How to Teach Baby Sign Language before Speaking – 8 Signs to Adopt

As new parents, you will probably spend a significant amount of time awake late at night. Your baby may want something. However, he or she is unable to tell you what. Therefore, you both get frustrated. Unhappy babies and tired parents just lead to more tears and sleepless nights. Now, you can continue this cycle until your baby learns to talk and communicate their needs. The alternative is to start teaching them baby sign language.

Baby sign language uses very basic signs that you can begin teaching your baby as early as six months old. By seven to nine months old, babies will start signing back.They way, they can communicate their needs with their parents.

mother hugging baby and watching it in the park

Learning and teaching these signs can really take the guesswork out of determining what your baby needs. As a result, your communication with baby will be much more clear, you will both get more sleep, and be less frustrated.

Babies develop a real interest in communicating around eight or nine months. This is when it is a great time to introduce baby sign language to them. Their fine motor skills are still developing, and they may not be able to execute the signs right away. However, over time, their motor skills and signing will improve. At this point, you’ll be able to communicate before they begin speaking.

Teaching your baby sign language is not as hard as you may fear. Consistency and repetition will have the biggest impact on your baby learning to communicate through sign language. Once your baby has learned a few basic signs, understanding them will be much easier.

Some studies show that learning baby sign language also leads to speaking earlier and having a larger vocabulary. You should always speak what you are signing with your baby to help them learn how to talk as well.

Even if your baby’s signs are not completely accurate, you do not need to correct them every time. Model it for them correctly. They will learn to do it correctly before you know it. Check out these eight basic signs you can teach your baby to start clearing up all of that miscommunication.

Eight Baby Sign Language Signs to Adopt

1. More

baby hands grabbing parent's fingers

As babies grow, they will want to increase the amount they eat. However, they don’t necessarily know how to convey that message. Teaching them how to say “more” in baby sign language gives them the ability to tell you that they are still hungry without the tears.

To teach: Tap your fingertips together twice in front of your chest. Say “More” while you execute the sign.

2. Done

Another important word for your baby to learn to sign is “done.” You can use this to show your baby that something is all gone. Likewise, baby can show you that they are full or don’t want to play with something anymore. This can help prevent your baby from getting overwhelmed and ending up in tears.

To teach: Start with your fingers spread and palms facing your chest. Then, twist them outwards to show that nothing is in your hands. Say “Done” while you execute this sign.

3. Book

mother holding baby boy in her lap and reading him a colorful book

Encourage your baby’s love for reading at an early age by teaching them the sign for book. Together, reading and baby sign language can set your baby up for success for the rest of their lives. Read to your baby every day and encourage them to ask for it as often as they please.

To teach: Start with your hands together, palms touching, and open your hands as if opening a book. Say the word “Book” while you execute the sign.

4. Eat

Every time you engage in an activity, make sure to use the sign at the same time. Consistency is key to learning these signs. Therefore, encourage your baby to use the sign to tell you that they are hungry. Then you can repeat that they want to “eat” and use the sign every time you say it.

To teach: Bring your fingertips to your lips, as if you were going to put food in your mouth. Say the word “Eat” while you execute the sign.

5. Help

Learning to ask for help is a huge part of growing up. Why not get a jump-start a little early? This sign will let your baby tell you when they need your assistance or when they want to be Mommy’s little helper.

To teach: Your right hand should be in a thumbs-up position, resting in the palm of your left hand, and moving in an upward motion. Repeat the word “While” while executing the sign.

6. Share

two babies held in parent's hands sharing a green clover together

Sharing is caring, and learning to share with other babies is never a fun thing to do. However, it will be a smoother learning process if your baby can communicate the idea of sharing. They will be able to let others know if they want to share or not.

To teach: Move your right hand, fingers together, back and forth over the fingers of your left hand. Repeat the word “Share” while you’re doing it.

7. Bath

A baby’s bedtime routine is one of the easiest ways to incorporate baby sign language. It is a special parenting moment that consistently occurs every night.

If a bath is included in the routine, your baby will be able to practice the sign every day. They will be able to let you know when they feel dirty and want to take a bath, or when they are tired and want to start their bedtime routine.

To teach: Move both fists in an inward circular motion, as if you are washing your chest. Say the word “Bath”  clearly while executing the sign.

8. Thank You

thank you hand written note

Manners are an important thing to learn and express as you go through life. There is no reason why a baby can’t learn to say “thank you” at the beginning of her life. Show them that they should say or sign, “thank you” every time someone gives them something.

To teach: Touch your lips with your fingertips, and then move your hand out like you are blowing a kiss. Say “Thank you!” while you are making the gesture.

Final Thoughts

Baby sign language is a great way to communicate with your baby before they can talk. At six months old, they can learn how to say they want more, they need help, and thank you.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could understand what your baby wants without having to play the guessing game? Tell us about your experiences using baby sign language in the comments below.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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