Baby Sign Language: Halloween & Fall Theme

Baby Sign Language: Halloween & Fall Theme

It’s Autumn and Halloween is just around the corner!

There’s nothing I love more than babies in costumes. I mean, seriously! it’s the cutest thing ever!

Holidays and seasons bring lots of opportunities to teach your baby new signs as babies are naturally curious about the different decorations they see all around them. In the photo below, one of my adorable Tiny Signs students (seriously, how stinkin’ cute is he!?) is signing “ball!” excitedly on a visit to the local pumpkin patch, letting his mom & dad know that he thinks all the pumpkins look like balls. So clever!

In today’s post, I’m sharing my favorite signs for fall and Halloween – I hope you enjoy!

In this mini-lesson you’ll learn how to sign PUMPKIN, TREE, RAIN, COLD, COSTUME, HALLOWEEN & CANDY.

So what is your little one going to be for Halloween? Share with me in the comments below – or better yet, share a picture with me on the Tiny Signs Facebook page.

Can’t wait to see!

Baby Sign Language and Your Bilingual Baby

Baby Sign Language and Your Bilingual Baby

Using Sign Language in a Bilingual Home

I often get asked by families who are using two spoken languages with their baby, “will signing just make things more confusing!?” My answer to this is always a resounding, “absolutely not!”  The fact is that signing can actually help your baby make the connection between the two spoken languages, accelerating the learning process and facilitating better communication all around.

Signing: The Bridge Between Spoken Languages

As your baby’s receptive language develops, they begin to associate a spoken word with an object. For example, your baby will learn that the spoken word “cat” means that furry thing that walks around the house and won’t let me touch it. ;)

A bilingual baby will need to learn the cat=that furry thing and also that gato=that furry thing, and then also make the connection that cat and gato have the same meaning.

Enter baby sign language…

When you are signing with your bilingual baby, you can make this process much easier. When you say “cat” in English while signing “cat” in ASL [American Sign Language], and then say “gato” in Spanish while signing “cat” in ASL, you are showing your baby that they mean the same thing, and ultimately speeding up the learning process.

Other Benefits of Signing with Your Bilingual Baby

One of my favorite benefits of signing with bilingual babies is it provides an opportunity to know what your baby understands in both languages. For example, a family that took classes with me shared their amazement when their baby signed “peach” when her grandparents mentioned the word conversationally in Mandarin. Before that moment, they had no idea just how much of her grandparents’ language she was really picking up!

Signing in Action

There are many ways to expose your baby to two spoken languages, but one of the most popular is the OPOL (one parent – one language) method. This is when each parent speaks exclusively to the child in their primary language. For example, mom always speaks Spanish and dad always speaks English.

See How It Works

I was so excited when one of the members of my Tiny Signs online course shared a video of her bilingual baby signing while listening to her parents speaking to her in both French and English.

In this video, you’ll see how signing facilitates beautiful communication in a bilingual family…

Pretty amazing, right!?

Here are some very cool facts:

Baby Claire [in video] will sign “eat” when…

    • asked if she is hungry (in French or English)
    • asked if she wants breakfast (in French or English)
    • asked if she wants lunch (in French or English)
    • asked if she wants supper (in French or English)

This one simple sign allows her parents to really know what she is learning in both languages and how her vocabulary and comprehension is developing – all before she has spoken her first word!

To Wrap Up

If you are planning to use two spoken languages with your baby and have any concerns that signing might confuse things, I hope this puts that worry to rest, once and for all!

Baby sign language is a wonderful tool to enhance communication in your bilingual home!

A huge thank you to Melissa and Roch for allowing me to share their video. Merci beaucoup!

Would you like to join the growing community of new parents in the Tiny Signs Online course? We’d love to have you! Just click here for more information and we’ll see you inside the program!

Baby Sign Language: Valentine’s Day Theme

Baby Sign Language: Valentine’s Day Theme

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s the time of year where we celebrate love and share cards, flowers & chocolates with those near and dear to us. It’s Valentine’s Day! Holidays are a great opportunity to introduce new baby sign language vocabulary because there are often lots of new things to see. Everywhere you go you’ll find hearts and candy everywhere… heart shape balloons…teddy bears holding hearts…so many opportunities to introduce new words and signs.

In this video I’ll show you some fun Valentine’s Day signs and a story you can share with your baby…

In today’s video, you’ll learn how to sign VALENTINE, HEART, LOVE, I LOVE YOU, CANDY, CHOCOLATE and SWEETHEART. Then I’ll show you how to sign along to the lift-the-flap book, “Where Is Baby’s Valentine?” by Karen Katz which you can add to your collection if you don’t already have it. I love her books!

where baby valentine




Baby Sign Language Tips

Baby Sign Language Tips

by Lane Rebelo, LCSW

The following baby sign language tips are just what you need to start signing with confidence! This is Baby Sign Language Lesson #3 in the How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language Series.


6 Essential Baby Sign Language TipsOnce you’ve chosen some great baby sign language signs to start with, it’s time to start signing!

But… how!?

Parents often ask me…

Do I just start doing the sign all the time? My baby doesn’t seem interested – how do I get him to look at me? Do I have to do the sign every time I say the word? What if I forget?

It might feel like a lot to take on during an already extremely hectic time in life. You might even start to wonder, “Is it even worth the effort?”

Believe me, as a busy mom myself, I get it!

But armed with some good advice and a solid plan, you’ll find that signing with your baby is actually fun and easy (not to mention totally worth it).

I’ve put together the following baby sign language tips to help make it as easy as possible for you!

Baby Sign Language Tips

Tip #1 – Choose signs based on your baby’s interests

Parents often pick practical signs when starting with baby sign language: milk, sleep, diaper, etc. This is totally understandable! Of course we want our babies to communicate these things to us – it would make life soooo much easier!

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: parents who pick signs based on their baby’s interests have much higher success with signing! LIGHT and FAN are just two examples of items your baby sees often that are very interesting to them and therefore very motivating. What are some things your baby seems interested in? Do you have a dog, a cat, or a fish tank? A ceiling fan in the living room, or a mobile over the changing table? Think about what might interest your baby, and if that might be a possible first sign to learn.

Learn more about picking basic baby sign language signs to get started

Baby Sign Language Tips


Tip #2 – Start with a Handful of Signs

If you’re just starting out, you might be wondering how many signs to use at first. I recommend starting with a handful (4 is a good number). This will give you a nice variety without being overwhelming. You’ll want to use those 4 starter signs each day, if possible.

If you start with LOTS of signs, it can be hard to use all of them consistently so you might end up using some of them on one day, and other ones the next, which is not a great strategy. When you’re first getting started, start with 4 and stick with them. Use them as consistently as possible. Add more when your baby starts signing back, or when you’ve really got the hang of it and are eager to add more signs into your daily routine.

If your baby is already signing, don’t hold back! Introduce as many new signs as you are able (a few more each week) and watch how quickly they pick them up. When your baby’s signing really takes off, they might be picking up new ones every day!

Baby Sign Language Tips

Look up signs in the free baby sign language video dictionary


Tip #3 – Always sign & say the word together

This tip is a simple but important one. You want to always say and sign the word together. “Baby sign language” isn’t a formal language – it’s just what we call it when we pair sign language (American Sign Language or ASL on this site) with a spoken language (English and/or other languages). And because the ultimate goal when signing with hearing children is to facilitate and encourage speech development, it’s important to always say the word each time you sign it for reinforcement.

Baby Sign Language Tips


Tip #4 – Always sign in context

When you’re first introducing a new sign, always use it in context. Sign “milk” when your baby is feeding, sign “ball” when you or your baby is holding a ball. Sign “dog” when the dog is visible in the room, and so on. Signing in context will help your baby make the connection between the sign, word & object more quickly.

Once baby establishes the meaning of a particular sign/word, you can use the sign any time!

Baby Sign Language Tips


Tip #5 – Sign in your baby’s line of vision

You might find that it can be tricky to get your baby to look at you when you’re trying to show them a new sign! When introducing a new sign, you want to put yourself (and especially your hands) into your baby’s line of sight. One little trick you can try to is to make an interesting sound to get your baby to look at you. For example, if you baby is looking at a car, you can say “beep beep! vroom vroom!” which will likely make your baby turn to look at you. Once your baby’s looking at you, say and sign CAR before they turn away again. Voila!

Baby Sign Language Tips


Tip #6 – Have fun!

If you want to succeed in signing with your baby, the absolute BEST thing you can do is make it fun. Signing should be playful and silly – never a chore. If you’re feeling tired & grumpy, or your baby’s having an “off” day, skip the signing and try again when you’re both feeling better. When signing is incorporated into play time, story time and songs, your baby will be eager to get in on the action. So don’t be shy! Let your inner goofball out and have a blast!

Baby Sign Language Tips



Baby sign language is fun and easy when you feel confident that your efforts will pay off. Following the practical tips above will avoid confusion and help your baby get the hang of signing quickly!

More lessons in the How to Teach Your Baby Sign Language series:

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: