10 Top Baby Sign Language to Teach

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Are you ready to dive into the wonderful world of baby milestones? In this post, you will learn the top baby sign language signs to teach your baby that they can use before they are able to speak in words. As parents, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as watching our little ones hit those developmental milestones, right? From those first adorable smiles to those wobbly first steps, every moment is a milestone worth celebrating!

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you the ultimate guide: the top 10 signs to teach your baby. Whether you’re a seasoned sign language pro or just dipping your toes into the baby sign world, get ready to learn some fantastic ways to communicate with your bundle of joy. Let’s embark on this exciting journey together—because every sign is a step closer to understanding and connecting with our precious little ones!

Angela of Grassfed Mama shares healthy tips for busy moms.
Angela of Grassfed Mama shares healthy tips for busy moms.

Benefits of Teaching Baby Sign Language

As a Speech Therapist, I value  being able to communicate with your baby as early as possible. Babies are born with innate language centers in their brain and are already learning and distinguishing sounds in the womb!

As a baby grows and develops they are quickly picking up on new sequences for meaning as well. For example, when you are developing a bedtime routine, your baby is learning the sequence that happens before they go to sleep. Even more specifically, babies can learn signs and match them to meaning before they can speak (or sequences they have learned).

10 Signs to Teach Your Baby
10 Baby Sign Language Signs to Teach Your Baby

Why Should we Teach Signs to Babies?

Have you even really thought about how complex the process is to make a word? Let’s think about it for a minute. You think of an idea in the area of your brain that holds your words and language. Your brain sends that message to the part of your brain responsible for motor control and movement (motor cortex).

Then, that message goes to the individual muscles that need to know how fast, how hard, and when to move. Whew! And we do it all in about a second!

For babies, speaking is very complex for their developing brains. The movements needed for different sounds are so difficult, some are not even mastered until age 5.

When to start teaching baby sign language?

Babies understand FAR MORE than they are able to communicate through speaking.

You can start showing signs at any time, we start around 4-6 months right when babies are starting to become more aware of using sounds and hearing changes in your tone of voice.

Teaching your baby sign language will improve their language ability. 

Research shows us that babies who learned sign language showed improved cognitive and emotional development. Their rate of verbal development was also increased.


What makes a good sign to teach your baby?

When it comes to teaching your baby sign language, a good sign is like a secret handshake between you and your little one. So, what makes a sign really stand out? Well, first off, think simplicity! Look for signs that are easy for tiny hands to mimic and understand. Next up, relevance is key! Choose signs that relate to your baby’s daily routines and interests—like “milk” for feeding time or “play” for fun moments together. Oh, and don’t forget about consistency! Stick to using the same signs consistently in your interactions to help your baby grasp their meaning faster. And last but not least, have fun with it! The best signs are the ones that spark joy and connection between you and your adorable bundle of joy.


How to teach baby sign language?

Babies are always learning from their environment, so just start by modeling the sign when you say the word. When we are teaching “Sleepy” or “Tired”, we will say right before bedtime “Annaleigh is Sleepy (modelling the sign while saying sleepy)”

After a few times, you can even try to move the babies hand to mimic making the sign and say the word at the same time. When teaching “Milk” , I will model the sign while I am breastfeeding. Just like when learning to speak, there is no need to wait until one sign is mastered to teach the next. You can start teaching them all at once. 

Here are some fun and friendly tips to get you started teaching baby sign language:

1. Start Simple

Begin with a few basic signs that are relevant to your baby’s daily routine. Think “milk,” “eat,” “more,” and “all done.” These simple signs will help your baby communicate their needs and desires from an early age.

2. Be Consistent

Consistency is key when teaching baby sign language. Use the same signs consistently in your interactions with your little one, and be patient as they begin to recognize and imitate them.

3. Use Repetition

Repetition helps reinforce learning, so don’t be afraid to repeat signs often throughout the day. Repetition also gives your baby more opportunities to observe and practice the signs themselves.

4. Make it Fun

Learning should always be fun, especially for little ones! Incorporate signs into your daily routines in playful and engaging ways. Sing songs, read books with signing, and use signs during playtime to keep things light and enjoyable.

5. Follow Your Baby’s Lead

Every baby learns at their own pace, so be sure to follow your baby’s lead and adjust your teaching approach accordingly. Some babies may pick up signs quickly, while others may take more time to catch on.

6. Offer Plenty of Encouragement

Celebrate your baby’s efforts and successes along the way! Shower them with praise and encouragement whenever they attempt to sign, even if it’s not perfect. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in motivating your little one to keep trying.

7. Be Patient

Learning any new skill takes time and patience, so be patient with yourself and your baby as you navigate this new adventure together. Remember, it’s okay to take things one step at a time and enjoy the journey along the way.

Teaching your baby sign language is a wonderful way to foster communication and strengthen your bond with your little one. With these friendly tips in your toolkit, you’re well on your way to creating a world filled with smiles, giggles, and meaningful connections through signing.

These are the signs we use. These may not be ASL (American Sign Language), but they hold meaning and that is what makes them a sign:

10 Top Baby Sign Language to Teach Your Baby

Let’s dive into the top 10 signs to teach your baby, opening up a whole new world of communication and bonding:

1. “More”

Teaching your baby the sign for “more” is like unlocking a magical button for endless snacks and activities! This versatile sign can be used to ask for more food, more playtime, or even more cuddles.

2. “Eat”

Help your little one express their hunger with the sign for “eat.” It’s a great way for them to let you know when it’s time for their next meal or snack.

3. “All done”

Once mealtime is over, teach your baby the sign for “all done” to let you know they’ve had their fill. It’s a handy way to prevent food-related tantrums and communicate their needs effectively.

4. “Milk”

Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, the sign for “milk” is a game-changer. Your baby can let you know when they’re ready to nurse or have their bottle without frustration.

5. “Please” and “Thank you”

Manners matter, even for the tiniest members of the family! Teaching your baby the signs for “please” and “thank you” helps instill politeness from an early age and encourages positive communication habits.

6. “Mom” and “Dad”

Give your baby the tools to express their love and identify their favorite people with the signs for “mom” and “dad.” It’s heartwarming to see their faces light up when they can call out to you by name.

7. “Sleep”

Help your little one communicate their need for rest with the sign for “sleep.” It’s especially helpful for establishing bedtime routines and recognizing when they’re feeling tired.

8. “Play”

Encourage your baby’s sense of adventure and curiosity by teaching them the sign for “play.” They’ll love being able to express their desire for fun and exploration!

9. “Book”

Foster a love for reading early on by introducing the sign for “book.” Your baby will delight in being able to request their favorite storytime activities.

10. “Hug” and “Kiss”

Last but certainly not least, teach your baby the signs for “hug” and “kiss” to promote affectionate bonding moments. There’s nothing sweeter than receiving a spontaneous hug or kiss from your little one!

Best Baby Sign Language Books

My First Book of Baby Signs: 40 Essential Signs to Learn and Practice

Baby Sign Language Made Easy: 101 Signs to Start Communicating with Your Child Now (Baby Sign Language Guides)

Baby Signs: A Baby-Sized Introduction to Speaking with Sign Language Board book

Autism and Sign Language

I wanted to give you a unique update for our family. We first starting demonstrating signs to our baby from the very beginning. When he was 1-2 years old, he used the signs “All Done” and “More” – but he didn’t copy any other signs that we used. When he was around 1.5 years, I started thinking that his language may be developing differently from normal speech and language in toddlers.

At first, we thought that he was just language delayed because he had good eye contact and was pretty social and engaged with us. After he turned two, he started losing some social skills and we were referred to get him evaluated for autism. The process to get him evaluated was not a quick one due to long wait lists.

After we learned that he was autistic at 2.5, it made more sense of why he was struggling to learn and use sign language (although some individuals are able to learn signs). In general, he was struggling with copying hand gestures (and had some fine motor delay too that also impacted his ability to use signs).

After receiving occupational therapy and speech, he is able to point to what he wants and also model signs accurately. Because his speech has developed alongside these other skills, he doesn’t use signs to communicate, but he uses the same skills to learn social signs like waving, thumbs up, high-fives, peace sign.

For many kiddos on the autism spectrum, verbal communication can sometimes feel like a puzzle with missing pieces. That’s where sign language swoops in like a superhero! Picture this: instead of struggling to find the right words, your little one can express themselves with gestures and signs, opening up a whole new world of communication. It’s like giving them a magic wand to wave away frustration and confusion! Plus, signing isn’t just about words—it’s about forging deeper connections and understanding between you and your child. So, whether it’s a playful wave or a heartfelt sign for “I love you,” embracing sign language can be a beautiful journey for both you and your amazing kiddo on the autism spectrum.

Let the Signing Adventures Begin

There you have it, lovely moms! These top 10 signs are just the beginning of your baby’s signing journey. By incorporating sign language into your daily interactions, you’re not only fostering communication skills but also strengthening your bond with your precious little one. So, grab those tiny hands, and let the signing adventures begin!

Have you taught your baby any signs?

What signs were the most helpful?

More Posts to Check Out

Activities to Encourage Speech and Language at Home

The Best Sensory Play

Best Toys for One Year Olds

Service Dogs for Autism Support

Our Journey Through a Nonverbal Autism Diagnosis at 2.5 years

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Angela Parker
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  1. We did signs with my 5 year old when she was a baby. She picked up on them so easily and I have been starting them now with my newest little one.

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