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Teach Your Baby to Talk

Teach Your Baby to Talk

Baby signing tips

Research shows babies exposed to sign language can sign five to six months before they can speak words. And it's never too late to start, says Bingham, whose children learned fastest during their second years. "I think the ‘terrible twos' have a lot to do with frustration because they can't make themselves understood," she says. Here are some tips for signing with your infant:

  1. Start with basic signs (eat, milk, more) and sign and speak at the same time, exaggerating your words and gestures.
  2. Incorporate signs into daily routines while playing, singing and reading.
  3. Speak in normal sentences, signing key words only.
  4. Start slowly and add to your repertoire (and theirs) as they grow and their interests change.
  5. Don't feel pressured or expect them to perform–make it fun and motivating.

All children develop differently, but if at any point you're concerned, talk to your doctor who may refer you to a speech pathologist. Other resources include the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association ( in the U.S, and the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (

Meet our expert:

Sara Bingham is the founder of WeeHands and the author of The Baby Signing Book. Sara completed an honors Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics at the University of Ottawa, and has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carleton University. In addition, she has earned an honors post-graduate diploma from Georgian College as a Communicative Disorders Assistant. She has been studying American Sign Language (ASL) since 1991 with the Canadian Hearing Society, the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf in Toronto and at Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario. Sara has worked with the Toronto Preschool Speech and Language Services and is an instructor within Durham College's Communicative Disorders Assistant program.

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