She said it with her Hands

Sunday marked a huge ‘mommy moment’ for me. My mom-in-law (I call her Milly, for short) was playing with the baby in her room when I came in to bring her a bottle. At first sight of the bottle, the baby’s eyes lit up with joy (eating is NOT a game to her, lol) and she started her usual “I’m about to eat dance,” where she kicks and shuffles her little feet with excitement. Before giving her the bottle, Milly signed the word “milk” to the baby. That’s when it happened.

I swear, as sure as my name is The Princess of Geekadonia, that my little C.C. signed “milk” right back! Milly and I both froze in disbelief!!! Could it be???? We were so excited!!!!

I’ve been signing American Sign Language to C.C. since she was one month old. Teaching ASL and/or baby sign language  to an infant gives them an opportunity to express themselves before they are able to speak. According to, the benefits of signing to an infant include increased parental bonding, reduced fussiness (because the baby has a way to communicate their needs to you), and enhanced development.

Typically, parents start teaching signs after the 6 month mark – when babies’ brains are growing at their most rapid pace. But there are some that advocate for signing from birth to increase familiarity. As I mentioned, I started introducing basic signs, like milk, mommy, daddy, and I love you to C.C. when she was one month old. I never expected her to emulate them so soon.

Granted, it’s quite possible that this was all a fluke, because it’s not common for babies to return signs so early. But, it just seemed so real! And I had a witness! Both Milly and my husband are on board with showing the baby signs, so it’s been a team effort for all of us.

I consulted with an expert on Twitter about it (follow her @sign4baby), and she said, “if you think they did it, then they did.” Now, that was enough affirmation for me! We’re definitely going to keep practicing with C.C. and let her lead the way.

How about you? Any tips, suggestions, or stories? Please share!

In the meantime, check out this awesome video illustration of baby sign language!


Posted on April 19, 2011, in The Rattle: Everything Baby. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thats awesome!! I have a baby sign language book, but Im slacking off…thanks for encouraging me to get to it!

  2. What a wonderful post! I remember the first time my husband and I realized that our daughter was signing horse. We were up at the in-law’s ranch and my husband was holding our then 10-month old daughter up to a fence so that she could pet one of the horses. She kept putting her index finger up near her temple and kind of twirling it. When we didn’t respond to this, she actually made the motion again, pointed to the horse and made a horse sound! It was kind of like she was saying, “Hello, lame parents, I’m signing horse over here! How about a little excitement!” Needless to say we ecstatic! From then on we started really paying attention and realized that she was making all kinds of signs. Moral of the story, even when you are not sure if they are signing something, they could very well be. Act as if they are signing and give lots of praise and encouragement! Even if they are not exactly sure what they are doing, they’ll quickly piece it together, especially when they get lots of positive reinforcement from the grown-ups they love!

  3. This story is soo cute! I know you are imparting all kinds of wisdom in her, but signing too? Very cool.

  4. I have a 2 and a 3 year old. Both are girls. I have been signing with both since they were young. I know that you have what seems like an eternity until your little one will be 2 or 3, but let me tell you it goes fast. I just wanted to let you know a couple of the benefits we’ve experienced as they have grown up with sign. My 3 year old started reading shortly after turning 3. One day when changing Signing Time DVDs, the TV said “No Disc.” My 3 year old said “Mom it says ‘no.'” From weeks she read every “no” she could find. “No skateboarding.” “No left turns on red.” “No entrance.” I was so proud of her!

    My daughters also loved to take toys away from each other. After teaching them how to sign and say SHARE, MY TURN, YOUR TURN, PLEASE, and THANK YOU they both had something to do with their hands without just swiping the toy away from the other. The turns are usually only seconds long, but at least they are truly taking turns.

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