As a parent, there's nothing more fulfilling than witnessing your baby's first steps, first words, and first signs of independence. And as much as we cherish these moments, there's also nothing more frustrating than not being able to understand what they need or want.

But wait, what if there was an easy solution to this? This is where baby sign language comes in place!

Baby sign language is an incredible way to help your baby communicate before they can speak, and it's also a fun and interactive way for you to bond with your baby. 

In this blog, we'll explore some basic baby sign language words that you can start teaching your baby today!

Keep reading to know more!

What is baby sign language?

Baby sign language is more or less like a communication tool that utilizes simple hand gestures (signs) that correspond with everyday words used between parents and their babies.

This method helps improve communication between parents and young children who have the ability to hear, but cannot yet speak. 

By teaching baby sign language, you can empower your non-verbal child to communicate their needs before they are able to articulate them with words.

Using sign language to communicate with your baby can make interactions easier and smoother, making the whole experience less frustrating for both you and your baby.

Benefits of baby sign language

Baby sign language helps parents and babies communicate with each other before babies learn to speak. Research has shown that teaching your baby sign language has a multitude of benefits for both the baby and the parents.

  • Firstly, it reduces frustration and tantrums in babies as they can express their needs and wants with ease. This leads to a calmer household as the baby can communicate effectively and avoid becoming frustrated and upset.
  • It helps in the development of the child’s cognitive and language skills. The use of signs strengthens the connection between the child’s thoughts and words and helps them build a strong foundation for future language development.
  • Furthermore, baby sign language is also beneficial for parents. It enhances the bond between parent and child as it allows for a deeper level of communication and understanding. 

It also helps parents understand the needs of their babies, leading to a more harmonious household.

From reducing frustration for both parties to enhancing the bond between the parent and child, the benefits of baby sign language are numerous.

11 basic baby sign language words to teach your baby

Teaching sign language to your baby can be a fun and effective way to communicate before they start speaking. Here are 11 basic baby sign language words to start with:

1. Sleep

To show "sleep" in baby sign language, make a fist with one hand and place it under your cheek as if you were sleeping. This simple gesture is easy for babies to understand and can help them communicate their desire for a nap or bedtime.

2. Hungry

Make a fist with your hand and place it on your chest. Open your hand and bring it to your mouth. Then, close your hand again and bring it back to your chest. In this way, you can teach your baby the word “hungry.”

3. Milk

The sign for "milk" in baby sign language is quite simple. To show "milk," you'll need to bring your hand to your mouth and suck in as if you're drinking from a bottle or glass. 

You can also use this sign whenever you offer your baby a bottle or cup of milk to help them associate the sign with the word.

4. Water

To show "water" in baby sign language, make a fist and place it in front of your mouth like you are drinking from a cup. Move the fist back and forth towards your mouth a few times. 

5. More

The sign for "more" in baby sign language is made by moving your open hand in a circular motion, indicating that you want more. 

Show the sign while repeating the word "more" to help your baby associate the sign with the word.

6. All done

To show "all done" in baby sign language, simply close your hand and bring it down. This simple gesture is easy for babies to learn and helps them communicate when they're finished with a task or activity. 

7. Yes

To show "yes" in baby sign language, nod your head up and down. Keep the motion simple and consistent so your baby can easily understand the association.

8. No

To show "no" in baby sign language, simply shake your head from side to side. This gesture is an easy one for babies to understand and is a clear way to indicate "no" without using words. 

9. Mom

To teach your baby how to sign "mom" in sign language, make the gesture by holding your fingers apart and tapping your thumb to your chin with your pinkie facing forward. 

This simple sign will help your baby communicate and address their favourite person in sign language.

10. Dad

The dad can do the same sign language as the mom too. 

11. Play

The sign for "play" in baby sign language involves bringing your open hands together and then separating them, as if playing with something. To help your baby understand the sign, use it consistently when playing with toys and games. 

Show excitement and use exaggerated gestures to make the sign more engaging. 

How to teach sign language to your baby?

Teaching sign language to your baby can be a fun and rewarding experience. 

If you're wondering how to go about it, here are some tips to get started

  • Start with basic signs: Begin with simple signs such as “milk,” “eat,” “more,” “sleep,” and “all done.” These signs are easy for your baby to learn and are also practical for everyday use.
  • Use signs consistently: Consistency is key when teaching sign language to your baby. Use the signs every time you say the words and your baby will soon pick up on the connection.
  • Show, don't tell: Use gestures and body language to help your baby understand the signs. Point to their bottle when signing “milk” or act out the sign for “sleep” by pretending to sleep yourself.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat: The more you repeat the signs, the more likely your baby is to learn them.
  • Be patient: Babies develop at their own pace and it may take some time for them to pick up the signs. Don't get discouraged and give them the time needed for them to get familiar with it. 
  • Make it fun: Incorporate sign language into your daily routines and playtime. Use songs, games, and books to help your baby learn and have fun at the same time.

By following these tips, you and your baby can start communicating and bonding through sign language in no time.

When is the right time to start teaching sign language to your baby?

The right time to start teaching sign language to your baby is around 6 to 8 months of age. This is when babies start to develop their fine motor skills and can begin to use hand gestures to communicate their needs and wants. 

Additionally, many babies start to understand words and gestures long before they are able to speak, so sign language can be a helpful tool for parents to use to connect with their babies and understand their needs. 

However, every baby develops at their own pace, so it's important to start when it feels comfortable for both you and your baby.

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Teaching your baby basic sign language can be a fun and exciting way to communicate with your little one before they start speaking. 

With the words we discussed in this blog, you can start signing and bonding with your baby today. 

Remember to be consistent and patient in the process. Don't get discouraged if it takes a while for your baby to pick up the signs. With time, your baby will soon be signing and communicating with you in a whole new way. 

And if you are looking for baby gear and other baby care products, don’t forget to check out 1st Step!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How do I start teaching my baby sign language?
  • Saying the word and doing the gesture at the same time is the first step in teaching your baby sign language. Each time you say the word, pair it with the sign. Remember to keep doing it repetitively for it to store in your baby’s mind. 

  • Can I teach my 4-month-old sign language?
  • As soon as your baby is born, you can start signing with them. However, you should know that they might not be able to sign back until they are 6 months old. 

  • What sounds should I teach my baby?
  • It's easier for babies to produce consonants made with their lips, such as "m," "b," or "p." For example, "ma-ma" is easier for a baby to say than "da-da."

  • What are the easiest words to teach a baby?
  • The easiest words to teach a baby include "mama", "dada", "milk", "dog", "cat", "book", "baba" (for pacifier), and "ball". Start with familiar objects & people. 

  • When should I start my baby with sign language?
  • The best time to begin communicating with your kid in signs is when they are 6-8 months old. Babies typically go through a stage of development in this age gap where they are eager to communicate and pay more attention to everything around them.

    March 02, 2023 — Aatish Mandot