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The Parenting Hack You’ve Been Missing: Decode Your Baby’s Needs with Signs!

If you’ve ever had a conversation with a baby—which, let’s be honest, consists mainly of coos, giggles, and adorable babble—you’ve likely wondered what’s going on in that cute little head. What if I told you that you could unlock a level of communication with your infant that transcends baby talk? Enter the enchanting world of baby signs!

What Are Baby Signs?

Baby signs are simplified versions of sign language gestures used to help infants express their needs, thoughts, or feelings. They’re like emojis, but for real life! Imagine your 10-month-old telling you they’re thirsty without a single tear or your one-year-old showing excitement for bathtime—all without uttering a word. It sounds like a fairy tale but is very much grounded in science.

According to a study by Dr. Linda Acredolo and Dr. Susan Goodwyn, babies who used sign language had a higher IQ at eight years old than those who did not. So not only are you easing communication, but you’re setting the stage for lifelong learning!

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Advantages of Teaching Baby Signs

Builds Strong Bonds

One of the first and most immediate benefits is bonding when you and your baby understand each other better. It’s like your secret love language!

Encourages Speech Development

Contrary to popular myth, using baby signs does not delay speech. It encourages it. Babies who sign often start to verbalize more quickly because they already understand the concept of communication.

Reduces Frustration

Imagine knowing what your baby wants when they want it—no more guessing games or marathon crying sessions!

Boosts Confidence

Successfully expressing oneself is empowering at any age. For babies, that empowerment can translate into increased confidence and curiosity, critical ingredients for developmental growth.

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The 15 Must-Know Baby Signs: A Deep Dive

Suppose you’re as excited as we are about unlocking a new level of communication with your baby. In that case, you’ll love this next part. Here’s an extended guide on 15 indispensable baby signs and tips on how and when to introduce them.

1. Milk

  • How to Sign: Open and close your fist like you’re milking a cow.
  • When to Use: Mealtime, nursing, or when offering a bottle.
  • Parenting Hack: Combine it with the sign for ‘more’ when your baby wants a refill!

2. More

  • How to Sign: Tap your fingertips together.
  • When to Use: During feeding, playtime, or when your child wants more of anything.
  • Pro Tip: Pair it with ‘all done’ to create a tiny conversation loop during meals.

3. All Done

  • How to Sign: Flip both your hands outward, palms up.
  • When to Use: After meals, activities, or tasks.
  • Fun Twist: Use this sign while singing the “Clean Up Song” to make tidying up a game.

4. Eat/Food

  • How to Sign: Tap your fingertips to your mouth.
  • When to Use: Mealtime or snack time.
  • Cook’s Secret: Use this sign to introduce new foods; make it a grand unveiling!

5. Sleep

  • How to Sign: Extend your palm, then tilt it to your face as if laying it on a pillow.
  • When to Use: Bedtime or naptime.
  • Sleepy Time Ritual: Incorporate the sign into your bedtime story or lullaby routine.

6. Bath

  • How to Sign: Mime scrubbing your body.
  • When to Use: Before or during bathtime.
  • Splish Splash Tip: Use it along with rubber duckies to make bathtime irresistibly fun.

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7. Play

  • How to Sign: Mime pulls an invisible string with both hands.
  • When to Use: When it’s time for games or outdoor fun.
  • Smarty Pants Idea: Mix it with the signs for different toys—like ‘ball’—to specify the playtime agenda.

8. Ball

  • How to Sign: Form both hands round, like holding a ball.
  • When to Use: During playtime or sports activities.
  • Playdate Champion: Teach this sign to toddler friends to help them ask for a turn.

9. Mom

  • How to Sign: Open your hand and tap your thumb to your chin.
  • When to Use: Whenever mommy is the topic or point of attention.
  • Photo Op Moment: Capture the first time your baby signs ‘mom’—it’s a keeper!

10. Dad

  • How to Sign: Open your hand and tap your thumb to your forehead.
  • When to Use: When Daddy is around or being talked about.
  • Dad Joke: Use this sign every time a classic dad joke is cracked.

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11. Cat

  • How to Sign: Use your thumb and index finger to mimic whiskers in your mouth.
  • When to Use: When seeing or talking about a cat.
  • Pet Lover: Introduce your baby to the family pet using this sign.

12. Dog

  • How to Sign: Slap your thigh, then snap your fingers.
  • When to Use: When a dog is present or part of the story.
  • Zoo Day: Use this as a gateway sign to teach other animal signs like ‘bird’ or ‘fish.’

13. Please

  • How to Sign: Place your flat hand on your chest and move it circularly.
  • When to Use: To instill manners early on.
  • Character Building: Incorporate this sign with ‘thank you’ to teach the magic duo of politeness.

14. Thank You

  • How to Sign: Touch your fingers to your lips and extend them outward.
  • When to Use: After receiving something or as an act of appreciation.
  • Life Skill: It’s always early enough to cultivate gratitude. Use this sign generously.

15. Sorry

  • How to Sign: Move a fist circularly across your chest.
  • When to Use: After a mishap or to apologize.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Use this sign to introduce the idea of empathy and saying sorry when needed.

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How to Teach Baby Signs: A Comprehensive Guide

Ah, you’re ready to dive in! Teaching baby signs isn’t just a trend; it’s a life-enriching experience that deepens the bond between you and your child. Let’s explore how you can seamlessly incorporate it into your daily routine.

1. Start Simple

Begin with core signs: choose easy and essential signs like ‘milk,’ ‘more,’ or ‘all done.’ These are relevant to your baby’s immediate needs.

Pick moments when your baby is attentive but not distressed. A fussy baby won’t be as receptive to learning.

2. Make it a Habit

Consistency is key and repetition helps solidify learning. Use the sign every time you say the corresponding word.

Make sure anyone frequently taking care of the baby—like grandparents or babysitters—is familiar with the signs.

@mybaby.signs Say it with me: 👏sign language should not be ONLY used at meals. Sign language unlocks communication for your little one, allowing them to communicate their needs with you more clearly. 🔥This reduces their frustrations, and boosts the confidence for them and for yourself. 🙅‍♀️Don’t limit that just to meal time!🙅‍♀️ Yes, meal time can be frustrating, and sign language should definitely be used during meals! 👏But it shouldn’t be the only time. Signing with your little one throughout your daily routines and experiences further develops their language and communication skills. 🔥And as a result, decreases frustrations over the WHOLE DAY, not just while they’re in the highchair (or booster). #signlanguageforbabies #babysignlanguagetips #toddlersignlanguage ♬ Life's What You Make It - Graham Colton

3. Engage Eye Contact

Physically lower yourself to your baby’s eye level to ensure you have their attention.

Use toys or pictures to illustrate the word and sign you teach. For example, show a ball when teaching the sign for ‘ball.’

4. Say The Word

Pronounce the word clearly as you make the sign. This serves as a double reinforcement.

Use the word and sign in a sentence to provide context. “Do you want more milk?” while signing ‘more’ and ‘milk.’

5. Create a Positive Learning Environment

Clap, cheer, or even do a little ‘you did it!’ dance when your baby successfully makes a sign.

Use affirmative words. Saying things like “Good job!” while smiling reinforces learning.

6. Add Story Time

Use signs while reading bedtime stories. It’s an excellent way to incorporate new vocabulary and make reading interactive.

7. Daily Routines: The Best Teachers

Begin the day with signs like ‘morning,’ ‘brush,’ and ‘dress’, or use the opportunity to teach food-related signs like ‘eat,’ ‘apple,’ or ‘water.’

8. Play and Learn

Turn learning signs into a game. Show a warning and ask your baby to pick the corresponding object or hide an object and guide your child towards it using signs.

9. Add Some Rhythm

Make up simple songs incorporating the signs you’re teaching. Think of it as karaoke for tiny tots.

10. Reinforce Learning

 At the end of each week, review all the signs you’ve taught.

 Record videos of successful interactions. They’re not just memories but also handy review tools.


Embracing baby signs is like receiving a VIP pass into your baby’s world. And who wouldn’t want that? So go ahead, take a baby step into baby signs. Remember, every gesture is a word, and every word is a world of meaning for your little one.

Happy signing, super parents!

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