Baby sign language

"My 13-month-old can only say 'Mama' but can sign 30+ different words."

Credit: Flickr | CarbonNYC

Baby sign language is easy to learn and lots of fun!

Sign language is used as a way for babies to communicate long before they can talk. My son Rhame is 13 months old and can only say “Mama,” but he can sign more than 30 different words.

When he wants something, he is able to ask for it specifically—instead of crying until I figure out what he wants. It makes his and my life a little easier, and I love communicating with him. I know that he is really into airplanes and cars because that is what he talks about the most. It also encourages a baby to communicate by seeing the benefit of it so early.


Baby sign language video by My Smart Hands.

I started signing with my son around six months. At this stage, they are just watching you sign and understanding its meaning. Babies don’t yet have the motor skills to do the sign themselves. He didn’t start signing himself until he was 10 months.

Words baby Rhame signs at 13 months

Baby   More   Open   Milk   Cracker   Banana   Hungry    Water   Hot Drink   Dog   Cat   Horse   Elephant   Giraffe   Lion   Pig   Bunny   Bear   Fish   Alligator   Bird   Duck   Cow  Flower   Car   Truck Boat   Airplane  Please   Thank you   Rain   Hat   Shoes  Socks   Bed   Tired   Bath   Hello   Goodbye  Kiss

Some signs are easier than others for your baby to do. For example, “milk” is your hand opening and closing as if you are milking a cow. “Hungry” is putting your hands to your mouth, which requires more coordination.

The key to success is that the parents are using the signs all the time. It’s the only way your baby will learn. If you only do the sign a couple of times, your baby will not learn it. So every time I nursed him I would sign “milk,” every time I fed him I would sign “hungry” and so on. The signs are very basic and easy to remember, you just have to remember to use them.


Learning baby sign language

There are two ways to learn baby signing: you can take a class or you can do it on your own. I did it on my own after my sister lent me a few books, which I looked at a few times just to remember the signs, and then it was up to me to just keep using them.

Because baby sign language is now quite common, it’s easy to find resources at a book store, library or the Internet.

It is really easy and lots of fun to communicate with your baby.


Classes in Vancouver

Try your local community centre or check out these resources for classes:

Wee Hands | Baby Signs Canada | My Smart Hands


Books on baby sign language

Baby Sign Language Basics: Early Communication for Hearing Babies and Toddlers, by Monta Z. Briant

Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk, Third Edition by Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn & Doug Abrams

Sign with Your Baby Complete Learning Kit: How to Communicate with Infants Before They Can Speak [with DVD] by Joseph Garcia and Burton White