Baby Sign language: Top 15 Important First Signs

In my previous posts I have discussed the top 10 benefits of  teaching baby sign language. For this article, I have picked the 15 most important First Signs of Baby Sign Language  based on our experience of what helped us most in understanding Ed’s basic needs when he was around 1 Year old. There are plenty of other useful signs he learned during this time such as dog, cat, fish , bird , sun etc which were so great at helping him express his thoughts and observations. Basing my selection on importance and usefulness, here are the Top 15 signs I feel that made teaching baby sign language to Ed so worth it.

1. Milk

baby sign language sign for milk

Milk was the first sign that Ed learnt to make and he was such a pro at doing this one. Ed has always slept in a dark room, so whenever he would would wake up in the middle of the night, I would just gently touch his hand and could feel his hand moving and making the milk sign. Its almost miraculous when you see your pre verbal baby communicate his needs so clearly.


baby sign language sign for water

Ed started signing “water” quite early as well but he never quite got to making it correctly with three fingers until he was already saying the word. Instead of tapping three fingers to his chin he used to tap only one. But that did not really matter, as for us it was important to understand what he wanted and not if he was making the signs correctly. That is something we learnt from the Baby Signing Time dvds that we were using to teach Ed Baby Sign Language.




Eat is a very easy sign to perform for babies as it is just joining the fingers and taking it to their mouth, something that they are used to doing.Its a great sign, as it takes away the guesswork especially when you are unsure whether the child is crying for Milk or if  he want to eat something.


baby sign language sign for banana

This was Ed’s favorite fruit so it was a very important sign for us. Your baby may like some other fruit better and it would be helpful if you learn the sign.


baby sign language sign for cracker

Rice cracker was Ed’s  favorite snack and cheerios were a close second. If he wanted cheerios he did the sign for “cereal” which I have now included in the list but is also a favorite for many children.


baby sign language sign for more

Now that he has become such a picky eater, I wish Ed used this word the way he used to sign it when he was little.  He loved his mealtimes and we often saw the “More” sign come after a meal or when he wanted more of his favorite snacks such as rice crackers or cheerios.


baby sign language sign for finished

Another important sign that will help you to understand when the baby has had enough to feed.


baby sign language sign for hurt

This sign is an absolute must. It is quite easy to perform but getting a baby to understand the context may take a while. This is another reason why I feel teaching baby sign language by using videos makes it so much easier to explain complex concepts such as pain or hurt. For example seeing clips of children getting hurt or feeling pain in different scenarios and reacting to pain by crying and making the “hurt” sign is very helpful for the baby to learn the sign.

“Hurt” may not be a sign you see your baby learning very early on but when he/she does it will be a lifesaver. Pain is often misunderstood as hunger and the moment a baby cries every new parent reaches for milk thinking that the baby is hungry. If the baby is crying because of pain instead of hunger especially if its colic or a tummy ache , the last thing you want to do is overfeed the baby. Ed started doing the “Hurt” sign when he was almost one and used it very frequently when he was a toddler.


baby sign language sign for bath

This sign was very important for Ed’s sleep routine as it mentally prepared him that now its bath time and that bedtime is close. It helped us to establish a wonderful sleep routine for him since he was a little baby.


baby sign language sign for book

The book sign was also used as part of Ed’s Sleep Routine and we signed it  after his bath to read a book. When he was older we would usually read to him until Ed signed Milk which was our cue that the Book time was over and he wants to have his milk and sleep. We wanted Ed to learn the importance of Books and reading and ensured we did the “book” sign several times during the day and brought out his  books to read.


baby sign language sign for sleep

This is the third sign that was part of his Sleep Routine and Ed was usually too sleepy to make it but we would always make it before putting the lights off. He did the sign in the day whenever he wanted a nap. But I think he started making this closer to when he was around 1 year old.


baby sign language sign for mummy

Probably because a Mom is writing this ! Although Ed very rarely made this one, may be because I was always there with him. I knew he could make the sign, as he always made it when we were watching the Baby Signing time Dvds with him. But I have still listed this because I feel it is so its important for the baby to learn the signs of the two most important people in their life at that time.


baby sign language sign for daddy

It is lovely to watch your baby sign Daddy, when he does not see his Daddy at home. It’s him telling you that he is thinking of his Daddy and missing him. I don’t think it would be possible for you to know your baby’s thoughts so accurately without baby sign language.


baby sign language sign for diaper

Ed loved making this one! He really found this one funny and I am sure its because he learnt it by watching Rachael’s absolutely hilarious “Diaper Dance” song from “Baby Signing Time“. I remember when he was very small he used to get mixed up and do the Diaper sign even for Potty.


baby sign language sign for outside

Sometimes all a baby wants is to just go outdoors for a ride in their stroller. How else would they tell you that they are crying not because they are hungry or in pain but just need a ride to the park or just feel like getting out. Another tricky sign to master for very little children. But once they do, be ready to keep the stroller prepped all the time!


If you are considering using Baby Sign Language with your baby you may  like to read my detailed Baby Signing Time Review  and the Top 10 Benefits of Teaching Baby Sign Language


Author: EdMom

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