24 Apr, 2024

Communicating with your Baby or Toddler

3 mins read

Why use signs with your baby?  

Research suggests that signing gives a child a way to communicate months before they can talk and that children can understand sign language long before they begin to use it.

This can help ease frustration between the ages of 8 months and 2 years. At this age, children begin to know what they want, need, and feel, but they don’t always have the verbal skills to communicate. Signing gives infants and young toddlers a way of communicating these thoughts and feelings to their caregivers.  

Getting Started  

  • Children can start signing intentionally between 8 and 11 months old
  • Start with 3-5 different signs and use them frequently. Each time you  use a sign, say the word as well. If you sign “eat”, say “eat” as you sign it 
  • Gradually add signs as your baby begins to sign 
  • Encourage all attempts to sign with praise and positive reinforcement 
  • It can take up to two months or more for your baby to start using signs on their own, but research suggests that babies understand sign language long before they start using it

Library Resources 


Sign Language in Storytime 

Sign Language Storytime 

  • Sign Language is a great way to communicate with very young children. In this storytime, we will listen to stories and get an introduction to sign language or increase your sign vocabulary. Sign Language Storytime is for children of all ages.  

Babes in Arms 

  • Babes in Arms is a lap-sit storytime that introduces the sounds and rhythms of language, develops motor skills and gives babies a head start on learning. Storytime is followed by a brief playtime with toys, bubbles and socialization for caregivers and babies. Babes in Arms is for pre-walkers who are not yet highly mobile; siblings are encouraged to bring a stuffed animal or doll. Babes in Arms is for ages 0-9 months. 

Rhyme Time 

  • Repetitive rhymes, songs and movement help introduce the sounds and rhythms of language, develop motor skills and give children a head start on learning. During Rhyme Time, we will enjoy simple books that explore familiar concepts, sounds and movements. Rhyme Time is for ages 0-24 months.  

Baby Sign Language Videos

See all eight videos on our YouTube playlist

Blog posts coming soon describing these signs in detail:

Hello & GoodbyeMom & Dad
Please & Thank YouBook & Again

Future Learning Extensions 

Signing also creates a non-verbal system for parents to use with their older kids. Are you and your child in a large group, and you want to remind your child to use their manners? Just sign a simple “please” or “thank you” as a reminder for your child without embarrassing them in front of the rest of the group. 

Interested in information about dual language speaking/reading with your baby? Check out our Dual Language Learners page to read about the benefits of young children learning a second language and library resources to help you along the way.

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