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Baby Basics

How To Teach Baby Sign Language

Decoding baby’s babbles — and cries — isn’t easy. Whether your little wants milk, sleep or just mommy’s attention, it can all sound an awful lot alike! These easy-to-teach (and learn!) signs can take the guesswork out of reading baby’s mind.
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1. Diaper

Yeah, we know — you could always take a whiff. But wouldn’t it be better if baby could just tell you about that dirty diaper? Get a head start on potty training by teaching him to let you know when he needs a quick change.

How to teach it:  Tap your middle and index finger to your thumb at hip level, right where your diaper would be.
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2. Music

Before bedtime, at naptime or even during playtime, music can help soothe baby — especially when it’s paired with some one-on-one cuddle time. Score!

How to teach it: Bend your arm at the elbow and wave your free hand back and forth (like your conducting the music).
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3. Sleep

We all need our Zzzzs — and baby most of all! After all, a refreshed baby makes for a happy mama!

How to teach it: Take your dominant hand and clasp it together in front of your face, with your fingers facing you. Start at eye-level and close your hands together at the chin.
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4. Milk

A go-to sign for mama and baby, this simple-squeeze will teach your hungry baby how to ask for what she wants (without whining).

How to teach it: Make a fist at waist-level and clench your hand together repeatedly.
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5. Help

Baby’s still learning how to communicate, so teaching him this easy way to ask for help is a must for moms.

How to teach it: Make a thumb’s up and cradle it in the palm of your other hand. Take your hand and pull it upward.
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6. Eat

Baby will use this one again and again when she starts on solids, so introduce this easy sign — a simple hand-to-mouth motion.

How to teach it: Touch your fingers to your thumb and bring your hand in close to your mouth, like you’re eating.
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7. More

More snacks? More playing? More sleep? This sign works in so many situations — so teach it to baby as early as you can!

How to teach it: Touch your fingers to your thumb on each hand. Keep them about shoulder width apart, and then bring them back together. Repeat as needed.
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8. Play

Not sure what’s on your agenda for the day? Let baby take the lead — it’s always playtime!

How to teach it: Keep your hands outstretched from your body and make a fist, keeping your thumb and pinky finger outstretched. Shake your hands outward, away from your face, so that your pinky is leading.
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9. Hurt

With this simple sign, all you need to know is where baby hurts — and then you can start fixing it.

How to teach it: Touch your index fingers together near your shoulder. Pull your index fingers in opposite directions, repeatedly.
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10. Toy

No more guesswork! If baby wants a toy, she just needs to tell point to which one.

How to teach it: Make a fist and put your thumb in between your index and middle finger. Outstretch your hands in front of you and shake them (slowly) back and forth.

Plus, More from The Bump:

How to Know What Baby Wants

25 Things to Do With Baby

Songs to Add to Baby's Playlist

By Kylie McConville