Video: Milk in Sign Language

Signing: The milk sign is a lot like milking a cow (or goat), but without the vertical motion – you are just squeezing the udder. You take both hands, make them into a fist, relax, and repeat.

You will notice most babies have trouble moving all fingers together at uniform speeds, but any kind of repeated squeezing and relaxing of the hand is likely milk.

If you want to distinguish breast milk from bottle milk, sign milk near your breast.

Milk in Baby Sign Language
Figure: Milk in Baby Sign Language

Usage: Milk would be one of the first signs that I would teach baby, because it corresponds to something they find highly desirable, and so they are highly motivated. Also, teaching the milk sign helps reduce frustration where baby wants to feed but cannot communicate it effectively in any other way than being cranky. Make the milk sign before you feed baby. If baby takes a break during feeding, then wants to feed some more, that is a good opportunity to do the sign again. And you can do the sign one final time once feeding stops.

At first, whenever baby makes the sign – or is close, fuss over baby and try and immediately give her milk.

Milk Flash Card Thumbnail

Flash Card: Click the link to view the Milk Baby Sign Language Flash Card. The flash cards are printable and available in both U.S. Letter and A4 sizes.

Related Signs: Eat, More, All Done, Water

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.


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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)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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21 Responses to “Milk”

  1. Stacy

    My baby is only 4 months old, and just now keeping her eyes open and smiling.

  2. Tiara

    My daughter school taught her how to sign, but it’s good for me to learn as well

  3. Darmita Dumas

    I’m working with my greatneice everyday health developments and health foods trying to even get her to speak words and she 10 1/2 months she is very intelligent

  4. Yariela Acevedo

    Super awesome I love signing with my son, he’s super apart and enjoys it as well!

  5. Amy

    We have noticed that our baby does the sign for milk, unknowingly, coincedence

    ADMIN – Hi Amy,

    Most likely

  6. Rebecca G.

    I work at a childcare center and we have started using the printable cards for teaching sign language to our infants (9-12 months). Can a card be made for the word “Mine”? We are really teaching our infants to share or say “mine” if someone tries to take their toy away. We have gotten the parents involved and they are really on board with sign language! We put up a new word every week, and having a printable card for the word “mine” would really be helpful. Thank you:)

    ADMIN – Hi Rebecca,

    I have added your suggestion to our creative queue. If you are interested in sponsoring the creation of the digital flashcard please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

  7. Celestina Parrilla

    Am interested in learning signlanguage the basic

  8. Donita Dugar

    If he learned how to wave bye bye first in a similar fashion, How can I help him distinguish between him saying milk or waving hi/bye since they look similar?

    ADMIN – Hi Donita,

    Some of the signs are similar, particularly for the younger ones where they are just doing an approximation of the real sign. However, it is usually obvious what the meaning is from the context.

  9. RenRen

    I’m so excited! I started showing my 9 1/2 month old daughter how to make the milk sign and then dropped it after about a week (i’m not good with consistency unfortunately). She definitely seemed interested at the time.

    This week she unfortunately has chicken pox (at 10 1/2 months) but she started showing me the sign for milk which was very exciting because poor thing has had no appetite! This definitely inspired me to pick the signing thing back up. Amazing how quickly babies pick things up and how smart they are at this age!

  10. Mey Lau

    acknowledge her request, say no and provide an alternative in the form of recreation or other non-food activities.

  11. Carla

    My baby has learnt the sign for milk but does it very frequently. What do you do when you no longer feed on demand to limit milk to her routine if she’s asking for it between feeds?

  12. Francesca

    Our household is bilingual. My husband is speaking to our twins entirely in Spanish and I am speaking to them in English. If we both want to use sign language, should my husband say Papa or leche and use the same sign for daddy and milk?

    ADMIN – Hi Francesca,

    Many bilingual household use baby sign language as a bridge between the two language. Both of you can use the same sign but a different word. The consistent use of the sign helps baby learn that you are both referring to the same thing, even though you are using different words.

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