Basic Baby Sign Language

Basic Baby Sign Language

by Lane Rebelo, LCSW Now that you’ve learned the benefits of baby sign language, and decided when to start baby sign language, it’s time to get pick some basic baby sign language signs and get started! This is Baby Sign Language Lesson #2 in the How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language Series. Learn how to do 10 easy signs with this super simple guide to basic baby sign language.

Basic Baby Sign Language

When I decided to start signing with my first daughter, one of the first decisions I had to make was which signs we would start with. There are so many to choose from and I knew I wanted to keep it simple. Like many parents, I started with basic baby sign language signs like MORE, ALL DONE and EAT. My initial hope was that baby sign language would allow my daughter to let me know when she was hungry or tired. And she did! EAT actually was her very first sign (although I missed it the first few times she did it). But I was surprised to find that the signs she was most excited about (and used the most) were for things like LIGHT and CAR. I quickly realized that there was so much more to talk about than just food and naps! And in the 10+ years I’ve been helping new parents teach their little ones sign language, I’ve found that sometimes the best signs to start with are NOT necessarily the most obvious choices. Learn how to do 10 easy signs in this super simple guide to basic baby sign language. In fact, I’ve seen this happen with my students over and over. New parents start out signing with common basic baby sign language like MORE, MILK and MOM. They try and try to get their little one to sign back, but it’s just not working. They start to lose hope and consider giving up. Then I’ll suggest picking some new signs based on their little one’s interests, and BAM, their little one starts signing back. I’ve had students whose first signs were BIRD, BLUEBERRY and even FAN. Some thoughtfully chosen playful signs will make a huge difference in how quickly your baby signs back.

Useful Signs

Most parents begin with what I call useful signs when they are first starting out. Some of my favorite useful signs are MILK, EAT, MORE, ALL DONE, and BED, which I’ll show you how to do below (it’s really easy!). Useful signs will make life with baby a whole lot easier because your baby will be able to tell you when he’s hungry, sleepy or even needs a diaper change. Another great thing about useful signs is that you can use them many times throughout the day at every feeding, changing, and nap. This gives you lots of chances to practice signing to your baby, and lots of opportunities for your little one to see the signs.

Learn how to sign MILK, EAT, MORE, ALL DONE, and BED.

You’ll find even more examples of useful signs here: You can also look up signs in the baby sign language video dictionary. So, yes, while these useful signs are really practical, you might be surprised to learn that they might not be your baby’s first signs. After more than a decade of teaching baby sign language, I’ve learned an invaluable trick to getting babies signing quickly is incorporating some playful signs when you first get started.

Playful Signs

Playful signs are important because they work with baby’s interests and motivate them to start signing. Think of it this way, your baby is already a pro at getting her needs met. By crying and fussing, she can let you know she’s ready for a feeding or a nap. And while it might be hard to imagine right now if your baby is really little, there are lots of things your baby will be eager to “talk” with you about (like the DOG or CAT, or even the ceiling FAN!). This is where playful signs come in. Learn how to do 10 easy signs in this super simple guide to basic baby sign language. Playful signs are signs that will motivate your baby to start signing back, and they are different for every baby. Picking the right playful signs boils down to figuring out what tends to capture your baby’s attention, which you might already know. If you’re not sure which playful signs to start with, spend some time today or tomorrow observing your little one. Does she kick her legs every time she looks up at the LIGHT or ceiling FAN? Or does she point, or smile, or make noises when the DOG or CAT is nearby? Does your baby have a favorite toy? Maybe a squeaky GIRAFFE or BANANA teething toy? Some of my favorite playful signs are DOG, LIGHT, BALL, BOOK, and CAR, which I’ll show you below.

Learn How to Sign DOG, LIGHT, BALL, BOOK, and CAR

You’ll find even more examples of Playful Signs here: You can also look up signs in the baby sign language video dictionary.


Picking the right signs to start with will have a direct impact on how quickly your baby signs back. In order to spark your baby’s interest in signing, you’ll want to think outside the box when picking first signs. Selecting a mix of both useful signs that you can use throughout the day AND playful signs to motivate your baby is the secret to your signing success! More lessons in the How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language series: Tell me in the comments: What signs are you going to start with?

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The Best Baby Sign Language Book

In Baby Sign Language Made Easy, Lane Rebelo, founder of the award-winning Tiny Signs® baby sign language program, delivers the step-by-step guidance that has helped thousands of parents integrate baby sign language into their daily routine. 

With Baby Sign Language Made Easy you and your child will quickly learn to communicate about everything that goes on in their little world―and you’ll have fun doing it.

Potty Training with Baby Sign Language

Potty Training with Baby Sign Language

Potty Training? 8 ASL Signs you need to know

Let me start by saying that I’m no potty training expert (although I did manage to get both of my kids out of diapers so #yay). And while I might not be a potty training guru, one thing I DO know a lot about is using sign language as a communication tool for infants and toddlers. And when it comes to potty training, communication is key. Toddler speech varies greatly from one kiddo to the next, so if you’ve got a toddler with a large vocabulary who’s easy to understand, then you might not need to use signs when potty training. Many toddlers, however, are still working on building their vocabulary – and those early words can be really hard to understand. If that sounds like your little one, you’ll find the information in this article really helpful! Potty Training Success with Baby Sign Language

When to Potty Train

Before the use of disposable diapers, babies in the United States were usually potty trained in the 12-18 month range. That’s understandable when you think of washing all those cloth diapers by hand! But as disposable diapers became increasingly popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the average age of potty training has crept up to 2.5 years, and even later. Among my early parenting peers [circa 2006], it was definitely the norm to start thinking about potty training around age 2 or so, with a goal to be done by age 2.5 or 3. These days, savvy parents are realizing that the disposable diaper industry is the biggest benefactor of waiting to potty train, and these smart millennials are starting to potty train earlier to minimize damage to the environment (not to mention their wallets!). However, potty training earlier on means your little one might still be developing his speech skills, which can make communicating about when to go a little tricky.

How Baby Sign Language Can Help with Potty Training

As parents and caregivers seek to start potty training before their little ones’ second birthday, one of the biggest challenges can be communication. Most babies might be saying a few words around their first birthday and might have a vocabulary of up to 50 words by 18 months. Their verbal articulation may still be quite limited and often difficult to understand. In fact, you might only understand about 50% of what your toddler is saying! Communication is an essential part of the potty training process. This limited ability to talk can make potty training even more challenging. Your little one needs to be able to let you know when he’s got to go!

Enter Sign Language

Using basic signs is the perfect way to bridge the language gap with your toddler. Teaching your little one how to sign “potty” will allow her to let you know it’s time to go! Another cool bonus for teaching your toddler the sign for “potty” is that it’s quiet and doesn’t involve them shouting their need to poop for the whole grocery store to hear. Nice, right?

Potty Training Signs to Start With

The most obvious sign to start with is the sign POTTY. It’s pretty easy, as you’ll see in the video below. If your kiddo is a little older, and you want to be more specific, you can also teach them the signs for PEE and POOP, but most families find that the sign for POTTY alone does the trick. The following video will show you how to sign POTTY, PEE and POOP. After that, you’ll find videos for other signs that might come in handy, like CHANGE, DIAPER, DIRTY, CLEAN and ALL DONE.

How to Sign POTTY, PEE & POOP in ASL


Click through the videos to see how to do a few more signs that might come in handy when potty training…

The Best Potty Training Book

As I mentioned before, I’m no potty training expert. But thank goodness I know someone who is! My friend, Jamie Glowacki, is a potty training ninja and all-around rock star. She’s also the author of the bestselling potty training book Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right. So if you’re looking for guidance on how to potty train your little one, I definitely recommend picking up her book. She knows her stuff! And if you find you want support beyond the book, Jamie and her certified Potty Training Coaches are always offering cool potty training workshops and intensives, so if you’d like to work with Jamie directly, or need specialized help around a particular challenge, you can find her at

You Can Do It!

Now you know the most useful signs to help get your little one communicating during the potty training journey. You’ve also got a great book recommendation for best practices on potty training, as well as an insider tip on how to put a real expert on speed dial. You’ve got everything you need to succeed. You’ve got this!

Got More Hot Tips?

If you’ve got a great potty training tip to share, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!  

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Gift Guide for Busy Babies

Gift Guide for Busy Babies

The Best Gifts for Busy Babies

With the holidays here, many of us looking for gifts for our own little ones, as well as our smallest nieces and nephews. To help you with your holiday shopping, I’m sharing my absolute favorite gift ideas for busy babies. These toys will work for a wide variety of ages, but when making this list I had babies in the 8-18 month old range in mind.

Think scooching, crawling, pulling up, cruising & taking those exciting first steps.

Movers & groovers. Babies on the go!

Here in New England the cold winter months can be loooong with an active baby or new toddler, so I also thought about the life saver toys that got me through the winter when my January baby turned 1 and started walking. These are great choices to keep your baby movin’ & groovin’ – even when you’re stuck inside.

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase using a link from this page, I might receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support my small business. Thank you!

1. Hohner Kids Toddler Music Band

Dance break! Make some noise and have some fun with these baby-friendly musical instruments. Your baby will love this now. Your toddler will love this later. Your preschooler will continue to love it. Your kindergartner will love it too. You get the idea.

2. DIY Ball PitBall Pit + Balls 

I love/hate this evil concoction I came up with. I love it because it provided so much fun for my babies (and our playgroup!) at home. I also love it because I’ve watched so many of my students have a blast with it in class. I hate it because…balls. Everywhere. You will curse my name as you crawl around pulling them out from under every piece of furniture in your house. I’m sorry.

3. LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table – $65
Another noisy toy, but it was a real favorite with my daughters. It was so attractive to my first that she actually pulled up to standing for the very first time on it!

4. Imagination Generation Wooden Wonders 5-in-1 Deluxe Activity Cube – $35

If the plastic and noise of the LeapFrog table don’t appeal to you, this is a kinder, gentler type of toy that has much of the same appeal (and none of the noise).

5. Pop-up Play Tent  – $24 (lots of options at different prices for these too)

We have a pop-up tent & tunnel that my girls (ages 6 & 10) STILL play with (well, just the tent – I think they’d get stuck in tunnel ;). A pop-up tent like this is great to have because it’s an instant fort that folds up compactly when you’re not using it. Your baby will love it if you fill it with a few their favorite playthings.

6. Play Tunnel – $29 (but there are others available for less)

If you’re not up for the whole tent set-up, a tunnel alone can still be tons of fun for crawlers and toddlers alike!

7. Little Tikes Junior Play Slide – $50 (check out Craig’s List for a hand-me-down to save $$)

You might think of this as something for playing with outside, but this is actually a great indoor toy during a long winter with a busy toddler. It’s an easy way to turn any room into a mini-playground. Just fold it up and tuck it away when not in use.

8. Fisher-Price Bright Beginning Activity Walker – $25

Push toys are a great choice for the early walker, but this is my favorite. It’s surprisingly stable and folds so you can tuck it away when not in use. A shopping cart would also be a great choice, but I’ve never found one that’s not tippy.

9. Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen Playset – $80

The play kitchen is often thought of as a toy for the preschool set, but we got ours when my first was about 15 months old and she LOVED it. Your baby will love opening and closing the doors, putting stuff inside and taking it out. Hours of fun. Don’t wait until your baby is 2 or 3 to invest in one of these. There are so many options at all different price points, so do some research and find the one that works for you.

10. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

My favorite books for this age range is a whole other list, but I couldn’t make this list without including at least one book. I love this particular one as babies love the real photos of common items and it’s great for language building. It’s also great for practicing new sign language vocabulary!

Sign & Sing: The More We Get Together

Sign & Sing: The More We Get Together

How to Sign “The More We Get Together” with ASL Signs

Music is a powerful & fun learning tool for young children. Learning familiar melodies through repetition provides opportunity to practice and master new vocabulary – both spoken AND signed. One of my favorite songs to sign & sing with little ones is “The More We Get Together” by Raffi. It has 3 great ASL signs to introduce to young children: more, happy & friend. You don’t have to sign every single word in the song. Picking key words gives you time to model the sign slowly and provides little ones ample time to observe & try it themselves. Using about one sign per line of lyrics is usually about right, but do what feels right for you. If you only use one sign for the whole song, that’s fine too!

Lyrics to “The More We Get Together” by Raffi

The more we get together, together, together
the more we get together the happier we’ll be
‘cause my friends are your friends
and you friends are my friends
the more we get together the happier we’ll be.

How to sign “more” in American Sign Language

To sign “more”  simply bring all your fingertips together, and then tap your two hands together twice. How to sign more in American Sign Language

How to sign “happy” in American Sign Language

To sign “happy” brush your flat hand in an upward motion on your chest twice.

How to sign “friend” in American Sign Language

To sign “friend” hook your bent pointer fingers together (this bent finger handshape is the letter “X” in ASL), and then switch them. How to sign FRIEND in American Sign Language

How to sign “The More We Get Together” in American Sign Language

Here’s a video of me singing & signing at one of my Tiny Signs classes. The video was captured by a mom (hi Anna!) who’s little guy loved it so much, they would watch the video in between our weekly classes. I also add the sign “together” when we do this. You can too! To sign “together” place your two fists (with thumbs up) together and circle them in front of your body.

Video of How to Sign “The More We Get Together”

You might notice I’m wearing a bear! This stuffed bear was specially made for teaching young children sign language – they love to give “Honey Bear” high fives at the end of class! I don’t know where you can find one (I purchased mine through a sign language training program years ago), but you could easily make one by putting a long sleeve t-shirt over a large stuffed bear and putting your arms through the sleeves.

Free Printable!

How to sign The More We Get Together in American Sign Language with video instructions and free printable

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Add a few simple ASL signs to songs you already know & love is such an easy way to start building your sign language vocabulary. I hope these instructions and video have demonstrated just how simple it is to get started!

To make it even easier for you, I’ve created a free printable you can download and print, to help you remember the signs. To have the printable delivered straight to your inbox, simply enter your name & email below. You’ll also get updates on new lessons just like this as they become available!


Baby Signing at the Beach!

Baby Signing at the Beach!

Head to the Beach and Learn Some New Signs!

A trip to the beach brings new sights, smells & textures and ignites your baby’s senses. An exciting & stimulating environment is a perfect time to introduce your little one to new words & signs.

Today’s free mini-lesson will give you the tools you need to teach your baby some fun & useful American Sign Language signs.

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Today I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite signs for things you’ll see at the beach. I hope you enjoy this quick video lesson and free printable guide.

Have fun at the beach!


Beach Signs 

Bonus: Free Printable!

I’ve also created a FREE printable guide that you can keep as a reference to help you remember how to do  a few of these signs.

If you already get email updates from me, the link to download the printable was in your email. If you are not yet on the Tiny Signs list, please sign up for immediate access to this free PDF guide.

Thanks for watching and if you enjoyed this free mini-lesson, please share with a friend!


Baby Sign Language Quick Start Guide

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