The Awesomeness of Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language. I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough when I first heard about this, 6 years ago.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the idea is you teach your baby some simple signs so they can communicate their needs before being able to talk. Children are able to comprehend language long before they’re able to use it, and sign language gives them the opportunity to communicate specific needs before they’re verbally capable. In other words, your baby can talk to you.

You’re probably still skeptical if you have never witnessed it. It sounds like nonsense. I thought it was nonsense. But the first time you see a baby sign and effectively communicate with an adult, I promise you’ll be freaking amazed. It is completely fantastic and extremely useful. Take it from me, as I thought it was a total crock the first time I heard about it and immediately ate my words the first time I saw it in action.

Here’s why you should teach your kid sign language:

1. Your communication becomes 2-sided much earlier than if you wait for your kid to be able to speak (and despite some early reports, sign language does not delay speech), which I admit is pretty thrilling

2. Some studies have shown that babies who sign actually speak earlier and have better vocabularies than those who don’t, both as infants and at age 8*

3. It helps avoid tantrums because you don’t hand your kid Cheerios when they really just want some freaking milk. Ie, they don’t get frustrated and freak out when you guess incorrectly about what they want because they’re able to tell you

4. People will be in awe of your baby’s brilliance


P learned sign language from a now well-known DVD: Baby Signing Time (Volume 1). There are a ton of DVDs  in the Signing Time series now; you can practically make your kid fluent in ASL. They’re great. There are also great online resources, like Baby Sign Language, and there are plenty of books and wall charts.

I’m bringing this up because the other day at dinner, N busted out “please.” I had been trying to get him to sign “more” and hadn’t attempted “please” yet, so I was totally shocked when he started signing “please” like a crazy person when he saw me cutting up an avocado. Apparently while I had been working on “more,” day care had been working on “please.” (I love day care.) It was a great reminder of how helpful the baby sign language is and how easy it is for babies to pick up, so we’re stepping up our efforts immediately.

Did you sign with your kids? What worked/didn’t work for you?



*If you’re interested in the studies, check out Impact of Symbolic Gesturing on Early Language Development and The Longterm Impact of Symbolic Gesturing During Infancy on IQ at Age 8.



Sign language for babies provides your kid a far a lot of specific way to communicate his desires and wishes. Babies love this, since it's even as frustrating for them as for folks once their crying is wrong understood. Babies who sign will let parents understand exactly what they need, whether or not it's their diaper changed or another serving to of strained sweet potatoes. 

My Signing Star
My Signing Star

Oops, I clicked post and wasn't finished.... Anyways, very quickly after his first birthday he had a sign explosion. By 13 months he knew about 200 signs and would sign in phrases and sentences (more crackers and cheese please). Now he will be two in just a couple weeks, and he knows over 600 signs, (both expressive and receptive) along with a wonderful spoken vocabulary. He also knows all of numbers (0-9), colors, several shapes, and both uppercase and lowercase letters (in English and ASL)... He even interacts well with the Deaf communy and one of his good friends is little boy his age who is Deaf. How awesome is that at just two. This may sound like bragging, but your children are capable of this too. I teach baby n language classes and love seeing the AMAZING benefits it provides families. You don't have to be fluent, it is easy to learn (and fun for the whole family!) Try it, you won't regret it.

realmomofnj moderator

@My Signing Star That is amazing! And I totally agree. The benefits are fantastic. RealBoy has only 5-7 signs, but they're so helpful when it comes to communicating with him. 

My Signing Star
My Signing Star

I'm fluent signer and I signed with my nephew. By 8 months he knew 2 signs (milk & more). By a year he knew over 20 signs


Aiden knew the sign for "more".  He used it ALL THE TIME.  But in the right context - wanting more of a food usually.  It always cracked us and other family/friends up.  That was the only one he knew, and he learned it at daycare too.

Amy at Funny Is Family
Amy at Funny Is Family like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Both of my kids knew a handful of signs, most involving food or drink. At three and five, our conversations still revolve around food. A few of the signs we taught them were mostly for party tricks, and couldn't be considered American Sign Language or baby sign language.


Your post touched on one awesome aspect of daycare. Kids that spend all of their time with a stay home parent have nearly every aspect of their life filtered through the same adult. Daycare children have the benefit of different learning opportunities because they have several grown ups interacting with them. 

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