The scoop on using sign language to help your baby communicate

Every parent has experienced the frustration of their baby pointing at something, but not understanding what they really want. Then frustration turns into tantrums and tears, for both parents and baby.

It’s a myth that signing discourages babies from learning to talk

“Using signs actually makes it easier for babies to learn to talk. Signing is to talking like crawling is to walking — a natural step in development.”

Dr. Linda Acredolo


Teaching your baby sign language, especially a few easy signs, can make all the difference and actually propel their language skills.

According to Dr. Linda Acredolo, co-author of “Baby Signs: How to Talk With Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk,” and founder of the Baby Signs Institute, babies have the mental capacity to communicate long before they can say words.

“With signs literally at their fingertips, babies are able to communicate what they need, what they see, what they remember and even how they feel,” Acredolo says.

She suggests the first signs to teach are “milk,” “more,” “all gone/done,” “eat” and “ball” because they are easy to do and apply to daily life.

Laura Berg, author of “The Baby Signing Bible: Baby Sign Language Made Easy,” adds “mom/dad,” the sign for the family pet and one for baby’s favorite toy to that list.

She recommends parents start to use and model sign language when their baby is between 4 and 9 months.

Easy on parents

In today’s smartphone society, access to sign language is literally in your hands. Berg created an ASL dictionary app for parents called My Smart Hands, which features quick videos to show the motions for the words, so parents quickly can learn on the go.

Acredolo and her co-founder Susan Goodwyn created the Baby Signs Program which features online classes and workshops to learn baby sign language.

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