Getting Started with Baby Sign Language
There is nothing better than the feeling of communication with your baby. Their eyes light up and they beam with pride. So you can imagine what an amazing tool of confidence sign language is for infants and toddlers when they cannot yet articulate their words. The bond, it establishes between babes and their parents is fulfilling. Plus into the toddler years especially it helps children avoid the need to get frustrated (in most cases haha) because they can ask for what they need.
I remember Evelyn’s “first sign” as well and as fondly as her “first word”. She had said her first word around 3 months “hi” (hah-aiiy) and loved saying it when we entered the room and especially when the dogs came around. Mama, Dada, dog (her favorite) soon followed.
Her first sign was milk. Making right hand and fingers slowly into a fist. It was in July at the beach. She was so cute wearing her swimsuit. And being thirsty she put it together and began bringing her fingers in and the wrist as well.
This is important to note because signs can have their own “slang” to them similar to words. Evelyn’s “milk” sign could be slightly abbreviated or exaggerated and add in motion compared to your baby’s sign for milk. Especially in the beginning where they are just grasping and articulating through motion this form of communication.
How I Learned
When I worked as sales manager at Zukababy, a local natural parenting store in New Orleans, I worked alongside an amazing gal named Casey. Casey and her son Asa (at the time 4 months-1 year) would be our shop baby. It was such a surreal environment to have babies be able to work alongside mamas. What a blessing! Casey is all things innovative, supportive, and forward thinking. She would always say the word and put a sign associated with it. Before I knew it - Asa was signing what he wanted before he even cried out. She began teaching sign language classes at the store and I would watch as mamas would bring in their 4 month (even up to 2 year olds).
When I Started
I started signing with words when Evelyn was just around 3 months. The key is - you start as early as possible. They may not be able to sign back. But the pattern that you are teaching is being taught! This was all helped by my amazing sister in law Nicki McGowan - who got her degree in Speech Therapy. SO she is an expert on putting together sign cues and helping babies make the transition!
What Signs We Started
Milk: This was a priority because after all - signally when they feel hungry and thirsty is one of the most important areas of their lives at this point right? Milk is signed by making opening and closing your hand, like you are milking a cow. This is a very useful sign for babies who are breast feeding or on formula.
More: Signalling more is very useful for many situations from eating to playing a fun game like itsy bitsy spider. More is signed by tapping your finger tips together. This is a very versatile sign useful in many contexts, and is often the first sign learned.
Dog: Since we have 3 dogs haha! Dog looks like you are calling a dog, by tapping your hand on your thigh.
All Done: Helps baby feel in control because can signal when they are full. All Done is signed by twisting your hands back and forth. It allows baby to tell you they are finished eating.
Please: her sign for "please" is made by placing your flat right hand over the center of your chest. Move your hand in a clockwise motion (from the observer's point of view, use a circular motion towards your left, down, right, and back up) a few times.
Loud: Covering ears and arms over head.
Which Signs Evelyn First Showed
- #1 Milk
- #2 More
- #3 Dog
- #4 All Done
- #5 Loud
- #6 Please (Nicki my sister in law got her doing this one by 12 months)
If you have any baby sign questions or need further advice, feel free to contact me here or on any social media platform!
- Essentially Bee