Sign Language: Update

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For more on Signs please read “Baby Signs” post

I know I only recently wrote a post on sign and using sign languages for babies, but it has been getting better and better.

Lexi’s verbal development has taken back seat to her physical development ever since she started walking, so while she keeps adding words to her vocabulary little by little, her  use of signs has exploded.

She signs for everything. Even when she doesn’t know a sign for an object or action ( because I am still really bad at looking those up), she will either come up with one or use a sign for another object of the same group. She has taken to signing giraffe for anything that is either:

a. Tall or long
b. A wild animal she doesn’t know the sign for


{signing more}

She has also changed a few signs to suit her needs. For example for a while her drink sign looked exactly like her all done sign but with one hand. So it wasn’t clear to us whether she mean one or the other, since she would do both of them with one hand. After days of getting frustrated because we don’t understand her, she has come up with a new sign for drink that is unmistakable. The only issue is she also signs it when she sees others drinking, and then we rush to get her a drink only to realize she was just signing what she was seeing.


Some of the other signs she’s come up on her own and uses consistently are:

rain – we had our first daytime rain and walked out to check it out. She was enthralled! It was one of the most fun experiences for her. So she instantly came up with a sign for it and still remembers it ad signs it every time I say “rain” even though it hasn’t rained since.

to pet  –   This one is SOOOO adorable when she signs it. She will run up to her Lion or to our kitties and start “slapping” the side of her face in a petting motion

Coffeemaker/noise/vaccuum –  Andrew had shown her how a coffee maker works and she instantly picked up on the dripping motion and amended the rain sign to indicate the coffee maker. Since it makes a noise, she is also using that sign for anything that makes a “Zzzhhhhh” noise, like lawn mower, vaccuum and noise in general.


It’s really amazing to see how much help it has been for her to be able to sign and express herself. I can see she gets a kick out of it herself and we love it, too. I’d like to once again encourage everyone to give it a try and stay patient with it using the signs consistently at least until they start signing back. It’s a huge favor you’re doing yourself and your kid by teaching them to communicate more efficiently.

For more on Signs please read “Baby Signs” post

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  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    That’s awesome! It must be so nice to be able to communicate with her more. Are there any books you used or just looked up the signs on the internet and went from there? Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      April 22, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      I started with baby signs book just to read about the concepts and how it works and then simply look up new signs online.
      The link to the book is on the sidebar under recommended books widget.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 8:04 AM

    I think you had mentioned before you were expecting her verbal to not take off as quickly as some others just because of the bilingual aspect.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    I love when you write about sign language and how Lexi is adapting with this! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    even though P is already putting together sentences (well lots of words spun together) she still sometimes signs at the same time.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Thank you for the update! So happy to hear her signing is coming along! I bought the baby signs and baby hearts book and have been signing for a couple months to my daughter, locklyn. She is 9 months and has just started to sign back. So much fun and rewarding! I am so grateful you recommended signing!!

  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I’ve heard that although sign language is an amazing tool to ease frustration for a toddler who is not yet verbal, it can lead to speech delays…. I am in no way implying that your child is, or could be verbally delayed, nor am I an ‘expert’, just sharing what I’ve heard. It’s great that you’re having success so far!

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      April 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      I think that’s a pretty common misconception.

      I had thought that too before looking into doing this.

      It’s been shown that not only signing does not result in language delays but it actually fosters child’s speech and communication desires and abilities.

      • Reply
        April 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        I had always heard that signing would cause speaking delays, too, but I understand this isn’t true. We only taught our son about three signs (more, all done, and drink). We were focused on helping him communicate basic needs to avoid tantrums, and this worked out well. I would definitely do it this way again.

        The interesting part is that now, at 17 months, he has loads of spoken words and adds more words every day BUT he still signs and only signs for more, all done, and drink. He just. refuses to learn the spoken words for those. When I try to get him to say those words, he looks at me like, seriously? You know what I mean.

        Anyhow, I wonder if he had learned more signs if he would not bother learning to say the words for any of the signs he knew. Has Alexis replaced any of her signs with spoken words? Or is she adding spoken words that she doesn’t have signs for?

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          April 24, 2013 at 7:36 AM

          She doesn’t have that many spoken words really to be able to judge that. You’ll see when I write the update.
          And I don’t expect her to add many any time soon since she’s bilingual. What she does have we don’t have signs for. But we also don’t have that many signs either. I think it will more clear when her speech explodes. But right now she’s adding words VERY SLOWLY, but understands a crazy amount of them in both languages.

        • Reply
          Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
          May 8, 2013 at 12:08 AM

          Hey, I am reading a book that talks about language development and something there reminded me of your comment.
          It said that (among other things) the way babies “pick” which words to say and when to talk is by need. As in, if they have a need to communicate something to you, they are more likely to say that word ( which is kind of a given now that I read that). But the point is, the reason why your 17 months old won’t say the words for the signs he is using is because he doesn’t need to. He knows the words but it works perfectly fine with the signs so he’s focusing on learning to say other words that he doesn’t know the signs for.
          Makes total sense and probably is exactly the reason why the silly myth of sign language impeding language development is alive and well. It doesn’t impede language development, it helps it, however it also moved it towards other words that the kid has no signs for.

          Sort of the same thing with Lexi, she has not had ANY trouble communicating her need to us through signs and actions (she’s very physical at this point), and she comes up with her own signs for things (which is so adorable). Once there is a need for her to say the words she needs to AND she is ready to make those sounds, she will. (I can’t remember exactly why bilingual upbringing delays speech, too, gotta re-read that)

  • Reply
    April 22, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I’d love to see a post about how Lexi is doing verbally. The signing is certainly cool, but babies learning to talk are soooo cute too.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      April 22, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      I have it in drafts and I am slowly trying to catch all her words on video which is super hard, cuz she never says anything on command, except maybe for certain animal sounds when she feels like it.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2013 at 2:02 AM

    So happy the sign language is going well. It is wonderful when any technique is able to remove some of their frustration associated with communication.

    Well done for taking the time to teach it to her.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Great post! I’ve been following your blog for a bit and Lexi is adorable. She reminds me soooo much of my little dynamo – early first steps, extremely active with little patience for being contained. We felt like other parents had it so easy compared to us…we were always running after her! She too had a bit of a speech delay, but we got her into therapy when she was around Lexi’s age and the results have been AMAZING!! Looking forward to hearing more about how Lexi develops 🙂

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Hi Elena,
    Thank you so much for these sign-themed posts. My daughter is 6 m/o now and I can’t wait to introduce signing to her.

    Me and my husband are both Russian living in Australia so bilingual thing is also something I’m really interested in. I’d love to hear more about how you’re raising a bilingual child. I know that your situation is different from ours since your husband is a native English speaker but I’m sure your experience will help us anyway. I love how throughout your parenting approach is!

    Thanks again! Looking forward to more posts about baby-signing and bilingual babies. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 28, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    One thing I have noticed with our daughter and her speech is that she doesn’t even attempt to say the words she knows the signs for. She’s for a pretty big vocabulary, but when it comes to the words she knows in signing, she won’t actually *say* those words. Have you noticed that with Lexi? I feel like if we hadn’t taught her those signs, she may actually be *saying* those words now.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Aaaaaaand I just read your response to a previous comment mentioning this specifically. Way to go, Corinne!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Sign language for babies provides your kid a far a lot of specific way to communicate his desires and wishes. Babies love this, since it’s even as frustrating for them as for folks once their crying is wrong understood. Babies who sign will let parents understand exactly what they need, whether or not it’s their diaper changed or another serving to of strained sweet potatoes.

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