Frequently Asked Questions

Lauren signs eat

Lauren signs eat

What age is a good age to start signing with my baby?

Actually any age is a good one, though most parents won’t begin to see results until their baby is 7 months or older. Many deaf parents sign to their babies from birth and some parents don’t find out about the wonders of signing with their babies are 12 months or older.

Is it too late to sign with my baby?

As long as your child is pre-verbal – that is, doesn’t have a large spoken vocabulary – she will definitely benefit from communicating with sign language to get her needs across. Even children who are speaking love learning sign language so it truly is never too late to start.

Well, my child is talking now and never really picked up signing. Should I bother to continue?

Most definitely! First, though – watch closely as you interact with your child on a daily basis. He or she could be signing to you and you may not recognize it! Babies will often improvise signs simply because they do not have the manual ability to form the signs exactly the way they “should” be signing it, so keep a close eye out for less obvious signs.

Even if your child isn’t making signs at this point, it never hurts to continue. When children begin to speak they still have many words to learn so signing can help bridge that gap while it is still there. There are also a multitude of reasons for learning ASL which you may want to consider – such as learning about and interacting with the deaf community and improving communication and language skills.

Is this site a sign language dictionary?

Nope! If you are looking for ASL signs, check out this oldie but goodie. Signing With Your Baby is meant to help you with your signing experience – to inspire you, to motivate you, to get you started signing with your child, and to astound you with amazing pictures of real signing babies.

Should I use ASL (American Sign Language) or should I make up my own baby signs?

This is a matter of personal preference. In the beginning of sign language for babies, there were two separate schools of thought – one, led by researchers Acredolo and Goodwyn, advocated creating your own signs and this is what the original verions of Baby Signs was built upon. The other was led by Garcia and was almost 100% strictly ASL, and this became SIGN with your BABY.

The newest version of Baby Signs now reflects mostly ASL signs with some allowance for creation, depending on the ability of your baby to form some specific and more complicated signs. Baby Signs has always been about simply building a bridge of communication for you and your pre-verbal infant regardless of the signs used (ASL and/or created ones), where SIGN with your BABY has encouraged consistency with ASL.

No way is more “right” than the other. Just choose the one which feels better for you.

I’ve decided to use ASL. Do I have to take classes and learn the whole language?

Not at all. Most parents learn it right along with their baby. With my trusty book in my hand and a website to consult I had no problem at all … well, except when Corbin developed a fascination for Teletubbies, then I had to improvise.

If you do choose to use ASL, remember that there can be regional differences in the signs, even in the same country. And each country has its own sign language, just as many have their own spoken language. BSL (British Sign Language) is quite a bit different from ASL, so don’t expect to visit London and have a conversation with a local deaf person!

What sign(s) should I start with?

I believe that most parents begin with milk, which is signed when a baby is nursing or getting a bottle. Other popular beginning signs are more, eat, drink, Mommy, Daddy, favorite finger food (like bread or crackers), pets (like dog, cat, fish, etc.), baby, book, bath … watch your child and note what he or she is interested in the most and go from there. The possibilites are endless – literally!

How do I get started anyway?

I’ve outlined the simple steps you need to take right here. It’s really easy.

What is the sign for such-and-such?

You are either going to have to consult a sign language dictionary, get to know a deaf friend, or visit this awesome website.

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