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Laura Berg is the founder of Smart Hands Baby Sign Language in Toronto, Canada and a certified teacher with degrees in Sociology, Child Studies, and a Master's degree in Education. Upon welcoming a newborn of her own, came the realization for the possibilities of sign language boosting her daughter's cognitive development.


Laura Berg


MJ Williams received her Master's in Linguistics of American Sign Language and discovered a fascination with how deaf babies can sign sooner than hearing babies can speak. She is a strong proponent of having your baby start a conversation with you!


MJ Williams

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Dear Mama Signs - Part 3

Click here if you have a question for Mama Signs! Have a baby signing question?



Dear Mama Signs,

If you don't mind me asking. At what age did you start teaching your daughter? I know that I want to teach my daughters but I really don't know when to start. My youngest daughter is only 3 months old. My oldest is 6 years old and she only knows about 20 signs.

Mama Signs Says

I started when my daughter was 4 months old but she didn't start signing until she was 9.5 months. The important thing is to keep it up. It is great that you have an older daughter because you will probably find that she will be very interested in teaching the baby new signs. She will learn them with you and the baby!

Mama Signs


Dear Mama Signs,

im just curious. is it as simple as showing the object and then the sign?

Mama Signs Says

Yes, basically. When you teach a baby sign language it is different than teaching them the full ASL. You are not teaching a baby all of the grammar and syntax of the language. So what you would do is show a baby something and then sign and say the word. When signing with hearing babies you should always talk and sign. I am also an advocate for signing with Deaf babies but that is different than signing with hearing babies. The important thing is to be consistent with babies, whenever you say the word, you make the sign.

Mama Signs


Dear Mama Signs,

Hi how are u? Im just woundering how many months does the baby need to have to show them ASL and also y do u show her ASL and shes very smart and adorable Please write back

Mama Signs Says

It all depends on the baby and how often you sign to them as far as how fast they will pick up signs. I started signing with my daughter when she was 4 months and she started signing back at 9.5 months. If you sign every day with them then they are going to pick it up fairly quickly. It is just important to know, that just like talking, they aren't going to do it right away. But it is worth keeping it up. My daughter is now almost two and she is talking up a storm, we can have a full conversation with her but we are still signing with her because she likes it.

And yes, we are using ASL with her.

Thanks for you message,
Mama Signs


Dear Mama Signs,

Hello...I just had a few questions for you regarding teaching baby sign language. I have an 11 week old daughter and am also a nanny to a 9 month old little boy with downs syndrome. I have begun teaching him baby signs (we have been doing it for about a month now) and so far he has learned the signs for "Milk" "Dog" and "All Done."

We have started using the DVD/CD series called "Baby Signing Time" have you heard of this series and did you use them with your daughter? Also, what book series do you recommend for teaching the signs, as I know there are many variations out there?

Also, most importantly, at what age did you begin teaching your daughter baby signs? I would LOVE to teach signs to my daughter, but am unsure at what age to start. I look forward to any insight/advice you can give me! Thanx in advance!



Mama Signs Says

Hi Katie,

It sounds like you have your hands full! I have heard of Signing Time and they are good. I usually recommend those DVD's to people with toddlers who were signing babies. I would get any resources that are 100% ASL, I really don't recommend 'making-up' signs because babies can sign ASL signs easily. Plus why not teach babies a real language! :)

I started signing with my daughter when she was 4 months old but she didn't sign back until 9.5 months. You can really start whenever you want but be sure to be patient...she isn't going to sign back to you right away.

What usually ends up happening is that parents start signing when their babies are too young and then they get discouraged because their babies aren't signing back and they stop signing with them. So the answer is sign with her whenever you want...just don't stop :)

Some good books are:
Sign with your Baby by Dr. Garcia
Baby Sign Language Basics (Hay House Lifestyles) by Monta Briant
Teach Your Tot to Sign: The Parents' Guide to American Sign Language by Stacy A. Thompson and Valerie Nelson-Metlay

Let me/us know if you have anymore questions.
Mama Signs


Dear Mama Signs,

hi my name is dana and i really love what you do with your baby she is very smart and beautiful i have an 18month old little girl and she talks a little but not alot i do flash cards with her and all and i have learned alot of signs over the past couple days i bought some books and flash cards but it dosnt seem like she is listening do you think it is to late?her being 18months and all and if not can you give me some tips on when to do flash cards i see your daughter was in a high chair one time and when did you start working with her im sure she was very young and do you know any activitys that i can do to interest her more im just very new at it and i need a little help so if you can please write back thank you

Mama Signs Says

Hi Dana,

It's not too late to start signing with your daughter. She may not know what you are doing right now if you are just starting to introduce signs with her. My daughter liked to play with the flashcards so we would just show her the signs as she looked at them. We didn't 'quiz' her with them. You'll want to find things she is interested in, these are called 'motivational' signs. What type of foods does she like, what toys does she like? Use those signs to get her to see and understand what you are doing. Once she realizes that you are putting a sign to a word she will start picking them up more and more.

You can also start with mommy and daddy signs, have your husband or someone be with your daughter and ask 'where's mommy' and make the sign at the same time. Ask her a couple of times and then you come in the room and say 'here's mommy' and make the sign for mommy. You can also take her hand and make the sign on her body so that she'll understand how it feels to make the sign.

Just remember that this is new for her and she may not get it right away but if you are consistent she will pick it up. My daughter is now almost two and she still loves learning new signs, even more now than before.

Let me know if you have any more questions :)
Mama Signs



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