Can I Teach My Toddler Sign Language?

October 17

toddler sign language - thismomsdelight


Can I Teach My Toddler Sign Language?

My son is 22 months old and is trying to tell me something! He talks and raises his hands in frustration when I just don’t get what he’s saying. He has a few words that I know what they are. Maa (mom), Daa (dad), baa (ball), and ow (outside) are the extent of his vocabulary, if you don’t count all the sounds that don’t make any sense to me.

We had his hearing tested a few months ago and the pediatrician doesn’t want to see him again until he’s two years old. I’m concerned that he’s trying to talk but the words are not forming properly.

I’m researching the causes on my own. I’m praying as I do the research. Part of me thinks I should just let it be until his two year check up, but I can’t. He’s frustrated. He wants to tell us what’s on his mind and we can’t comprehend.

So, my solution until I found out why he can’t form words is to teach him a little sign language. I found two books on Paperbackswap.  I am looking forward to learning some basic words with my son.

The first book I’ve discovered is Brainy Baby Talking Hands: Discovering Sign Language. It’s a board book and I’ve already received it, so my little guy and I have already read through the book. He loves board books, so I believe this is an excellent purchase.

I also have placed and order with Paperbackswap credits for Baby Signs. It’s a paperback book for mommy and daddy to read.

I have decided to start with just three words: mom, dad and more. Every online article I’ve read has suggested these three (and others).

Have you taught your baby or toddler sign language? What was your experience?


  • Reply
    October 17 at 3:49 pm

    My son had recurring ear aches and would get frustrated as well. I started getting the Baby Signing Time videos from the library then streaming them through Amazon. They are $1.99 for a week. This is much cheaper than buying them! I got other videos from the library and tons of books but this was the best! He picked up on it so quickly and so did I. It makes a HUGE difference to them and you.

    We had ear tubes put in a year ago and his talking has overtaken his signing. But he still uses it some. My 9 yo also liked the videos. Now I sign “I Love you” to her when I drop her off at school. Apparently it’s less embarrassing!

  • Reply
    October 17 at 3:55 pm

    I also wanted to tell you that the woman who created it has an amazing story. You can watch her talk about it on Youtube. Definitely worth looking up.

  • Reply
    October 17 at 10:38 pm

    I really like the Baby Signs book. I’ve never seen the Talking Hands book. I can’t remember what children’s book we used for sign language. I’ll look it up and let you know. You can also find free flashcards online. Good luck and have fun!

  • Reply
    Michele Ash
    October 18 at 6:57 pm

    I understand how you feel when you believe your child is frustrated and can’t tell you. Is he an only child at the moment? I know that they say boys learn slower than girls, however, I don’t believe that at all. I know my husband didn’t speak a word until he was 2 years old. He just pointed to things. After the birth of my granddaughter, they gave her a hearing test (she was only about 2-3 weeks old!) and they told my daughter that Scarlett appeared to be deaf in one ear! My question to them is How can they tell? It doesn’t hurt to teach your son some sign language until you can know for absolutely sure what’s going on with him. Good luck with teaching him a few words to get you through until you know for sure! Good Luck! Thanks, Michele 🙂

  • Reply
    October 19 at 12:50 pm

    I had two children, one spoke early and fluently and was followed by another who said practically nothing until well past his second birthday (when he did speak it was fluent within weeks) Children develop at different rates and sign language may ease the path for your little one until he is able to verbalise more.

  • Reply
    October 20 at 12:44 am

    Somebody gave me the book on baby sign language but I didn’t really use it. I made up my own actions for some stuff e.g. rain (move my hands down). Now he can say a few words e.g. “car!” things are getting better and he’s very good at pointing and grunting!

  • Reply
    Heather Swarthout
    October 20 at 9:17 am

    I have considered in the past teaching my daughter sign language but I never did. I guess I was super intimidated by it and not very confident that I would do it right. Plus, I have never learned sign language. It doesn’t look too difficult but you never know! This is a great set of books though, really!

  • Reply
    October 20 at 8:52 pm

    Hey there! I just wanted to leave a comment to see if you have checked into First Steps or another early intervention program for your son? It’s usually free.
    I did some signing with my guys when they were little. It was precious. 🙂

  • Reply
    Cheshire Cat
    October 20 at 11:30 pm

    kids are so smart, my son isn’t a big talker either but has started using sign language for the really important things he chooses not to say (he can speak paragraphs, I’ve heard it)

  • Reply
    October 22 at 4:08 am

    Great idea! I’ve known of people who have taught their kids a little sign language or a lot with no regrets. I think the one mom who taught her son a whole lot just regretted how much she taught him just because it seemed he didn’t want to speak when he was finally able to and just wanted to sign. 🙂 My son definitely didn’t say nearly as much until he was older than 2. I know some parents whose children didn’t say much until 3 and even 4! When the 4 year old started speaking it was complete sentences. Go figure! I will say that seeing what other children are doing and what our own older children might have done earlier can sometimes actually make us so anxious about our kids hitting milestones especially ones like talking. I’m sure your boy is just fine and will begin speaking when he should. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this with us at the Creative Style Linkup!

    • Reply
      November 1 at 10:02 pm

      @Brittnei ~ I haven’t started teaching the sign language to my son just yet. In the past week, we’ve caught him saying “I got it!” It’s more like “Igahih”, but we get it! I’m going to teach him a few words, but I am not as worrisome about his speech (or lack of it) as I was. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Reply
    Michelle - The Happiness Blogger
    October 22 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party! Your post has been pinned to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board 🙂

  • Reply
    December 6 at 7:32 pm

    I used Baby Signs when my daughter was tiny. It was so helpful to help her communicate to us before she could talk. Now when she’s frustrated and can’t get the words out, she still uses some of the signs. I have even considered teaching her a few more!

  • Reply
    Angie B.
    December 6 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve heard about this but never tried it with my kids. My daughter is 20 months. She know some words and I try to encourage her to use her words more. Even if they aren’t exactly right

  • Reply
    susan quackenbush
    December 6 at 9:15 pm

    What a great product. I want my grandkids to learn sign language as I learned it when I was young. My son did not start forming words until age 2.5. I think some kids just develop volcabulary at different ages. I will go check out Paperbackswap as I am a book addict!!

  • Reply
    December 8 at 7:55 am

    I’m trying to teach it to my 6 year old and learn it myself!

  • Reply
    Angie Scheie
    December 10 at 12:03 am

    I love this idea. Good luck with it!

  • Reply
    January 20 at 7:02 am

    Language development is so important. Teaching him sign while saying the words will help to reinforce the brain pathways in both. Also, speak to him with rich vocabulary. He understands more than he can say and/or sign. If you feel that he is behind verbally, I would suggest that you speak to your pediatrician. There are early intervention services that can be very helpful. There may be mouth and tongue exercises that they can suggest to help develop the muscles to support his speech.
    Getting intervention early benefits children and helps to close the gap at a younger age. One of my sons had speech issues as a toddler. He graduated from college, suma cum laude, and works in the court system doing legal research. He is smart and verbal. I’m telling you this as a parent who has been there and to encourage you.

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