sign language for babies

Sign Language for Babies

Sign Language for Babies

New Parents often struggle with trying to understand what the baby needs when they are crying. Is the baby hungry? Or sleepy? Or needs to get their diaper changed? Initially, this leads to a lot of irritability and frustration with the parents. Trying to figure out what your baby needs in the middle of loud cries can be difficult. It would be easier for the parent and the baby if they were taught sign language pre-verbal development. This would help the baby communicate their needs better. 

As your child grows, they use their baby hands for certain baby sign language. They would wave goodbye, give a flying kiss, lift their hands to indicate they want to be lifted. We have oftentimes seen parents showing off their baby’s skills by asking them to identify their nose or objects and showing happiness at the right gestures. These are all baby sign language which the baby picks up while seeing the action repeated. This communication technique can be used to teach the baby important signs to communicate.

Teaching your child baby sign language will help them communicate their needs to you better. Teaching your baby to use his/her hands and teaching them gestures can help ease the frustration that some new parents may feel while trying to figure out what it is that their baby needs. It is as easy as repeating the actions and reinforcing the behavior till the baby has learned them. 

When should the parent teach their baby sign language? – They should start by the 7/8 month when the child is able to identify and associate with objects. 

How does a baby sign benefit the child? – Teaching them sign language helps ease the pre-verbal communication period. Recent studies also show that teaching your baby sign language can help him/her do better, have a higher IQ, and may also stimulate a desire to learn more communication tools/techniques apart from gestures.

These are few tips to help you teach your baby sign language –

  • Keep it simple – Use gestures for things that the baby needs to express their everyday needs. The baby sign language should include a drink, eat, more, come, go, etc. Start with a few signs and then keep adding to the vocabulary.

baby sign language


  • Repetition – You will have to constantly repeat the sign and follow through with the action to teach the child to associate the two. For instance, if the baby needs milk, you will have to use your hands to take the thumb next to the mouth and point to the milk in order to indicate that the sign is for milk. In time the baby will use their hands to indicate the same.


  • Reinforce – If your baby learnt the sign and used it reinforce by giving a smile or clapping and encourage the baby to use their hand gestures and sign language to communicate


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  • Patience is key – It will be some time before your child has picked up on the gestures. Therefore, you will need to be patient until they learn. This may not be possible until the 8th month when the child begins to associate signs.


  • Be watchful – Your baby may already have signs that he/she may have become comfortable with. Try to look out for those and use them instead of trying to change them. For instance – the baby may use pouting as a way to indicate hunger instead of using the thumb action. Avoid changing the sign as it may lead to confusion for the baby.


  • Research – You can also look online, read books or join classes that help teach baby sign languages in order to make yourself to familiarise yourself with the baby signs


  • Baby sign language chart – You can also curate the list of gestures and actions and put it up to help other friends and relatives use the same communication tool for the child so as to not create any confusion


  • Include verbal communication – Ensure that you include words and verbal communication as well. This will help the baby associate words with the baby signs and can pick up on the sound or words when the baby starts talking.


  • Sign Language vocabulary – You can also teach the baby various other signs for animals, number and expand their non-verbal vocabulary. You can also combine signs to teach the baby small phrases.


This type of a non-verbal communication makes your child independent to communicate and eases your difficulty of conversing with your baby. It also enhances social stimulation for the baby as using baby sign language can help the child communicate with more people. Using baby sign language can help you bond with your baby better and strengthen the emotional connection. You can now focus on teaching and bonding with your baby rather than getting irritable.

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