9 Benefits of Teaching Your Baby Sign Language (and the 10 most used signs in our home!)

Why you should start teaching your baby sign language TODAY!

When babies are born, their only method of communication is crying. The newborn cries are sweet… in their own way… but as babies get older, the cries can get louder, longer, and (if possible) even more frequent.

Luckily there is an easy and fun way to help babies communicate long before they can talk using Baby Sign Language!

*Disclaimer – some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you make a purchase, but there’s no extra cost to you! For more information, please see the full privacy policy here

How Sign Language Helps Babies Communicate

There are many benefits to teaching baby sign language. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Less Tantrums!!! Let me say it again for the parents in the back. Less frustration = less crying out of frustration!

Signing can help babies express their needs and wants, which reduces their need to throw a fit to get their point across. Anything that cuts down on tantrums is okay by me!

  1. Babies who learn sign language are more likely to develop strong communication skills.

Studies have found that babies who learn sign language communicate more effectively than those who don’t.

Researchers believe this is because when babies use sign language, they are forced to put their thoughts into words, which helps them learn to speak sooner

  1. Sign language can help babies better understand the world around them.

They can interact sooner by pointing at something and then doing the sign for it!

baby sign language

  1. Signing with babies can help foster a stronger parent-child bond.

The best relationships are built on solid communication, and it’s no different with your child.

  1. Babies who sign tend to have larger vocabularies.

Our daughter can’t say “I want to read a book” yet, but she can easily sign “Book” and then I know she wants to read.

  1. Signing allows babies to practice problem-solving earlier as they assess situations and then use their signs to communicate
  2. Babies are able to express their feelings, ideas, and thoughts.
  3. Practicing signs is a great way to develop motor skills.

Most signs don’t look 100% correct when a baby first starts doing them. Our daughter used to clap for “more” at 9 months, but by her first birthday she was able to sign the word “more” the same way we do.

  1. Signing with babies is a fun and easy way to help them learn!

It feels strange at first, but now it’s as automatic as speaking the words out loud. I’ve even accidentally signed “Thank you” as I’ve said it to people in public, haha!

How to use Sign Language with Your Baby

There are so many benefits to teaching your baby sign language, but how and when do you get started?

The good news is that it’s never too early to start teaching your baby sign language. Babies as young as 4 months old can begin to learn simple signs that will help them communicate with their parents.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all babies are ready for it at the same age, but don’t let this discourage you!

Stay consistent with your signing and your baby will start to respond when they are ready.

We started signing with our daughter when she was about 4 months old, and she started signing back to us at around 9 months.

baby sign language

When you are signing with your baby, make sure that you use clear and simple gestures. You should also keep eye contact with your baby and use a positive tone of voice.

We also helped our baby move her hands at first so that she understood that she could also make the signs.

Babies learn best when hearing and seeing signs in the context of sentences.

Repeating the same word over and over with the sign doesn’t work as well as using a word in a sentence with the sign.

For example, do not say “Milk” over and over while doing the sign for milk.

The best way to teach is to do the sign for milk while saying “You’re having milk right now!”, “That is yummy milk, isn’t it?!”, “We like to have milk after nap time.”

Common Signs to Teach Your Baby

Learning a few common signs in sign language can help you communicate with your baby and eventually your baby will be able to communicate back.

It is the best feeling in the world to ask your baby what they want and they are able to tell you!

Below are some of the signs that are commonly used when teaching babies American Sign Language:

  1. Milk
    • Open and close your hand, as if you’re squeezing something in it – kind of like milking a cow!
    • This is a great one to start with because you can do it multiple times a day, every time your baby nurses or has a bottle of milk
    • baby sign language
  2. More
    • Touch your fingers to your thumb on each hand. Tap your fingertips together twice.
  3. All done
    • Hold up your hands with the back of your hands facing your baby. Turn your hands around so that your palms are facing your baby, like showing there is nothing in your hands.
    • We use this one for “All gone”, too. If our daughter is signing that she wants “more” of something but there is nothing left, we’ll use the “All done” sign to let her know it’s gone.
  4. Thank You
    • With an open hand, touch your chin, and then bring your hand out from your face a little ways
  5. Eat
    • Close your hand the same way you do for “more” with your fingertips touching your thumb, and bring your fingertips to your mouth. It looks like you’re putting food in your mouth!
    • Babies might not do this one exactly right at first, but you’ll start to pick up on what they associate with eating!
    • baby sign language
  6. Sleep
    • Start with an open hand in front of your face. Slide your fingers down your face to meet your thumb, and close your eyes as you do this.
    • I do this with our daughter before every nap, and pretty soon she started doing this sign to tell me when she’s tired. It’s a great way to make sure your kiddos are getting to nap at the optimal time.
  7. Bath
    • Close your fists and move them up and down on your chest, like you’re washing your chest
  8. Help
    • Place one fist on an open hand. The open hand will lift the fist up, like a helping hand.
  9.  Water
    • Hold your pinky down with your thumb so that your middle 3 fingers make a W. Tap this W to your lips.
    • This is difficult for babies, so pay attention to what your baby does when you make the sign for water. Our baby uses her whole hand and pats her mouth to sign water!
  10. Change
    • Close both fists and touch the palms of your hands and fingers together. Rotate your hands so that they take turns being on top.
    • “Change” is an important sign because it gives your baby a heads up that you’re transitioning from what they’re currently doing to a diaper change. Signing “change” will help them understand that this break is temporary.
    • When you’re done, sign “All done” and say, “We are ALL DONE,” so that your baby knows changing time is over.
    • According to experts, many parents report that when they use the “change” and “done” signs, the struggle of diaper time goes away!
  11. Book
    • Hold your palms together and open them so that your pinkies are still touching – like you’re opening a book!
    • This is hands down (pun intended) our daughter’s favorite sign right now


Helpful Resources

I’ve loved following @SignNGrow on Instagram – she has lots of helpful tips and tricks, downloads, and even a course!

We also have this “I Can Sign” book & DVD combo and our daughter loves it!

Of course, YouTube videos are very helpful as well. You can go to YouTube and type in just about any word followed by “ASL Sign” and get lots of great videos to teach you the sign.

Amazon also has great books to help your baby learn sign language like My First Book of Baby Signs: 40 Essential Signs to Learn and Practice and Baby Sign Language Made Easy: 101 Signs to Start Communicating with Your Child Now (Baby Sign Language Guides)

As you can see, there are many benefits to teaching your baby sign language.

Besides the obvious benefit of communication, it can also help improve your baby’s cognitive skills and memory.

It’s also very fun to practice with your baby. You’ll be surprised at how well you can talk to your baby after a few months.

I encourage you to give it a try. Your baby will thank you for it – once they learn the sign!

What sign do you think will help you and your baby the most? Let me know in the comments!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *