Baby Sign Language: 10 Most Important American Sign Language Signs for Babies and Toddlers

american sign language for babies, baby sign language

Baby sign language is not something I was particularly familiar with before having my first child.

However, after exploring the topic a bit I decided to teach her some signs in official American Sign Language. From what I read it made more sense to teach her some of the official ASL signs than baby sign language because it gives her a slight head start in learning ASL (which we have been exploring more now that she is 3).

My efforts were targeted to be the most useful signs for her to be able to communicate her needs and cut down on our mutual frustration. I am sure different families will decide other signs are most important for their lives to run smoothly; however, this list comprises the American Sign Language signs that I think are most useful for babies and toddlers to communicate their needs. Click on the words below to see the hand gestures for each of these signs as demonstrated on the useful website American Sign Language University.


Top 10 Most Useful Signs for Babies and Toddlers:

1) Milk

2) Hungry

3) Hurt

4) Thirsty

5) More

6) Up

7) Down

8) Please

9) Thank You

10) Mother/Father

Baby sign language resources that use American Sign Language (ASL) can be helpful:

The Baby Signing Book: Includes 450 ASL Signs for Babies and Toddlers

SIGN with your BABY ASL Quick Reference Guide – English, Spanish and American Sign Language

Brainy Baby Sign Language DVD Talking Hands Classic Edition

I hope these baby sign language signs using ASL are as useful to all of you as they have been for our family. It is such a relief when a young child can communicate their needs in a way that doesn’t involve that piercing shriek when they feel unheard.

I noticed an immediate reduction in my daughters’ frustrated outbursts when I began to really implement signing into our day to day interactions. ¬†They both picked up most of the signs surprisingly quickly from a very young age.

Which signs would be most helpful for your family?

Have you used sign language successfully with your young children? I would love to hear about your experiences!


  1. Jen

    We use signs with our nearly 2-year-old daughter who is speech delayed. It has cut down on a lot of frustration both ways for us. She is able to sign “milk” “drink” “please” “more” and a few others. We are working with speech therapy and they strongly encouraged signing for communication.

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      I’m glad y’all find sign as helpful as we do! I’ve noticed even now that my older daughter is almost 4, when she REALLY likes something she will still subconsciously sign “more” while she’s verbally asking, it’s pretty cute. She also loves helping her little sister learn signs.

  2. Carrie Ford-Coates

    This was so helpful understanding what my daughter wanted. Please and more were super useful! Great list.

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      Glad you had a good experience with signing as well!

  3. Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms

    My daughter got the “more” sign right away. Now that she talks all the time, she doesn’t use it anymore and I miss it!

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      Aww it is so bittersweet the way you realize one day that they just don’t certain things anymore.

  4. Ashley

    I’ve been looking for a concise resource on baby signs, and I just found it! Thank you for this!

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      I am so glad this was helpful for you!

  5. Kate A

    Both my kids used sign- my littlest still does, as he’s 20 months and still learning to speak. He picks up signs very quickly, and actually makes his own… he created his own sign that he uses for cake/cookie (too many family birthday parties in February led to a sweet tooth!) and another he used to use to ask us to turn on The Wiggles, hahaha.

    1. Sarah – Our Happy Imperfection

      That’s so cute, I love when they make their own connections!


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