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Baby Sign Language

Breaking the Barrier: Baby Sign Language and Nonverbal Communication

Breaking the Barrier: Baby Sign Language and Nonverbal Communication

As parents, we all know the feeling of frustration when we can’t understand what our babies are trying to tell us. They are crying, making noises, and pointing at things, but we just can’t seem to connect the dots and figure out what they really want. This is when using baby sign language can really come in handy, and break down the communication barrier between parents and babies.

The Basics of Baby Sign Language

Baby sign language is a form of communication that uses hand gestures or signs to convey words and meanings. It is typically used with babies and young children who have not yet developed the ability to speak clearly and effectively communicate their needs and wants.

The beauty of using baby sign language is that it can be a lot easier for babies to learn to use their hands to sign than to try to put words together. They can start as early as six months old, and it’s a great way to encourage earlier communication skills.

The Benefits of Using Baby Sign Language

There are numerous benefits to using baby sign language, both for parents and their babies. Here are just a few of them:

  • Helps Parents Connect with Their Babies: One of the main benefits of using baby sign language is that it helps parents connect with their babies in a more meaningful way. When parents are able to understand what their babies are trying to communicate, it can help build a stronger bond between them.
  • Encourages Earlier Communication: By using baby sign language, parents can encourage their babies to communicate earlier than they might otherwise. This can help avoid frustration and tantrums that can result from miscommunication.
  • Enhances Vocabulary: When babies learn to use signs for different words, it can help enhance their vocabulary when they start to speak. They may be more likely to recognize certain words and associate them with their corresponding signs.
  • Improves Cognitive and Motor Skills: Learning to use hand gestures and signs can help improve babies’ cognitive and motor skills, as they have to focus on coordinating their hands and fingers to make the different signs.

The Most Common Baby Sign Language Signs

There are a wide variety of baby sign language signs that parents can teach their babies, but it’s important to start with the most common and practical ones. Here are a few of the most popular baby sign language signs:

  • ‘Milk’ – Make a milking motion with your fist.
  • ‘More’ – Tap your fingertips together repeatedly.
  • ‘All Done’ – Wave your hands back and forth in front of your body.
  • ‘Help’ – Place your fist on your opposite open palm and move them both up and down.
  • ‘Eat’ – Bring your fingertips to your mouth and make a chewing motion.
  • ‘Sleep’ – Put your head on one hand and close your eyes.

Tips for Teaching Baby Sign Language

Here are some tips for parents who want to teach their babies baby sign language:

  • Start Early: Babies can start learning signs as early as six months old. The earlier you start, the more natural it will become for them.
  • Repeat Often: Just like any new skill, learning baby sign language takes practice and repetition. Repeat the signs often and make them a part of your daily routines.
  • Be Consistent: Make sure to use the same signs consistently with your baby, so they can start to recognize the signs and their corresponding meanings more easily.
  • Be Patient: It may take some time for your baby to start using signs on their own, but if you keep practicing together, they will eventually catch on.


Overall, using baby sign language can be a great tool for parents who want to break down the communication barrier with their babies. By teaching babies to use hand gestures and signs, parents can encourage earlier communication, enhance vocabulary, and build a stronger bond with their babies. With a little patience and practice, baby sign language can be an effective way to improve communication skills for the whole family.

Breaking the Barrier: Baby Sign Language and Nonverbal Communication FAQ

What is baby sign language?

Baby sign language is a method of teaching babies basic communication skills through sign language gestures. This allows babies who may not yet be able to vocalize their needs to communicate with their parents or caregivers.

Is baby sign language effective?

Yes, research has shown that baby sign language can be a very effective tool in early communication development. It can help to reduce frustration and temper tantrums in babies who cannot yet vocalize their needs. It may also help to boost cognitive development and language acquisition.

At what age can I start teaching my baby sign language?

You can start teaching your baby sign language as early as 6 months old. However, it’s important to remember that every baby is different and will develop at their own pace. Some babies may not be ready to start signing until they are a bit older.

What signs should I start with?

It’s important to start with simple signs that correspond to your baby’s basic needs, such as “eat,” “drink,” and “more.” You can also introduce signs that correspond to their interests, such as “dog” or “book.”

How do I teach my baby sign language?

To start teaching your baby sign language, simply repeat the gesture as you say the corresponding word. For example, if you are teaching your baby the sign for “eat,” repeat the sign while saying “eat” every time you feed them. You can also incorporate signing into playtime and other daily routines.

What if my baby doesn’t start signing?

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t start signing right away. Remember that every baby develops at their own pace and some may take longer to catch on than others. Keep practicing the signs and be patient. You may also want to speak with your pediatrician or a speech therapist if you have concerns about your baby’s communication development.

Does teaching my baby sign language delay their speech development?

No, there is no evidence to suggest that teaching your baby sign language will delay their speech development. In fact, some research suggests that it may actually enhance their language development by giving them an early start on communication skills.

Do I have to be fluent in sign language to teach my baby?

No, you don’t have to be fluent in sign language to teach your baby. You only need to learn a few basic signs to get started. There are also many resources available, such as books and videos, that can help you learn and teach the signs.

Can other people understand my baby’s signs?

Yes, many of the signs used in baby sign language are based on American Sign Language (ASL) or other established sign languages, so they are widely recognized. However, it may be helpful to teach family members and caregivers the signs so that they can better communicate with your baby.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when teaching my baby sign language?

Some common mistakes include using too many signs too quickly, not repeating the signs consistently, and not being patient enough. It’s also important to remember that signing is not a substitute for verbal communication. Make sure to continue speaking to your baby regularly and using verbal language in conjunction with signing.

When should I stop using signs with my baby?

There’s no set age to stop using signs with your baby. Some parents continue to use signing as their child’s language skills develop, while others may stop once their child starts using more verbal communication. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your child to decide when to stop using signs.

Related Products for Baby Sign Language Communication

  • Baby Sign Language Book

    A book on baby sign language can be an excellent reference guide for parents who want to learn more about sign language and its benefits. The book usually contains step-by-step instructions and illustrations explaining the different signs and how to incorporate them into your baby’s daily routine.

  • Baby Sign Language Flashcards

    Flashcards can be a fun and interactive way to introduce sign language to your baby. The flashcards usually have a picture of the object or the action they represent along with the sign. It can aid in visual learning and help your baby learn new signs much faster.

  • Baby Sign Language DVD/Online Course

    If you prefer a more structured learning experience, you can opt for a baby sign language DVD or online course. The program may include videos, tutorials, and games to keep the baby engaged while learning sign language.

  • Baby Sign Language Chart/Poster

    A sign language chart or poster can be a handy reference tool for parents and caregivers. It usually contains a list of commonly used signs along with their respective images and descriptions. You can hang the chart or poster in your baby’s room or a high-traffic area in the house for easy reference.

  • Baby Sign Language Toys

    There are toys available in the market that can aid in teaching sign language to babies and toddlers. These toys may have buttons that produce sign language videos or sounds when pressed, giving the baby an audio-visual learning experience.

  • Baby Sign Language App

    A baby sign language app can be a convenient way to learn and practice sign language on the go. The app may have sign language tutorials, quizzes, and games that can keep your baby engaged and entertained while learning new signs.

  • Baby Sign Language Pillow

    A baby sign language pillow can be a cute and functional addition to your baby’s room. The pillow may have sign language images printed on it, and you can use it to play sign language games or to teach your baby new signs.

  • Baby Sign Language Board Book

    Board books are an excellent choice for babies and toddlers who love to explore books with their hands and mouth. A baby sign language board book contains bright illustrations and simple sign language descriptions, making it easy for your baby to learn new signs.

  • Baby Sign Language Wall Decor

    You can add a touch of creativity to your baby’s room with baby sign language wall decor. There are various designs available, such as personalized name signs, custom designed signs, and inspirational quotes with sign language images.

  • Baby Sign Language Onesie

    A baby sign language onesie can be a fun way to introduce your baby to sign language. The onesie may have a cute image of a sign language action or word printed on it, and you can use it to initiate sign language conversations with your baby.

Pros & Cons: Breaking the Barrier – Baby Sign Language and Nonverbal Communication


  • Enhances Communication: Baby sign language enables parents and babies to communicate effectively even before the baby learns to speak. This reduces frustration, tantrums, and miscommunication. It allows infants to express their needs, wants, and emotions coherently and helps parents understand them better.
  • Boosts Cognitive Development: Learning to sign positively impacts a baby’s cognitive abilities, including brain development. It helps improve memory, IQ, and attention spans. Studies indicate that babies who use sign language develop better spatial-temporal reasoning and are more prepared for school.
  • Fosters Bonding: Baby sign language is an excellent way to boost parent-child interaction and bonding from an early age. Signing requires eye contact, physical touch, and facial expressions, which enhance emotional connections. Also, when parents respond positively to sign language gestures, babies feel understood, validated, and cared for.
  • Reduces Stress: Baby sign language helps parents reduce their stress levels. When babies use sign language to communicate, parents can respond quickly and accurately, which limits frustration and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings. This leads to happier, healthier, and less stressed caregivers and babies.
  • Cultivates Multilingual Skills: When a baby learns sign language, they can communicate in a non-native language in a clear and concise manner. This skill allows babies to learn and retain multiple languages more efficiently, making them more likely to become bilingual or multilingual later in life. Moreover, it opens the door to a broader range of cultures and experiences.
  • Cons:

  • Limited Vocabulary: As with any language, baby sign language has a limited vocabulary. Some nuanced or abstract concepts cannot be translated into a singular gesture, which may lead to misunderstandings or communication breakdowns.
  • Requires Consistency: Baby sign language requires consistency and practice for it to be effective. Parents must continually sign and use the appropriate gestures, and it can take several months for babies to understand the signs and respond appropriately. This may require extra effort and may not be feasible for some parents.
  • May Delay Speaking: Although using sign language does not hinder speaking skills, some babies may rely heavily on signs to communicate and delay speaking. Some studies show that babies who use sign language may speak later than those who do not.
  • Not Universally Understood: Baby sign language is not universally understood, and not everyone will recognize a baby’s particular gestures. It may cause confusion when communicating with people outside the immediate family or caregiver circle and may not be useful in public settings or daycare facilities.
  • No Absolute Guarantee: While baby sign language has many benefits, it doesn’t work for every parent-baby pair. Some babies may have difficulties using signs, and some parents may not be comfortable or able to incorporate it into their lifestyle. In some cases, the baby may not show interest or may resist the idea.

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