Baby sign language: A helpful communication tool

Baby sign language: A helpful communication tool

When your children cannot communicate their needs to their parents or other caregivers, they may be frustrated and find it challenging to control their emotions.  Therefore, baby gestures and signs can aid parents and caregivers in early communication skills with their children. 

baby sign language

You can enhance your bond with your baby with baby signs, as you can respond to your baby’s communication via signs. Help your child also to regulate his or her emotions by using baby sign language when stressed or during nap times. 

According to pediatrician Howard Reinstein of Encino, California and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the majority of babies have the physical capability and cognitive ability to acquire some form of sign language at about 8 months of age [1].

Benefits of teaching babies sign language

Some key benefits of teaching babies sign language include enabling the baby to evince their thoughts and desires, thus reducing frustration owing to communication issues. Moreover, children with developmental disabilities benefit from baby sign language.  

When parents learn and use more sign language, they can bridge gaps between them and their children who may be deaf or hard of hearing. Thus, parents can better take care of their children’s needs, especially in the crucial developmental stages. 

Below, we explore ways to teach your baby sign language:

  • Repetition: Repeat the same sign, or signs,regularly so your baby can become acquainted with the sign and its meaning. For example, during mealtimes, practise signs like “eat”, “drink,” , “full” and “more”.

  • Verbalise the word: Each time you teach a sign, say the word pertaining to the sign out as well. By doing so, your baby would become acquainted with both the sign and the word linked to it. 

  • Patience: Fret not if your baby is not absorbing and acquiring knowledge of sign language as quickly as you hope he or she can be. This is because different babies learn at different speeds. As such, your baby may require a bit more time before being able to copy it. Enjoy the process of teaching your baby and do not rush.

  • Pay attention: Focus on your baby so you know when he or she is trying to communicate to you via sign language. If you are distracted or neglecting your child, you would miss out on his or her tries to communicate.

  • Select the most relevant signs: Plan ahead in advance regarding the signs you will use and select signs suitable for your baby’s needs. Start with just a few signs and increase them as you get used to them. Fear not about having too many signs for the baby. More signs would not impact spoken language.

  • Consistency is key: Consistency is vital. When you introduce a sign, always use the same word and verbalise it in front of your baby to teach him or her. Then, your baby can link the sign to the word and its given meaning. For instance, when feeding your baby with milk, say “milk” and showcase the sign for milk (an open and closed fist).

  • Encourage your baby: Reply quickly and in an encouraging manner when your baby successfully communicates his or her wants or needs to you. Attend to their request as soon as you can. When your baby realizes that communicating via sign language could obtain what they need, they would be encouraged to use it more often. [2]

Sign language is a very useful life skill that can be learned at an early age. Parents and babies can rely on and use sign language to benefit from communication and better family bonding. 


[1] M. S. U. E. Kylie Rymanowicz and Frank Cox, “Baby sign language: A helpful communication tool,” Early Childhood Development, 21-Jan-2022. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 22-Sep-2022]. 

[2] K. Valeii and E. Cinelli, “How to teach your baby sign language,” Verywell Family, 20-Dec-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 28-Sep-2022].


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