Baby Sign: My Top 10 Signing Stories, FREE Inspiration and Resources for YOU!

MJ signing “wind” as he’s feeling it, at the Arboretum, March 2008

more “wind” at The Lakes, April 2008

“up” with the Easter egg…


signing “dirty” while he plays in the dirt!

signing “bubbles” while he’s playing with them

signing “cook” while he helps Daddy in the kitchen

signing “water”

signing “cracker”

signing “eat” before Thanksgiving dinner by the dining table, 2008

One of my passions is SIGNING with babies and young children, and opening this world of communication up to new parents. I can’t say enough about how it enhanced my bond with my two kids, while expanding their vocabulary and communication skills, strengthening the language connections in their brains. Back in the “old days”, I just taught myself with a little book – nothing online, no videos, classes, or websites. I just added new words each week, and practiced incorporating them ALL THE TIME with baby MJ.

“Sign, Sing, and Play”!

Today I’m offering a seminar for the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas about how to connect signing with music in everyday routines and rituals with young children for even stronger brain connections, so it’s all fresh on my mind. And I’ve pulled up some of these photos from my past, which is making me miss my LITTLE tots. Now MJ’s about to start 1st grade and baby Ellie will be in Kindergarten, so the signing is still fun, but they can speak, read, and write now! However, coming back to these simple songs, signs, and times is a great reminder to keep putting special ritual for connecting in our busy days together as a family. And they love to hear the stories from when they were “little”! Our most common sign to use nowadays is a quiet “I love you” across the room, and I’ll never forget when MJ signed it to me for the first time from his crib as I stood at his door after telling him goodnight. PLEASE let me know if you have any questions  – I’d love to guide you and your young child on this journey of bonding and communication!

“train” is a great sign! (and you’ll find so many chances to use it – in books, songs, at rr crossings, etc..)

“bunny” is a fun spring sign (“hug”/ “kiss” the bunny, is the bunny “soft”?)

Ellie was this age when she first signed “swing” (also a good place for “more”, “out”, and “stop”)

“bell” is a good sign and helps with auditory and visual tracking/ also for building attention

“snow” and “cold” signs for weather…

“water” play is a great time to practice signing “wash”, “water”, “listen”, “clean”, “all done”…

The “Merry Christmas” sign is a way for little ones to give good wishes before they can talk… (a “C”-shaped hand through the air like a rainbow) MJ was only 8 months old when he shared this greeting with others!

“color” or “draw” some different pictures and signs to practice…

practice “bath” and “water” signs at bath-time…or try on “hats” in the tub!

play peek-a-boo to sign “where” and “hiding”

My Top 10 Signing Stories:

  1. When MJ was a tot, I heard him grunting from the living room while I was working in the kitchen. He was standing in the basket of instruments singing “out”, and I realized he was stuck!
  2. When MJ was just 10 months old and we were outside playing at a park, I saw him looking across the way and signing “hat”, and I saw a man in the distance wearing a hat. “Yes, you see a man wearing a hat!” Signing helps you notice what they notice, giving you insights into their thoughts. (He would also “tell” me when he saw a plane, a flag, a bird, a bug…)
  3. When Ellie was 8 months old, we were sharing a morning snuggle in my bed, and she first signed “milk”, asking to nurse. How could I refuse? She continued this for several more months, adding “please”….later, “chocolate” (just kidding).
  4. Both of my children used to indicate they were finished eating in the high chair by signing “play”. And I would sing, “What does Ellie/ Michael James like to do all day? He/ She likes to play, play, play!
  5. I used to walk Ellie to swing at the park across the street after dropping off big brother MJ at Mother’s Day Out. One day, when Ellie was 9 months old, I started putting her back into the car to divert from our normal routine, she started frantically signing “swing”…again, how could I resist?
  6. When MJ was 15 mos old and we were out of town and out of our normal routine. As I strolled him back to our hotel room, I signed and said we were going to take a Bath, read a book, and go to bed. He signed “bath”, “book”, and “bed” to me, indicating he understood the plan! Giving him a sense of normalcy and security in a different environment.
  7. When MJ was a year old, and we had been playing at a friend’s house for a while, I saw waiting at the front door, looking over his shoulder to sign “home” to me, indicating he was tired and ready to go home.
  8. Before Ellie could sing or talk, she could sign our family song with the rest of us at the kitchen table, so she was still participating! “In our family, in our family, and in the world, in the world, we will listen, help, and share, love and care, love and care.” I used to sign and sing a special blessing with MJ before eating in his high chair, as well: Thank you for the world so sweet, Thank you for the food we eat, Thank you for the birds that sing, Thank you, God for everything.”
  9. Once when Daddy took 18-mo-old MJ to the aquarium for a special outing, MJ helped to carry Daddy’s winter coat inside, and signed “helper” to Daddy, and proudly stated, “I helpful boy!”  (The signing made it so much clearer to Daddy, so that he could affirm this value in his son.)
  10. We always signed “dirty” when we changed the kids’ diapers. It is such an expressive sign, and fun for when the child is dirty or when referring to the trash, as well. When MJ was 15 mos, we snapped a picture of him signing “dirty” as he played in the dirt on vacation, covered in it!

Bonus: My Mom (MJ’s Beffa) recalls a time when MJ had just started walking (12 mos), and he was circling around their dining table signing “eat”. She knew just what to do!

  • Check this EASY, FREE reference out. It’s my friend Lila showing you the signs: Baby Sign Language site
  • If you’re wanting a more complicated word for your super-advanced child like “deciduous” or “nocturnal”, here’s another free/ easy site: ASL Browser for more words/ signs
  • Also, I put together a video “playlist” of songs/ signs for you on my YouTube channel – more to come, but these will get you started. Remember, anytime you connect learning with touch/movement, play, repetition, and MUSIC, the brain connections become much stronger! Songs for your Family.
  • See my “Top 10 Reasons to Sign with Your child
  • Interested in one of the CD’s I made for the seminar? Interested in getting me to present a seminar for your group?Contact me at

1,2,3, Touch Another Tree!…I love to play this simple game and sing the Mr. Roger’s “Tree, Tree, Tree” song with the sign

MJ’s first b’day – we got this “balloon” at Luby’s…it’s another sign that just makes sense!

Here I am signing “splash” – we used this sign a lot – in the pool, in the tub, in puddles – it’s a fun one!

We were in Chicago at Millennium park when MJ and I shared this apple, and he signed “apple” for the first time…

Admittedly, not as much signing (or picture-taking) happened with the 2nd child. Hands were often full, but I adapted and just used 1 hand. Ellie was like most girls in that her speech developed at a quicker pace than her brother’s had, so we did not need the sign language to bridge as wide of a gap between pre-speech and decipherable speech. But I believe the effort I put into it still payed off. When she was 4 months old and I signed “light”  of “fan”, she would look up at the ceiling, so I was encouraged to keep up the talking and teaching, even in my sleep-deprived state. Signing doesn’t have to be perfect or even correct, just consistent. As with any experience, you get out of it what you put into it.  But don’t overlook it! Baby signing is a FREE, “HANDY” educational resource that is always with you – You don’t even have to register for it at Babies R’ Us, remember to load it in the diaper bag, or plug it in to charge! It goes wherever you go, it can fit into any activity you are engaged in with your child, AND it strengthens their connection to YOU, their favorite person and “toy” in the universe!  (I would argue that it’s even better than an iPad 😉 Let me know what you think…


  1. GareBear says:

    I enjoyed reading and reflecting on these great memories. Of course, I love the GareBear sign.