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Sign Language with Infants/toddlers

Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows of good books about how to do sign language with toddlers and/or at what age it is best to start teaching sign language. I've known some people who have tried this and it seemed to really help with the "terrible twos" but I don't really have any other information, any suggestions would be great!

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you don't need a book, just go to the American Sign Language website.. they show you all the signs you need. Beverly School for the Deaf has info too. Good luck, it helped us with my speech delayed kid ..

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start now if can... so your daughter can learn by receive the sign language and will express for commucation when she older.. she will sign then speak... :commucation with the family better.

i am deaf mom, my son is also deaf. i would choose the book careful. i will get back to you tonight with 1 book that i DONT LIKE because wrong sign... and it made us and people who learn sign from that look like fool.. that book is for baby/toddler. all other book or movie is wonderful esp that 1 book i dont like. i will let u know what the name of that book to AVIOD :o)

the respond below me, the show on PBS Is great too!

1 mom found this helpful


I am not deaf (and neither is anyone in my family), but I started signing with my now four year old son very young (about 3 months). He signed simple things like "more" and "milk" from a very young age. Now, that he a preschooler, we use it mostly to tell secrets across a room or I can tell him to "listen" to his teacher or "wait" his turn at swim lessons from across the ymca.

We used Baby Signs (book) and Signing Time (dvds). The Baby Signs book http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Signs-Revised-Linda-Acredolo/d...
is not true ASL because many the signs have been simplified for babies who do not have the fine motor coordination to fully sign ASL. Some people are more rigid with their signing, but I found it useful.

We also used Signing Time (and its related Baby Signing Time) dvds are true signs taught by a mother and her deaf daughter. They have written great songs (the mom is a singer/songwriter in her own right). They are a great way to learn with your child.

Whatever you decide, do not let any ever tell you that it will impair language development. The exact opposite is true. My son is one of the most verbal children you have ever seen and he signed, and still does. It has also helped him as he is learning to spell now. He is learning to finger spell words as he learns to spell words in letters (at just over four years old).

I think that children who learn to sign learn that the purpose of language is to communicate with others as opposed the those who only learn traditional oral language which often starts with learning to label items. Children are able to understand before they can produce language (that is a physiological fact), so signing provides a way to relay that understanding. Children are able to move their bodies/hands before they are able to make certain sounds. So, I think you may be right about lessening the tantrums, which are usually caused by children not communicating well with others.

Good Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

I wouldn't really recommend learning signs, even just "baby signs", from a book unless it's your only option. Most libraries have baby signing tapes or dvds at this point, or can get them for you from another library via interlibrary loan. Video is really helpful with any kind of signing because signing is 3-D. Also, if you want the signing to be something your baby could potentially build on (in order to learn a fun second language) make sure the signing method you choose is an ASL-based signing method, not an English-based signing method. They really are two totally different languages, with different syntax, etc.

I started signing late with my daughter, around 10 months. Start whenever you feel like it tho, now would be a good time! Build up those neural pathways, get her used to seeing the signs, and she'll make the connections when you least expect it. :) We used the kit "Sign with your Baby", http://www.sign2me.com/ . We also like the Saturday morning TV show called "Signing Time" on PBS, and we use a website with ASL videos to help us teach words on our own. :) My daughter is 6 yrs old now, and LOVES learning new signs. She did drop it for a while, but is back at it happily. The website for the ASL browser is: http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/browser.htm

Enjoy, it's a LOT of fun!!

Hi, yes!! We taught my son some sign language. He had almost no tantrums. Now, my 18 month daughter, has only learned a few signs. She has daily tantrums. Partly, it may be due to the differences between girls and boys, first and second born, or many other things. But, we think it's mostly the sign language.

I haven't found any books that I love. I would be interested to learn of any that other people tell you about. We have had great fun with the Signing Time videos. I borrow them through our library since they're pretty expensive. We've watched them with some friends of ours, and everyone loves them. Rachel, the signer and singer, created this series for her daughter, Leah, who was born deaf.

Even if you just teach signs for milk, more, cookie, cracker, book, "I love you", apple, juice and banana, you'll notice how well they can communicate at such a young age.

I hope this helps. Good luck. R.

baby einstine has a good video sign with me i have checked it out of the library twice and has helped me learn the signs making it easier for me to teach my son, it isnt every word but basic words for baby like eat drink, more, milk, story, sleep, blanket, mommy, daddy, baby stuff like that. It really has been fun to watch him catch on he can sign milk more and eat so far. Goood luck

Kelly, my nephew is 2 and has speech problems so the therapist has taught him how to use sign language instead of grunting and pointing. The library should have sign language books for toddlers. If not you can google the info online. There are websites that show the signs for words just can't remember them right now. I have an older friend who was born deaf and his daughters are both hearing but they learned sign language at a little earlier time then most children began to talk. hope this helps.

Sign With Your Baby by Dr. Joseph Garcia worked great for us.

Hi K.,

If you contact Irene Duke at Massasoit Community College (Brockton campus)she will be able to tell you about the best books you can get for infant/toddler sign language. She teaches sign language at the college and often does workshops for early childhood educators. The best time to start simple signs is when your child is 8 months old. Just keep doing the signs while saying the words for it and eventually your child picks up on these cues. It may be best to take a class/workshop where you can actually see how to do the signs. Sometimes the books do not always have a good representation of how to make the signs correctly. Good luck with your quest.

I'm not sure of the name, but I know there is a Sesame Street book on sign language. You could refer to the American Sign Language on the internet, and I'm sure you will find various books.

My daughter was born with Down Syndrome and was delayed in talking. They used some sign language with her in order to alleviate the frustrations of not being able to tell people what you want. She used a few signs, and then started talking.


I am a 32 year old mother of a 20 month old. We started doing sign language with her around 6 months (but she did not do her first sign back until about 12 or 13 months.. it feels discouraging at the time, but when they sign back, it makes it all worth it!!).. The books suggest starting with two signs you want them to learn and one sign they will want to learn (we started with milk, food/eat and fish because she loved our fish tank.. her first sign back was fish).. I found this book helpful in the beginning http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Language-Basics-House-Lifestyl...
and I love this website http://www.aslpro.com/cgi-bin/aslpro/aslpro.cgi
My daughter is now talking, but she is also signing all of the time. It really helps with the first words too... It is sometimes hard to figure out what she is saying, but if she couples that with the sign, it makes it much easier. I find that it cuts down a lot of frustration!!! We still have our temper tantrums, but there is a lot less frustration and I think we would have more if it was not for the signing.

Good luck!!


There are many wonderful books out there and classes you can take. I'm not sure where you live but there is a class called Signing Safari that you can take with your child starting at 6 months of age. It's offered at Natural Loving Embrace. http://www.naturallovingembrace.com/ It's fun for both mommy or daddy and child. The people that hold the classes are wonderful. Hope this helped.

Hi. There is a series of DVD's called "Signing Time" that are excellent. I don't know of a kid that doesn't love the videos and they are so easy to learn from. Of course at 3 months I'm not sure your daughter would be so interested. But they're fun and easy for you to watch. The earlier you start the better off, just like most things. I've read that by 6 months they definately start recognizing signs shortly there after you'll notice her using them. Have fun!

Hi K.,

I am an interpreter and work with deaf regularly. I asked them how and when they began teaching their babies sign, and I copied their model. Here's what I did with my first son. I started signing and saying "milk" with my son every time he nursed (or took a bottle). When he switched sides (or stopped half-way through the bottle to burp and then the rest of the bottle), I would sign "more." Then when he was done, I would sign and say "All done" (finish in ASL). I started doing that when he was about 2-3 months (I would have done it sooner but never thought about it at those times b/c everything was so new to me). When he was 9 1/2 months old he, without any prompting by me, asked for more when he was in a highchair at a restaurant with us. I couldn't believe it and asked him to do it again to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Sure enough, at 9 months he was able to tell me what he wanted without any trouble. From that point on learning new signs for him took only about a week for each one, if I used it consistently. Now with my second son, I started the milk, more and all done as soon as he was born, and at 13 weeks he began to show that he recognized the sign for "milk." Obviously at that age, he isn't going to sign it back, but I was surprised at how early he was able to recognize and show me a "yes" with his eyes and face. Now at 16 weeks, we just keep doing the same thing, but I am VERY confident that he knows what that sign means, with and without voice. I'm curious to see if he begins to use the signs even younger than my first did.

Anyway, I dont' think you need some special book for kids to sign. Just get a book with ASL signs, learn a few yourself and use them all the time with your baby... then add a few more when you are comfortable doing the first group of signs.

When my son was toddling around and trying to communicate with me it was WONDERFUL that he knew the sign and didn't have to keep crying while I was guessing what he was asking for. With the sign he could sit in his chair and say, "More cheese please" with his hands and no whining necessary!!

GOod luck!! Be happy to help with book suggestions if you need it. Email me if you do!

Take care!

Go to www.signingtime.com - the best signing videos - my son and niece know so many signs!

Hi K.,
I used Sign with your Baby http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932354018/booksto...
and we didn't really use that many signs from the book/video. The ones we used all the time were "more", "all done" "milk" & "water". That seemed enough to get us communicating and start talking. Be sure to talk while you sign, even deaf people vocalize when they sign.
Good Luck,
D. C.

I just started with teaching my little ones signs ( he's 8 months) The book that I'm using is "Sign With Your Baby" by Joseph Garcia. It seems like a good book. This really does work, my sister did signing with her daughter and she was able to tell us what she wanted( water, eat, milk) before she could speak.

My sister is an interpreter for the deaf. I learned sign language as a teenager so we could have private converstaions in public. She taught her daughter how to sign by just using it all the time from birth. You can teach the signs, but you need to use them too & use them consistently, if you want it to ease the terrible twos & not just be a novelty. It is eases that time because it helps to communicate the child's wants. So you will find that children that have been taught signs that express immediate desires are more successful (i.e., thirsty, hungry, cookie, angry, ...) than those that teach lots of adjectives or words that would not be part of a toddlers regular lexicon, like turtle, purple, or summer. You may want to check your local parks & rec. for baby & mom sign classes or even just an adult signing class that you can teach your child.
Finally, lots of moms have already mentioned Signing Time - it is really great! It is also aired on PBS, so you may be able to record it for future use, but it is aimed at a slightly older crowd than an infant.
Good luck.

I used the Sign With Your Baby, too and liked it. Not all the signs are ASL, though. I know some ASL and used kind of a combination with my kids. I guess it depends what you want out of the experience. I just wanted to reduce the frustration of a pre-verbal baby, and to increase language readiness. Our system worked great for that, but now that my kids are older, they are not ASL users. If you want a child to be a life-long signer, it would be better to use an ASL-based curricula.

By the way, we LOVED signing with out babies. It was wonderful to communicate with them this way.

Also, I have a friend in CA who teaches classes in baby signing. I think her business is a franchise with locations across the US. If you are interested enough, send me a message and I'll ask her for more info.

Enjoy signing with your little one!

You've gotten a bunch of great resources. Here's another link: http://signsandsmiles.com/. The Richie McFarland Children's Center in Stratham, NH also offers classes. There may be similar offerings in your area. I think some Kindermusik providers offer a Sing and Sing class. There are online "dictionaries" available if you want to look up specific words as well.
Good luck,

I'm writing to second what Shannon M wrote. Baby Signs - even though many of the signs are not true ASL the signs are designed for baby's hands and are much easier to teach to a little one. Signing Time! Signing Time! Although for children just a bit older I really love this series. Designed with music and films of children doing the sign over and over it is a wonderful way for young children to learn ASL.

I started signing to my son at 10 months. At that time I just thought it would be a wonderful way for him to communicate with us until his vocal cords and other communicators matured. Boy, was that a lucky decision. It turned out that my son has verbal apraxia and it took him a long time to be able to be understood by others. My son is a true testament to the fact that when the child is ABLE to speak and be UNDERSTOOD, the sign is dropped. Although now at almost 7 he still uses some signs when we are across a room OR he wants to say something a bit private to me ;)

Good luck and have a wonderful time with it! You are giving your child an amazing gift - to be able to communicate before they are verbal!

I have been signing with my daughter since she was born. I am fluent because of my profession and wanted to share the culture (as best as I could) with my children. Everyone has mention Signing Time! But make sure you use Baby Signing Time because the signs are more appopriate for babies and toddlers. Plus, the BST! has great features as a bonus. You can turn off the songs and just practice the signs.

Also, save some money and have a playgroup. It seems like lots of moms have responded so maybe we can all get together every once in a while(?) I used to teach preschool early intervention and led several groups and signed the entire time.

Great to hear you are signing!

Good morning, K.

try to click on www.dawnsign.com. I think I spell it right. They have many good resources and books with sign languages for infants/toddlers. I need to check if I spelled it wrong, I will be back with you with a right name. It will benefit to many infants. My daughter is not deaf, she learned excellent. I tend to highly recommend all parents to have a sign language book. My daughter is 21. She is so bright. I am sure your child will be . Smile...

Hello K.,

I started teaching my 2 1/2 year old ASL when he was only months old. Knowing only a little myself, I found Signing Time. They have DVDs, books, and lots of helpful tip, on their webpage. http://www.signingtime.com/ I found them to be a great resource, and they even have stuff geared for babies. Today I found out that they have a webpage for the kids to interact on. I know that you're little girl is too young for that now, but check it out for later. My little guy is already quite a wonder on the computer, so when I'm done here, I'm going to get him set up for some Signing Time Kids.
Best of luck with your "little treasure" and try not to dread going back to work. ;-)

Hi K., Congratulations on your little girl. I teach sign language to babies/toddlers/parents. You can start teaching them as young as 5 months old. I use the Signing Smart materials. I have a book that I use with my parent workshop but you can buy it seperate. It is called Signing Smart with babies and Toddlers. A Parent's strategy and Activity guide. I love the strategies that they use and I have seen them proven to be effective. Signing has been proven to be effective with helping kids develop their speech and to learn things quicker. let me know if you need to know anything else. I would love to answer any questions you have.

Hey K., we did sign with our little guy from the time he could see us. By the time he was 11mos he was doing about 25 signs all the time... more, drink, eat, apple, kitty, baby...my all time favorite, pretty mommy...and so many more. It really helped bridge the gap between the time he could vocalize his wants and knew what he wanted and wouldn't have been able to tell us. He still at almost 3 will finish a meal with an enthusiastic "all done" to make sure we got the point. For the most part as he learned to say the words the sign just slipped away. In my humble mommy opinion it is a fantastic tool for both of you. As for a book, I am unsure, Babies R Us does a saturday workshop for sign and infants though. GL

Hi K.,
I do sign a little with my daughter, and it makes our lives soo much easier. I don't feel like I need to teach her everything, but she knows how to tell me basic things like eat, drink, more, mommy, daddy, all done etc. This has been great, because instead of crying at me she can tell me most times what it is that she wants, and I think that's great. We just casually used the signs while we talked to her and when she was doing the thing we were trying to teach her. We just went online and googled 'sign for ____', whatever we were looking for. Our daughter actually has kind of made the signs her own, but since I don't plan on always using the signs I feel like she doesn't have to do them perfectly like the picture as long as we get it. She's even made up her own signs for her grandparents, totally unprovoked. We started when she was 8 months or so and it wirked really well but I hear that you can start earlier. Good luck and have fun with this!

Hello K.,
we did it with our daughter when she was 9 months, that's when we realized that we had communication problems and it really helps her to tell us what she wanted. It may have helped her speak to, she is 21 months old and talks very well. I highly recommend it no matter what your reasons may be. Go to your hospital or local ressources for classes for toddlers. Search on line to see who offers what.

I work in early intervention and seems professionals in the field really like "Sign with Your Baby". Also if you are near Beverly School for the Deaf, they have GREAT baby sign classes for parents and babies to do together. I think sign is great for everyone!

I think the cheapest book you can find is enough. You just need a few pointers because once the baby figures out that s/he can use hands to communicate, s/he will invent them! My daughter did her first sign at 9 months old when she saw a fan (twisting her hand). She now does "fan" as well as "fans" (both hands), "light", "all done", "more", "eat", "doggie", "fish" and several others, all before she has turned 1. The fact is, they have a lot to say before they know how to talk, and it gives them a great way to do it so they don't get frustrated. Good luck!

Hi K.,
We used the book Sign With Your Baby by Dr. Joseph Garcia. We started when my son was 7 months old but you can start even earlier. It worked great and relieved a lot of communication issues because we could understand what our son wanted/needed. It's pretty neat when your 7 month old can communicate with you. Good luck!


Baby sign is one of the best series, it's books and DVD's you can watch with your kiddo too. I work in Special Ed and alot of us taught our kids sign language very young, it works great to ease frustration, I highly recommend it.

Hi K.,
I did this with my daughter and I started really early just so I could develop the habit, which is the hardest part I think. I can't remember the name of the book I used but it doesn't really matter as most of the signs you'll make up because they'll be specific to your life and the basic ones will be in any book. The most important thing is consistency and getting your partner on board (that may be the hardest-I had to remind my husband a lot). Otherwise, it's not rockey science. It was great and definitely helped. They say it aids in developing verbal skills and we're not a scientific experiment with only one child, but she did develop her language earlier and was easy to understand. Maybe it was a coincidence. I'll never know but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Good luck!


Hi K. - I have two sons ages 20 months and 6 months. Neither have any hearing or language problems (that I'm aware of) but I decided to do sign language when I saw it successfully in action with a friend's child. I started with my first child around 2 months of age. I made up a nonsense song of sounds and words and incorporated the signs into that (ooo, aaa, goo, gaa, ma ma, da da, nana, papa - and I did the signs for mother, father, grandmother and grandfather). This seems to solidify for him the hand movements had a relationship to the words. We've used a video called Talking Hands, but I think any video using American Sign Language (ASL) would work as long as it's geared toward kids. (I say ASL because if the child continues to use it, it will be recognized by others - as opposed to making up your own signs for things which may confuse other people.) He loves watching the video and before he could say words like please, thank you, eat, drink, the signs were a huge help. Now that he speaks very well, the signs are a good fall back for the times he's upset and has a hard time "using his words". Some people think signing may delay speaking, but I disagree. If you stress using words as well as the signs it seems to all work out in the end. My son still prefers to sign "more" than say the word, but that is the only one (and is natural for his age). I also think signing helps me as a parent. I can get a point across to him when he's upset (meaning I don't have to yell to be heard) or he's watching me out the window. My husband and I also get a kick out of being able to communicate without waking the kids or disturbing others in a quiet setting. I think any book or video would work as long as you're involved. I think it's a great head start on formal education as well. Sorry for the long response. Hope it's informative.

you don't need a book, just go to the American Sign Language website.. they show you all the signs you need. Beverly School for the Deaf has info too. Good luck, it helped us with my speech delayed kid ..


Signing is the greatest thing to do with your kid!!! I used Signing Time, a video series. I LOVE it. I watched them first to learn the signs and started signing with my son from day one. I would sign each word as I said it and made sure I did it all the time. The key is consistency. You will not see the payoff for a while, but I guarantee if you stick with it, your daughter will catch on. My son started watching the videos when he was around nine months. He would only pay attention for a few minutes at a time, but they helped reinforce what we were already doing. As he got older he started watching them more and now he loves them - they are the only TV he watches - and he listens to the music in the car.

Many people don't start signing until 6/8 months, but I didn't see any reason to wait. Most kids start signing back between 10/12 months. My son started at 8, so I don't don't know if that is because we started so early or if he would have gotten it early anyway.

There are lots of books on Amazon and there is a great web site - aslpro.com that can teach you signs. Like I said, all you need to do is sign it when you say it and stick with it.

My son is now two and is extremely verbal. The signs have started to take a back seat, but at his peak he was consistently using several hundred signs. It's amazing when a baby who can't speak yet can tell you what they want!!

I could go on and on, but I have to go to work. :O)

R. F.

Hi K.! I actually used to teach sign language to kids, and I believe BeBop Baby Shop in Essex offers classes in this area. Anyway, I say start NOW and like previous posts have suggested, go for the "real" ASL signs (no baby signs!) so that it could actually manifest into a useful skill later in your child's life. Start with 6-10 USEFUL signs, like "more", "eat", "mama", "daddy", etc, and be PATIENT -- it may take a few months for your child to sign back. Once she starts signing back (and it will be LOOSE approximations of signs, just like "baaaaa" is an approximation of "ball" when spoken) add 2-3 more per week. Before you know it, you'll have a 9 month old who has 50 signs. I think my daughter (now 4) had over 200 by the time she was 18 months. It was awesome!! Good luck, and let me know if you have more questions!


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