Baby sign experiences

Date: 28 Jan, 2013
Posted by: admin
In: hints & tips|life & family

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On a parenting forum I started writing about baby sign and realised I’d got a fair bit to say. Enough to make a blog-post or two. Indeed as I set to it I thought it might even be worth sharing our signs. Here goes for a first instalment.

Signing with baby

(no not singing, but that’s good too)

When to start using signs

We started sign at about 6 months (and maybe 5 months 2nd time around) when baby started taking solids, started potty training a week after that too(!). After a about 1½ to 2 months there was recognition and some understanding, 3-4 months some signs being used. Immeasurable benefit IMO as they could ask/tell for/about stuff – milk, toilet, food and express tiredness, hotness – before they’d master vocalisation.

So, why use baby signing? This comment from by dstam goes to the heart of it I feel:

I think the toddler years can be very frustrating for kids. They are learning at a ridiculous rate, both mentally and physically, but are not yet verbal enough or skilled enough to say and do what they really want. I think a lot of their acting out comes from this place of frustration, so I try to really understand my son when he is babbling at me incoherently. If I figure out what he is wanting I try to work on a few key words with him for that situation, like if he wanted a drink I try to teach him to say “thirsty.”

Our experience

Something I posted before [minor edits]:

J started with “light” and “bird” at about 9 months. Interestingly he doesn’t do those signs any more (at 12.5 months) but he appears to recognise +light, +bird, +food, +potty, +poo, +mummy, +daddy, drink, +bed, +music, +speaker, +smell(verb) … at least (+ shows signs he can give). There are a few signs like finish, cat, nice and perhaps others that we’ve been doing a long time but that he hasn’t attempted. There are also some like “smile” where we can’t be sure if he’s responding to the sign or just doing the action.

Will it delay speech?

Some parents express concern that sign will be used instead of speech and so delay speech. We found the contrary but we always used sign and speech together.

Other aspects of our parenting that might have been important include baby-led weaning, they ate primarily the same as us from 5/6 months (hence development of mouth and facial muscles); use of sling (hence see speech production in the mouth and facial forms, hear a lot of parental speech); non use of “baby” talk; we sing a lot.

I highly recommend sign.

How to sign?

We used our own variant words from BSL and some made up signs in about equal measure – we designed the signs to be large movements and easily differentiated.


  • Mummy, tap head with same-side hand;
  • food, [B-hand] closed-pointed fingers towards the mouth (as you’d expect);
  • drink, mime using a cup;
  • mummy milk, tap opposite hand to breast twice;
  • potty, tug clothes around the chest area with same-side hand twice or more (a BSL sign for toilet);
  • nice, thumbs-up hand shape makes a smile, hand moves from opposite to same side (ie right hand moves L->R).

I’m going to try making a couple of videos with some of the signs we used and perhaps some tips about how we used them and such.

Comment if you want to encourage me!

Sorry, comments are closed.


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