First Signs


Introduction to First Signs Baby Signing


What is First Signs Baby Signing?

First Signs Baby Signing is an exciting way of communicating with pre-verbal, hearing children.  Baby Sign Language is simply extending the use of simple, natural gestures (like waving “Bye-Bye”) to enable babies to share their thoughts, wants, needs, and feelings. 
Communication through gesture is something we all do everyday.  Consider the following examples:

  • Waving to say “Hello” or “Goodbye”

  • Shrugging shoulders and lifting your hands up to say “I don’t know”

  • Nodding and shaking head for “Yes” and “No”

  • Indicating “Come here” with your pointer finger

  • Finger to the lips to say “Shhh”

Based on natural gestures, such as those described above, and the basic principles of British and American Sign Language, Baby Signing helps pre-verbal, hearing children communicate with others in their day-to-day lives until they master speech.


How does Baby Signing help Language Development?

Baby Signing helps your child to start using many of the skills necessary for verbal language prior to being able to speak.  In a scientific study conducted by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn of the Baby Signs Institute, 8 year olds who signed as babies scored an average of 12 points higher on IQ tests, as well as displaying language skills, cognitive skills, and the advanced vocabulary of 9 year olds.  The impressive lead that signing children display in language skills corresponds almost exactly with the additional length of time that signing babies are able to communicate pre-speech.

Babies are able to communicate with gesture between the age of 7-9 months and will continue to use sign to communicate until they master speech.  Whilst learning to talk, signing children will often couple speech and signs to more effectively communicate their message.  After speech develops fully, signing usually fades.

The "Baby Signs" book by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn which discusses the research done on Baby Sign in detail is highly recommended by First Signs.  Copies are available to purchase at First Signs classes.  See our Baby Signing Books page.


A Home-Grown Case Study

I have been signing with my daughter, Suzanne, since she was 71/2 months of age.  When she was 8 months old, she started “saying” all done, followed quickly by milk, drink, and more.  These small, simple gestures immediately removed the frustrations surrounding mealtimes, and that was just the beginning!

Over the months that followed, Suzanne’s signing vocabulary continued to grow, allowing her to share her thoughts, desires and observations about everything in her daily life.  Suddenly, everyday activities like mealtimes and bathtime took on new meaning as we would "talk" together about what we were doing.  When Suzanne was about 14 months, we were able to easily and fluently discuss all the things which filled our day... from visiting the swings at the park and reading books together, to preparing lunch and noticing the airplanes flying overhead!

Now that Suzanne is nearing age 2 and starting to speak very well, she is learning new signs for both communication and sheer enjoyment.  She is very good at using signs together with her new words... helping me to differentiate whether “baa” means “ball” or “sheep!”  

Baby Signing has been a wonderfully rewarding part of our family life and we sincerely hope that other families will take full advantage of Baby Signing, too!


The ABCD's of Baby Signing

There are only a few basic principles which should be kept in mind when you are Signing with your Baby, and they are:

  • Always say the word when you make the sign!

  • Be patient while your Baby learns!

  • Create opportunities to sign with your Baby... repitition is how they learn!

  • Do it for fun, not as a chore!


Baby‘s First Signs

Baby's First Signs are usually Milk, Drink, Food, More and All Done.  When you start to teach Baby Signs to your little one, keep it simple!  Focus on a few signs to start with until your Baby gets the idea that what you are doing with your hands has the same meaning as your words!


For further information, please visit our "Benefits of Baby Signing" or "Frequently Asked Questions" pages.


**Please note that First Signs is NOT teaching a formalized, structured sign language (such as British Sign Language).  First Signs is teaching easy to use communication methods which have been specially tailored for use between hearing babies and toddlers and their carers.**

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