From Our Blog: Baby Sign Language: 11 Signs to Try at Home

baby using Sign Language in a Bright Horizons infant classroom

Babies start thinking before they develop language, so they can become frustrated when they’re unable to tell you what they want.

How can you bridge the communication gap?

Many parents are turning to signing, which allows children to communicate before they have a grasp on verbal language. Children as young as seven months can get in the groove, but there’s no harm in starting earlier.

If you’re interested in signing with your baby, here are some basic baby signs to get you started.

11 Baby Signs & How to Do Them

1. Daddy

Extend and spread out your five fingers on your strong hand, as if to form a turkey. Tap your thumb on your forehead. Tip: Male signs are always above the nose, and female signs are below the nose. So the sign for daddy is the same as the sign for mommy, just a little higher.  

2. Mommy

Similar to the sign for “daddy,” extend and spread your fingers apart. With your pinkie facing forward, tap your thumb on your chin.  

3. Diaper

Take your hands and place them down around your waist. Take your index fingers and middle finger together from each hand and tap them on your thumbs. It will look like you are playing mini castanets at waist-height.  

4. Drink

Make your hand into a c-shape as if holding a cup. Take your hand up to your mouth as if drinking from the cup.  

5. Eat

Take your strong hand, and with the tip of your thumb touching the tips of your fingers, tap it on your mouth.  

6. Finished

This sign looks like you are pushing something away with your pinkies. Start by opening up both of your hands with your palms facing you. Then, flick your hands around so that you end with your palms facing out.  

7. No

Take your index finger together with your middle finger and tap them together with your thumb. The sign should look like a mouth saying “no.”  

8. More

Flatten out your hands then bring your thumbs under to make an O shape. Then, bring your hands together and separate them repeatedly.  

9. Sleep

Start with your fingers extended and spread them apart. Beginning with your hand over your face, move your fingers down to end with your hand below your chin and your fingers touching your thumb. As you make the sign, relax your face and allow your eyes to get droopy to add to the sleepy effect.  

10. Up

Take your index finger and aim it skyward. Raise and lower your arm so it is like you are pointing up at the sky.  

11. Yes

Take your hand and make it into a fist, holding it at about shoulder height. Make your fist bob back and forth, as if to mimic a head nodding “yes.”

Signs will likely begin to fade out around the time verbal language takes over. Until then, signing with your babies will allow them to have two-way conversations before they're able to speak.

Happy talking!

Bright Horizons
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
baby using Sign Language in a Bright Horizons infant classroom