I've had quite a few people ask me lately about the whys and hows of baby signing, so I thought I'd do a post on it, hoping it will be useful for other moms.
Why? I first decided to try baby signing with my first
son because I read that boys are more likely to have delayed speech
development. I also found in my own experience that my children can
cognitively think through what they want to express before they have the
verbal skills to express their needs. Teaching them a few key signs
has been really helpful because it has allowed them to communicate their
needs to me sooner than if we just relied on verbal communication.
How? There are many resources for people interested in
signing with their children. In the board-book selection of almost any
library you will find baby-signing books. Be aware, however, that some
of the books teach "baby signs" that they made up, as opposed to
teaching American Sign Language. You can, of course, make up any sign
that you wish and assign it a meaning. If you do this, you have the
benefit of choosing a movement that your baby already had the muscle
memory for (for example, rubbing the eyes you can teach means
The easiest way is probably to go to an online ASL dictionary,
where you can watch the sign being done. That way you can look up
words and signs as you need them, and you have the benefit of watching a
video of someone signing the word so you can be sure to do it right. This is a good baby signing website that has videos of useful words where they seem to use the correct signs.
words I have found most helpful are: "please" (believe me, a baby
signing please is much better than screaming and pointing!), "milk"
(this one saves some embarrassment in public places when my 15 mo old
wants to nurse!), "thank you," "food," "more," "bath," "book," "hot,"
"cold," "hurt," "bed," "ball," and lots more. If your baby enjoys
signing, there are lots more signs you can learn, like animals, foods,
Have you tried baby signing? What has been your experience? What signs have you taught your children?