Baby Sign Language Chart

Dominique W. Brooks
Baby girl in pink dress.

Until your infant learns to speak, you may spend a lot of time guessing about your child's wants and needs. Using a baby sign language chart may help you improve your communication with your infant or toddler.

Sign Language and Children

It can be frustrating to take care of your infant or toddler before he can communicate with you. However, infants understand language long before they can speak, so it is possible that they might be able to communicate with you if they had the necessary tools. One tool is sign language-even if your child can hear-- which has recently become very popular among parents.

Sign language allows your child to learn to communicate his or her needs and can avoid some of the frustration that may occur when the child is unable to express his needs or wants. You can begin teaching your child sign language as early as six months of age.

Some people feel that sign language may delay speech development, but research has shown that it can actually promote verbal language development in many children.

Teaching Your Child Sign Language

  • Babies can use their hands well enough to form signs at around eight months of age. They can be ready to sign by the time they are able to sit up alone. The muscles in their hands develop faster than the ones that they use for speaking. Many children will begin to sign back to you at this time.
  • Most experts suggest that you use a standardized sign language like ASL or American Sign Language. This makes communication simpler and allows your child to be understood by other people who use sign language. Using a standardized language will allow you to be consistent when signing with your child.
  • A variety of baby sign language charts, classes, and programs are available to teach you and your child sign language. Sign language charts may be simpler and are generally less expensive.

Charts for Baby Sign Language

There are many baby sign language charts that you can print from the Internet for free or order at low cost.

  • Alphabet charts: This chart shows each letter of the manual alphabet. An example of an alphabet chart is available on Babies-and-Sign-Language.com.
  • Basic gestures: This type of chart has the signs for objects like "bath," "milk," or "bed." These are basic signs that your child may need to use earlier in her communications. A sample basic chart is on SignWithMe.com.
  • More advanced gestures: These signs will increase your child's vocabulary so that he can carry on conversations as he gets older. An example of this chart is located on BabySignLanguage.com.

Sets of flash cards are also available online that can significantly increase both you and your child's vocabularies.

Getting the Best Use Out of These Charts

You can print out the charts or cards and tape them to the wall or refrigerator door for easy reference. Repetition and consistency is key to helping your infant learn the signs.

  • Be sure to sign the activity before, during, or after the activity.
  • Continue to use the sign until your baby signs it back.
  • Move on to another sign.

If you need help with downloading a printable, check out these helpful tips.

However, don't forget to continue to use the signs that you have already taught your infant or they will be forgotten. This builds up your baby's vocabulary.

Good words to start with from your sign language charts are those associated with feeding or with bath time like milk or bath. Since these are activities that your infant frequently engages in, he will be more receptive to these signs.

Sign language for babies can help improve communication between you and your child and may promote language development. For many parents, baby sign language is an important component of child-rearing. With the many types of sign language charts and programs, you can easier incorporate sign language into your daily lives.

Baby Sign Language Chart