tantrums.

All done is signed with hands in front of you doing a turn around motion as to convey emptiness.

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Eat

I can’t tell you how much we love teaching this sign. As babies explore their first foods it is lovely to see them combine the sign for eat along with their favorite treats.

Eat and food are the same sign and it is achieved by bringing your dominant hand toward your mouth as if in holding a small sandwich.

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Drink

We used the sign for drink for a long long time. Even our preschoolers use the sign to quietly communicate the need to get a drink during quiet time.

To sign drink our dominant hand holds an invisible cup and takes it toward our mouth.

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Water

Aside from using the sign for water for obvious things like thirst we had a great time incorporating the sign during swimming lessons, our bath time and when doing crafts that required water.

To sign water we make a letter W with our dominant hand and we take it toward our mouth.

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Help
There is a very delicate balance between equipping a toddler to be independent and ensuring they feel safe, cared-for and empowered to secure aid. Our babies knew the sign for help as soon as they started walking.

Make a flat palm and place your opposite hand on top of it with the thumb up. Raise both hands together.

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Hurt

The sign for hurt has proven to be extra helpful when our little ones are injured or sick and unable to fully convey their suffering. We normally teach our babies and toddlers to point to the area of pain and sign hurt.

To sign hurt tap your index fingers together.

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Cold
Another source of discomfort and frustration commonly encountered by babies is temperature variations in food and in their environment. Learning the sign for cold early on will empower them to ask for relief when in need of an extra blanket or when a cup with cold water is likely to help with their thirst.

To sign cold your mimic a shiver and bring your arms close to your body.

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Hot
Just like cold the sign for hot can serve a number of functions in the daily interactions we have with our babies. From communicating a fever to letting you know that food is at a temperature that may burn.

To sign hot you make a C shape with your dominant hand start at your chin and move it away from you and toward the other party.

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Baby

Using the sign baby serves in teaching our little ones self awareness. This was definitely not one of our first signs. We taught the sign for baby when our little ones turned 14 months.

To sign baby we make a motion that mimics cradling a baby back and forth in our arms.

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Mom

This is among our top five signs. Teaching our little ones to call for us provides endless comfort and empowerment.

To sign mom we tap our chin with our dominant hand extended with fingers separated.

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Dad

Just like the sign for mom we teach and learn the sign for dad to give our babies a sense of security in relationships.

To sign dad we bring our open hand to our forehead with the palm facing toward the center and we tap.

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Dog

It is funny to include the family pet as part of the top 15 signs but the reality is that most households with pets consider Fido another member of the family.

To sign dog we tap our leg with our dominant hand as if in calling our doggy to come.

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Sleep

Tired babies are cranky babies. This is why the baby sign for sleep should be among the first signs we teach our little ones.

The sign for sleep is achieved by making our dominant hand travel in front of our face as if it was trying to close our eyes.

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At Baby Sign Language we have gathered the best available resources to learn how to sign. Our kits feature the best of the best regardless of brand.

If you found this information useful, check out our award winning baby sign language kit. It includes more than 600 signs, covers advanced teaching methods for faster results, and includes fun teaching aids like flash cards.

 

baby sign language kit

The Standard Baby Sign Language Kit, bundles together everything you need to get started with signing in one box, at a steep discount. The kit includes: (1) Baby Sign Language Guide Book; (2) Baby Sign Language Dictionary: (3) Baby Sign Language Flash Cards; and (4) Baby Sign Language Wall Chart.

Baby Sign Language Guide Book shows you how to teach your child how to sign. The book begins with a Quick Start Guide that will teach you your first signs and having you ready to sign in 30 minutes. As your baby progresses, you can delve into more advanced topics like combining signs to make phrases, using props, and transitioning to speech. (Regularly $19.95)

Baby Sign Language Dictionary contains over 600 signs including the most common words, the alphabet and numbers. The dictionary helps you expand your child’s vocabulary, and has the breadth of coverage that lets you follow any child’s natural interests. Each sign is illustrated with two or more diagrams, showing you the starting position, the ending position, and intermediate motion. This makes learning new signs easy.  (Regularly $19.95)

Baby Sign Language Flash Cards include 52 sturdy board (4×6 inches) flash cards, covering a variety of basic signs. The flash cards allow you to teach words, such as animal names, that Baby is not exposed to in everyday life. The face of the flash cards shows the word and image for the child. The back of the flash cards show how the sign is performed, a handy reminder for the adult.  (Regularly $24.95)

Baby Sign Language Wall Chart includes 22 basic signs, and makes a handy reminder for caregivers. The Baby Sign Language Wall Chart covers basic signs, like eat, drink, and sleep. Hang the poster in Baby’s Nursery to help babysitters, or other occasional caregivers learn and decode the most commonly used baby signs.  (Regularly $9.95)

100% Signing Guarantee

Your baby signs to your complete satisfaction, or you get a full refund.

No questions. No time limits. No regrets.

Baby Sign Language Guide Book

Learn the best techniques for effectively teaching baby sign language. Including:

•  Quick Start Guide – learn the first 10 signs and the basic principles required to start teaching your baby to sign (Chapter 1).

•  Advanced Teaching Methods – use teaching aids like books, flash cards, and toys to keep lessons interesting and challenging (Chapter 5).

•  Phrases – teach your baby to combine signs and communicate more complex thoughts (Chapter 6).

•  Taming the Terrible Twos – reduce frustration and tantrums by enabling your toddler to communicate (Chapter 7).

•  Transitioning to Speech – use sign language to expedite and improve speech development (Chapter 8).

baby sign language kit

Sarah learned her first 10 signs at six month and it made our lives much easier. Instead of screaming, she could tell us when she was hungry, thirsty, or tired. She learned another 50 signs by nine months and that was a blast. Now she is talking much earlier than the other children in her preschool and we think it is because of her signing.

We can’t imagine missing out on all the little things she shared with baby sign language. Thank You!

– Bennett & Melissa Z., CA

Pediatrician Approved

“It’s easy to see why so many parents swear by it, why child care centers include it in their infant and toddler classrooms, and why it has become so commonplace as an activity of daily learning … we approve.”

Heading Home With Your Newborn (Second Edition)

Dr. Laura A. Jana MD FAAP & Dr .Jennifer Shu MD FAAP

American Academy of Pediatricians

Baby Sign Language Flash Cards

52 high quality flash cards (4 x 6″). Featuring:

•  Clean Images – real life pictures, isolated on a white background to make learning easier.

•  Signs on the Rear – diagrams on the back illustrating the signign motion in case you need a reminder.

•  Baby Friendly – printed on thick stock so little hands can play with the cards and they will live to play another day.

baby sign language kit

I was thrilled to see how easy the signs were for Abigail (3) and Eden (21 months). Much to my surprise they could figure out many of the signs from the flashcards on their own.

– Carrie P., TX

Study: Signing Enriches

“The Sign Training group told us over and over again … [signing] made communication easier and interactions more positive.”

“these data demonstrate clearly that … [signing] … seems to “jump start” verbal development”

“can facilitate and enrich interactions between parent and child”

Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development

Dr. Susan Goodwyn, Dr. Linda Acredolo, & Dr. Catherine Brown

Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

Baby Sign Language Dictionary

The Baby Sign Language Dictionary includes :

•  Words (500+) – learn signs for nearly every topic of interest.

•  Letters – sign the alphabet and teach basic spelling.

•  Numbers (0-10) – introduce counting and basic mathematics.

baby sign language kit

Nicholas loves his signs and it lights up our lives every time he shares one of his little secrets. He is so observant, and we would miss it all without the signs.

– Donald Family, NY

Baby Sign Language Wall Chart

The full color wall chart (24 x 36″) includes 17 everyday signs. Use the wall chart for:

•  Caregivers – help babysitters and other caregivers learn the basic signs so they can understand baby’s signs.

•  Family – teach family the basic signs so they can join in the fun.

baby sign language kit

Everyone thought I was nuts when I started. A month later, all my friends saw Michelle’s first signs. Then they wanted to know how they could start.

Michelle is talking now and doesn’t sign much anymore, but it gave her a headstart over other children her age. Everyone says she talks like a three year old. Now she is helping me teach her baby brother Jordan how to sign.

– Adelaide S., CA

Study: Better in School

A group of second graders who signed as infants, performed better academically than a control group six years later. The signers had a 12 IQ point advantage.

Longterm Impact of Symbolic Gesturing During Infancy at Age 8

Dr. Linda P. Acredolo (Professor, U.C. Davis)

Dr. Susan W. Goodwyn (Professor, California State University)

100% No Regret Guarantee

Your baby loves signing, or a full refund.

As you can tell, we love Baby Sign Language. It transformed the way we interacted with our children, and we want every family to have the opportunity. Baby Sign Language will make a difference for your child. Give it a try.

If for any reason you aren’t completely blown away, we will cheerfully give you a complete refund, including standard shipping. No time limit. We are that confident!

baby sign language kit

What to Do When Your Already Verbal Toddler Stops Talking – Dealing with Selective Mutism

Real and received speech delays are not uncommon in babies and toddlers. In fact as many of 10% of all children suffer from a voice, speech or swallowing disorder that they may later overcome. Addressing the needs of a child with speech delays while challenging it is still less traumatic than facing a child who is already well on their way to full speech and suddenly stops talking.

Surprisingly, this scenario is far more common that you will ever imagine. We frequently get questions from parents who are startled when their little ones suddenly stop speaking both at home and in social settings.

Once the pediatrician and audiologist have excluded auditory issues and potential scenarios like autism spectrum have been excluded it may be wise to explore the possibility of selective mutism. Selective mutism is a complex and difficult to diagnose condition where the toddler or child only speaks in certain settings. The condition is often tied to anxiety and social phobia and appears to have a genetic element. Selective mutism may take place only at school or social settings and in some instances it is associated to fear triggered by a person within the household. To be clear, selective mutism is not the same as traumatic mutism.

If your toddler has been diagnosed with selective mutism there are many options you can explore to help your toddler embrace speech once again. Early intervention is key.

In addition to appropriate diagnostic your toddler may benefit from the following:

  • Reduced environmental stress
  • Increased engagement in zones of comfort
  • Play therapy
  • Alternative communication such as pointing boards or baby sign language
  • Frequent socialization
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Medication

If you have just received a diagnosis of selective mutism we encourage you to become familiar with our baby sign language materials specifically designed for toddlers. Through music, clear real-life images and simple directions our resources can quickly provide a toddler facing SM an emotionally accessible tool to communicate what matters most to him.

 

Baby Sign Language For Story-Telling & Role-Playing

Imagination is both innate and cultivated. What and how you play with your baby will set the stage for success when it comes to their ability to visualize experiences outside their context. As you begin reading to your baby or toddler take the opportunity to foster their imagination by expanding the narrative and including relevant signs and images not normally available in their day-to-day experiences.

Recently we have been reading western stories, so we are learning the signs for cowboy, American Indian and horse:

 

American Indian

Cowboy

Horse

 

We are also engaging in role play and including words like monster, fairy and elves. We have included all of these signs in our Dictionary which is available online and as a book in our baby sign language store. 

Words that encourage imagination are not a primary need. They are a nice-to-have as your little one develops the ability to recognize make-believe and he or she embraces literature and visual media. Take the time to teach your little one to discern between reality and make-believe. As you do that you may want to teach your baby signs such as “fake”

Fake

 

Through the use of books and movies you will be able to expand your child’s imagination as well as his vocabulary. The earlier you start the better the results. A weekly trip to the library may just be the most precious journey in the adventure of learning and growing up.

 

 

Baby Signs to Be Playground-Ready

I have a huge pet peeve. I am not a huge fan of parents screaming at public playgrounds. I appreciate the hullabaloo of little ones having fun but loud parental engagement does nothing for me.

Learning basic playground signs allows you to be in control of the situation, helps you train your little one to constantly have visual contact with you and adds civility to public settings.

Here is a nice chart to get you started. In addition to the signs on this chart you should learn basic signs available in our dictionary & baby sign language kit such as stop or come.

Ten Smart Ways to Help Babies & Parents Affected by Hurricane Harvey

If you are like most of us you are deeply concerned for those affected by hurricane Harvey. In our case, we are particularly touched by those who had to flee and are currently parenting babies and toddlers. Yesterday we had the opportunity to volunteer at a temporary shelter and we identified specific needs of those dealing with the added complexities of having little ones without a place to call home. As you prepare to donate or assist please keep this tips in mind.

Think Practically

A natural disaster is not an opportunity for you to clean the garage. Large toys, out of season clothes and high tech gadgets have no place in the donation bin. Practice relevancy and meet immediate needs. Pre-wash all baby clothing and pack it in clear bags marked with size and a note indicating that the item has been washed.

Give What You Would Like to Receive

I could not help it notice the donation stack had piles and piles of lower quality disposable diapers. A blowout is not fun at any time but it is particularly difficult if you have limited access to water. When selecting donations shop as if you were shopping for your own baby.

Consider Special Needs

Think about sensitivities and allergies. Pick fragrance-free baby products and consider donating formula that addresses specific food sensitivities.

Give Your Time

Many babies have been relocated to hospitals hours away from their families. If you are a NICU volunteer consider increasing your hours. This little ones need to be held

Strollers & Pack ‘n Plays

In many shelters families are given only cots. If you have small strollers that recline and compact pack ‘n plays consider donating.

Have Bigger Items?  Play the Wait Game

In a few months those whose houses were damaged and had no flood insurance will need all manner of goods. Hold on to your nice stuff. You will soon have the opportunity to make a difference and help a family or two trying to put their lives back together.

Baby Wearing is Life-Changing During Stressful Situations

If you have a high quality baby wearing wrap to spare consider sharing. When you don’t have a private place to let your baby rest baby wearing is a second best option.

Small but Important, Loveys & Pacifiers

Many families evacuated last minute leaving behind their most basic possessions. Take time to pick and donate small loveys and pacifiers to bring little ones a sense of comfort and familiarity.

Don’t Forget Breastfeeding Mamas

Many evacuees don’t have access to a car. If you are donating to a shelter consider including breastfeeding pads, high quality breastfeeding new bras and gently used breastfeeding-friendly tops.

Donate Money to Qualified Charities

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Select charities and organizations known to be good stewards and donate generously.