There is a terrific resource available for baby signs — a baby sign language dictionary that shows a video of a particular sign as well as a diagram showing the sign as well. The dictionary covers over 600 of the common signs you might use with your child and can be found at BabySignLanguage.com.
One of the things I did with my children that they loved was to sing and sign songs to them. You can incorporate the signs you learn into the songs you sing with your child, and I also showed a few of the songs my children loved in some of the videos in the Baby Sign Course (you will see these videos below):
Video #1 – Signs To Start With starting at the 5:19 mark (the counting song and then a song I use for distracting a child (when they are fussy, etc) “Did you ever see a fish …”),
and on Video #2 – Farm Animals at 4:50 “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”.
The goal of signing with your baby is to communicate better with your child, and when your child is learning to sign they will often sign back in ways that are a bit different than how you sign. So while I think it is important for you to sign correctly and the same way every time, it is fine that your child may sign back in a more relaxed or shorthand manner.
For example, the sign for dog is to slap your leg and then snap your fingers (as though you were calling a dog). When our child first signed dog, she just hit her leg a lot — and that was great. She also generalized this sign at first to cover all sorts of animals, and that is common as well to. We would just say to her, yes, that is a (whatever the animal really was, a squirrel, bird, etc), and make the correct sign for that animal so she would begin to pick up on the different signs for different animals.
I know that often you may find that your hands are occupied, which makes signing with your child a bit more challenging. So in these cases, just sign with one hand as best as you can. For example, the baby sign for cat is two hands tracing whiskers on your face. But if you only have one hand free and you see a cat, you can just use one hand to trace the whiskers as you say “cat”. This is actually the ASL sign for cat, but when signing with babies, I find it’s more effective and iconic to use both hands.
This is among the most frequently asked questions I get, and my answer is always that it can’t hurt to start as early as you can.
I know having a baby can be overwhelming, and you may not have the energy to do baby signing right after your baby is born. I was lucky since I already knew sign language, and so I didn’t have to learn anything to be able to start signing with my baby.
But if you look even at just the first video of my Free Baby Sign Video course (click here to see this video), it is just 12 signs to start with and covers the first signs we found ourselves using with our daughters.
I’ve seen some places that say to start signing with your baby at 4 months, but I started at birth and I do think if you can start earlier you get a head start on imparting this to your baby.
The most important thing, when you do feel you have it in you to start signing with your baby, is to use the signs consistently as you say the words or do the activity they describe. So every time you would ask your baby if they want “more”, you would sign “more” as well.
My daughters started signing back at 6 – 7 months, and I don’t think this is particularly unusual if you start signing early and often with your baby.
To see the first video for free and also get my 11 Video Baby Signing course for free, Click Here to see the first video of my Baby Sign Video course and The Full Free Baby Sign Course
I’m David, and I’m the husband of the founder of SignBabySign, Jane Rosenberg.
Jane is an extraordinary person, and I am just so happy to be helping her get her work on baby signing out to fathers and mothers, and anyone else, interested in communicating with their babies.
She put together this free video course on baby signing based on the signs she used with our kids and the classes she taught with other mothers and their babies.
What is great about these videos is that they cover the basics you need to start communicating with your baby through sign, and Jane also makes it fun by putting in songs, animals, and other signs that our kids really enjoyed.
Does it work? I can only speak about my experience. But I feel strongly that of all the different things we did with our kids, baby signing was the most important. There is just nothing like being able to communicate with your child and know what they are thinking and their being able to express their needs and feelings.
Our first born knew upwards of 300 signs when she started talking, and this meant we got to know much earlier than most parents what was going on in our kids head, what she wanted, and to avoid her being frustrated and ending up crying because she couldn’t get her point across.
No terrible twos for our kids because they could let us know what they wanted.
Our second had her first sign at 6 months or so, and she hasn’t stopped communicating since. Her ability to chat up strangers is second to none.
I hope you will try out Jane’s Baby Sign course, and the best part is that it is absolutely free.
To see the first video for free and also get her 11 Video Baby Signing course for free, Click Here to see the first video of her Baby Sign Video course and The Full Free Baby Sign Course