First Signs

First Signs Baby Signing FAQ's

Email Jackie with your Questions!


When can I start Signing with my Baby?

It is encouraged that parents talk with their babies from birth, and there is no reason that signing together with talking cannot start immediately, as well.  Parents can easily make signing a fun part of their baby’s day and children will understand the meaning behind your words and signs months long before they are able to sign back to you. 

From about 8 months of age, babies have the ability to use their hands to gesture intentionally and will start to mimic your hand movements and sign back to you.  From then on, your baby will start to build a signing vocabulary and communicate with you their thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, observations, and desires!  Rather than having to wait another 10-12 months to begin speaking, Baby Signs presents baby with the opportunity to communicate clearly and effectively with you now!


When will my Baby start Signing back to me?

From between the age of 7-9 months on average, Baby will develop the ability to manipulate his/her fingers and hands in a meaningful, intentional way.  If you have started to sign with your Baby prior to this period, Baby will usually attempt to sign back in this timeframe.  Note: All Babies are unique!

If you have started to sign with Baby after 9 months old, it will still take Baby a few weeks to a few months to respond and attempt to sign to you, as they have to be given time to learn that what you are gesturing has the same meaning as what you are saying!

When does First Signs run courses?

Please see the dates on the booking form for exact course dates.


Can I bring my older children to class?

Older siblings are welcome to come to class with you during school holidays, provided that they either participate in the session or that they sit quietly doing something else, like drawing or reading. The sessions can be great fun for older kids who like singing songs and adding fun hand actions! 


What can I expect from First Signs Classes?

You can expect lots on fun interaction with your child including singing, rhyming, storytime, and a visit from Beebo Bear!  You will also meet other parents and babies of different ages, make some new friends... and you are guaranteed to leave humming a few catchy tunes!


Does First Signs base their Baby Signs on British Sign Language?

First Signs courses teach Baby Sign Language, a simplified signing system, which is not a formalized language like British Sign Language. Each sign taught is evaluated for ease of use by parents and babies.  American and British Sign Language systems are referenced, as well as "Baby Signs" which are hand signals selected for their pictoral representation of what they are depicting. 


How does Signing help Baby's speech and language development?

Please see information on the Benefits of Baby Sign page.


My Baby is starting to talk.  Is Signing still helpful?  Am I too late?

You are not too late to start signing simply because your child is starting to speak!  Not only will signing help you and your child to clarify messages attempted through speech, but older, speaking children get a lot of enjoyment out of the class itself.  Several families bring their older preschool children along with them each week, and this age group especially finds it exciting to learn to "talk with your hands" and sing along with the silly songs.  Older siblings are some of the best teachers for their younger sibs, too! You can find the success stories of several older babies explained by their mothers on the Customer Stories page.

School-age siblings also attend First Signs classes with their younger siblings in the school holidays, and love it!


Does Signing help with behaviour issues and tantrums?

Yes. Please see information on the Benefits of Baby Sign page.


What are the First Signs I should teach Baby?

Baby's First Signs are usually "Milk, Drink, Food, More, and All Done."   These signs are quickly followed by signs for objects which Baby finds especially interesting, such as animals or favourite toy.  Each child is unique in the signs they desire to learn and use.


How do I start signing?

Starting with Baby Sign is very simple.  It only requires that you pair a gesture with your spoken word in conversations with your child! First Signs recommends focussing your efforts around mealtimes when you start signing.  This is a time when you and Baby are looking at each other, talking, and have each other's undivided attention.  This also gives you an excellent chance to teach signs for the First Signs "Milk, Drink, Food, More, All Done" - as these are the items and concepts that you are concentrating on anyway. 

As you continue signing with your child, you should introduce new signs as the opportunity presents itself.  (When an airplane flies by, the cat comes over to you, etc)  Soon signing will become a normal part of your conversation with Baby.


How do I know if my Baby is making progress?

Baby will at first maybe only seem to notice in passing that you are gesturing when you speak to her.  Then, Baby will begin to pay more attention to your hands when you talk with her.  Depending on the Baby's age, it can take a while before Baby attempts to sign to you, but when she does, it will usually take the form of a deep, intentional look, coupled with a repeated hand movement.  Whether or not Baby performs the sign exactly as you model it, she is communicating to you!  As a parent, you need to figure out what Baby is signing to you ( Baby's First Signs can sometimes be difficult to decipher!) and then accept this new communication and let Baby know that you understand.  From there, Baby will improve at her hand -coordination, and will attempt other signs at her own pace. 


What does research tell us about Baby Signing?

Please see information on the Benefits of Baby Sign page.

You may also be interested to read "How to Talk with your Baby Before your Baby can Talk," - a book I highly recommend. Book details here.


Will learning Baby Signing be difficult and time consuming?

Signing with your Baby will be an easy and enjoyable experience for both of you.  Just like playing together, tickle fun, and reading books is quality time spent together, signing will become a fun part of your everyday interaction. 

Attending First Signs classes is an easy way to learn signing in a relaxed environment where we focus on 5-10 new signs per week.  This gives you a chance to introduce and practice using signs slowly, rather than being bombarded with too much information.

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