How To Teach Baby Sign Language – Ten Key Signs On Communicating With Toddlers.


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Teaching Toddlers Sign Language Raises The Communication Process.


Education is ‘key’ when learning to teach baby sign

Maybe you’re reading a book just to educate yourself on how the ear works. Or you may want to show your youngster a new educational toy, show fun pictures or work on a new word.

Even if it’s just something as simple as changing a diaper or feeding a child, you’re doing invaluable work. But in regards to disabled children with hearing issues, you have to be some type of ‘special person.’ In fact, quite a smart move! In regards to the importance of caring and the teaching task you perform each day, there is no hierarchy.

In the beginning, start simply with activities and words you already frequently use.


When you spend time communicating, it’s a very rewarding experience for both the child. Signing validates the work of early childhood educators because it accentuates the importance of your interactions with children.

how-to-teach-baby-sign-language-signing more meals

MORE/MEALS – Bring your hands together and gently tap your fingers together repeatedly.

Once you’ve come to the realization regarding your child’s issues, you must then resort to learning the necessary signing techniques to communicate.

There are benefits to parents in regards to babies communicating early. It bridges the gap between comprehension (understanding language) and expression (speaking).

Toddlers who sign experience less frustration. When a child has a way to express her needs and wants, there is less opportunity for frustration to set in.

Young children soon discover that signing is more satisfying an productive than crying or grunting and pointing. Showing and interacting with them through a list of children’s books featuring deaf characters, will help the communication process go smoothly.

Think of this: You’re feeding your baby and he or she looks at you with their mouth open.

He or she in indicating wanting more. You say; “Oh, you want more?” while mimicking more.

If your child isn’t looking at you, but is looking at the baby food jar or box of mini crackers, what you can do is make the ‘more‘ sign right in front of the food and say “more.”

He or she may eat them quickly and reach for the box to indicate she wants more. To practice communicating ‘more’, give the baby just a couple of bites of food at a time, then you’ll have the chance to repeat the ‘more’ sign over and over.

The daily care you give your child during meals, diapering, and dressing is the best place to start using this special language. It is in these care giving rituals that relationships and trust form. Constant communication is ‘key’ for parents of hearing impaired toddlers.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing meal times

MEAL-TIME  – Tap your fingertips to lips as if eating.


Children who communicate this way develop larger vocabularies in the early stages of language acquisition.

Research proves that by age two, these children have 50 more words than those who don’t use the other form of communication.

Communication through these skills is ‘key’ to a child’s expansion and understanding.

Youngter’s who learn can also experience a close bond with their caregivers. The real reason to encourage this is to support relationships through successful communication.

ALL DONE/FINISH  – Move open hands outward as if 

finished with something or pushing something away.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing all done/finished

Now that you are communicating ‘more’ and ‘all done’ throughout the day, begin adding other ones within your daily routine.

Using these skills throughout the day is great because they are meaningful to the children.

The repetition also provides practice. Young kids need to see and hear you mimic over and over before they will produce it.

Children thrive when they have an environment that provides predictability.

Using these special skills within your daily routine adds another level of predictability for kids, thus fostering their feelings of security and safety while they are in your care.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing all done/finished

Although some toddlers will be able to rotate their wrists to  imitate ‘all done,’ here are some  common ways children sign ‘all done:’

  • Flapping their hands in front of  them
  • Pushing their hands toward you
  • Opening and closing their hands several times
  • Swing their hands from side to side

Young Kids Seems To Understand A Few Words.

He or she lets us know through their eye contact and body language that they understand words. For example; when a child looks up to you with a special awareness, anticipation, and intelligence, you can see they knows what you are talking about.

Say another person’s name, they looks to that person. When you mention that it is time to go outside, the child looks towards the door.

When little children have these symbols in their heads, but they do not have the oral motor skills to produce the words, it’s the perfect time to begin teaching baby sign language and using all skills you’ve learned.

It not only gives them visual symbols for the words (as they watch you repeat the word and mimic together), it will soon give them the ability to communicate with their hands. MOST BABIES POINT

Some toddlers start pointing at objects as early as eight months. Most master pointing and do so in a deliberate  and determined way by 12 – 14 months. 

Pointing is an amazing early accomplishment that is easy to take for granted because it is such a natural part of our daily communication system.

Over time, as you understand how complex the act of pointing is, you can see how closely it is related to communication and language.

The most important thing to remember is that language develops through interaction.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing more

MORE  – Baby pointing to hand to communicate ‘more’.


Pointing is symbolic. In doing so, the child makes an imaginary line, connecting the object in the distance to the end of his or her finger.

The child also trust those with whom they hope to communicate can do the same.

‘More’ is usually the first one the child produce. They get a lot of reinforcement when they communicate ‘more’ and get ‘more’ of what they desire. Often, they will generalize this sign once they’ve found it to be successful.

They will mimic ‘more’ for everything;’ every time they want to communicate.’

This is similar to generalizations that toddlers make when they’re learning to talk. For example, a child will learn the word ‘dog’ and will call all animals ‘dog’. After practicing the new word or sign, they will begin to differentiate.

Generalization is a normal process in language development.

It is good to communicate eat and drink often, particularly at meal and snack time.

Remember And Understand That Babies Aren’t The Same. Most Have Different Comprehension Levels.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing drink

DRINK  – Cup a hand at your mouth and tip your head up as if drinking from a cup.


With drinks, parents should consider mimicking drink to represent all drinks, or use specific signs, such as bottle, juice, milk, and water.

When your child start mimicking this back to you, you should follow up with; ” Want more to drink?” Repeat saying this a few times just to to make sure this is what he or she wants from you.

WATER  – Put a ‘W’ to your lips.


Water is a sign that up often, not only in terms of drinking, but because many children love playing in water during baths and water play.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing waterA child will typically modify ‘water’ by putting one finger to their lips.

Always remember in regards to beginning actions, that before a they can speak, he or she can communicate their needs by gesturing, gazing with their eyes, using facial expressions, him or her kicking their feet and waving their arms when their happy.

Sometime they may even throw things or push things away when they’re mad or upset. Two basic needs babies will communicate first are ‘more’ (“I like that,” “I want more of that,” “That makes me happy.”) and the other ‘all done’ or ‘finished’ (“No thanks,” “I’m done with that,” “Stop,” “I don’t like it,” “Take it away.”)

Learn these two and use them consistently throughout the day. These two things will satisfy more needs when communicating with preverbal babies.

PAIN  – Touch your fingertips together quickly on your forehead to sign headache.


Pain, hurt or ouch are directional signs. So if your ear hurts, you should communicate ‘hurt’ near your ear. If your knee hurts, communicate sign ‘hurt’ near your knee.

How-To-Teach-Baby-Sign-Language-signing pain

Keep in mind that most children will not mimic this until they are 12 months old.

But it’ll be good practice for you to start teaching this skill early. In reality, you can work with a young child at any age.

This action from the child can be an invaluable tool one day, when a baby has an earache and can actually tell you she is in pain.

BED  – Rest your head on your hand.


When he or she sees this action mimicked, they will know playtime has ended. All toys put away for the day, pj’s on and now it’s time for bed time.

If it’s during the afternoon, he or she will know it’s nap time.

how-to-teach-baby-sign-language-signing bedYou may have to repeat this one a couple of times for you may fight a little defiance from your child.  But they’ll soon recognize that it’s time for bed.


how-to-teach-baby-sign-language-signing please

Just out of the mere fact of having good manners as they age, they’ll now be more appreciative before asking!

PLEASERight hand swung out from across chest

A Families Interest Regarding Signing


A couple in my old neighborhood had two children; one was totally deaf and the other slightly hearing impaired. Testing at a well known ENT clinic, which also houses an audiologist office confirmed the children’s hearing status. At ages 10 months and two years old respectively, the parents realized a rough road ahead raising a hearing impaired child.

The couple’s only recourse was to gain knowledge into the world of sign language. To their amazement, they discovered the perfect tool that helped them gain the knowledge they needed to work with their children.


Check out these amazing tools designed to teach & promote quality, effective, integrated learning. Go to:

Self-esteem Elevation For Children Coaching Certification

Special Kids Learning Series CD:-Lets Go To

Toddler Talk: Techniques & Games – Proven Language Therapy Techniques

Creating Inclusive Learning Environment For Young Children: What To Do Monday Morning, 1st Edition

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Author:Ronald Kennedy

Ron attended the Art institute of Chicago in 1980 and Harold Washington College in 1997. He graduated from Malcolm X College in May, 2000 majoring in 'Hearing Loss in America' and 'Children with Hearing Disabilities Around the World' (Ron has another interesting website, regarding Love, Dating & Relationship). A Graduate of Malcolm X College in 2000 with an associate's degree in applied science, Ron also worked with the 'Chicago Area Autopsy Service' which is affiliated with the Medical Examiners Office, near downtown Chicago. The service covered all the local and suburban hospitals when reports of a death is called in.

101 responses to “How To Teach Baby Sign Language – Ten Key Signs On Communicating With Toddlers.”

  • William January 24, 2017 at 3:19 am Reply 

    This is so helpful to me. I have a deaf family member. That can only be communicated. With through sign language. I just get a little confused when I see certain signs and can’t really describe them or make out what they mean. But this site will be my study guide from now on. It’s clear and easy to follow. I want to thank you.

    • Ronald Kennedy January 24, 2017 at 4:20 am Reply 

      Thank you for dropping by William. I’m happy you were able to get something out of my site. I hope your family member is getting all the treatment he or she needs. You didn’t state any age, but I assume it’s a toddler. I’ve always said that babies are smarter than we think. They can pickup on the signs easily. It’s also important, like you said, for the adults to educate themselves on sign language for better communication.

      So that’s why William, I strongly suggest this for your study guide. There is more to display and shows you step by step how to learn sign. Easy to follow: (also please give me a ‘like’ by clicking my Facebook button.)

  • Jonelle S January 26, 2017 at 1:20 am Reply 

    I absolutely love this. I have 4 children, and I started doing this with my second child. I kind of did it with my first, but that was more instinctive than anything else. Once I started seeing more about this I amped it up.
    Having simple cues for words and actions made things so much easier.

    • Ronald Kennedy January 26, 2017 at 3:27 am Reply 

      Hi Jonelle, Thanks for commenting. I know it gave you a charged up feeling, working with your child and teaching sign. I’ve always said before it would be a good idea for parents to educate themselves learning sign, then teaching it to their children. As kids go through society, the communication between other children with hearing disabilities, will be more understood and easier to coup now that they know sign. Jonelle, If you need more guidance, here’s a great & easy learning tool for you to use with your children:

      Please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns. Thanks

  • Rich January 28, 2017 at 2:07 pm Reply 

    I really love this information. Wish I knew these things with my own kids way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, however now that I have grandchildren it will come in handy, they grow so fast.

    Looks like you covered all the basis including potty training are their any other signs we could use for this?

    • Ronald Kennedy January 28, 2017 at 7:34 pm Reply 

      Thanks Rich for checking in. Glad you enjoyed the information provided. I heard from others on how they wish they had updated and current info on this issue. They feel being educated early on, would’ve help them understand this hearing problem among children. There are plenty of other signs I didn’t cover on my site, including additional info regarding potty training. But you can gather much more detailed information here: Recommended

      Thank you Rich for commenting. Please share my page on FB & google + Let me know if I can help you with anything else.

  • Erin January 29, 2017 at 8:32 am Reply 

    I really enjoyed your website, very informative. I have in the past had friends who were deaf, and from them I learned to sign, a little. I also learned a lot about you on your Things About Ron page, you are a very talented artist, I really like that painting. Your images throughout the website are great. I would like to point out a small typo in one of your titles, on your page Signs of Going Deaf I’m sure it’s suppose to be Failing to Admit, not Falling. I was an English major, typos jump out at me when reading. You’ve got a great website! Best of luck to you.

    • Ronald Kennedy January 30, 2017 at 2:36 am Reply 

      Thank you Erin for commenting. Right off the bat, I want to thank you for pointing out my typo. (that’s what happens when you type into the wee hours of the morning working with blood-shot eyeballs).lol. Glad you enjoyed my personal page. I love art and have been painting for many years. If you feel my site can help educate others, please pass this along. Also, please share this info through your Facebook site.

  • Kerron February 2, 2017 at 8:09 pm Reply 

    Very thorough article from start to finish. In a situation where a baby is deaf and throwing a tantrum and probably isn’t looking towards you to pick up on the signs that you’re giving them or they just aren’t giving any signs in that moment, do you wait for them to calm down or do you try to figure out what’s wrong?

    • Ronald Kennedy February 2, 2017 at 8:48 pm Reply 

      Thank you Kerron for commenting. Glad you enjoyed my article. Babies are smarter than we think. They can absorb much more information than one realize. To answer your question, you first try to console the child, calming them down to a point, where you’re facing them. Now you’re ready to communicate through sign to find out just what the problem is. They would pick up on the signs quickly, and respond back to you what’s wrong. That’s why I’ve said before that ‘education is Key.’

      If you or someone you know, needs help with communicating to your baby through sign, then this is for you: <

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