When to Start Baby Sign Language – Is 3 Months Too Early?

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’ve already familiarized yourself with the perks of baby sign language. From providing an excellent communication tool for tots to creating an opportunity for baby and parent to bond, benefits of baby sign language abound. 

The only question left to answer is when to start baby sign language. In other words, when is a child too young to start learning baby sign language? In this post, we aim to provide detailed answers to these and more questions. 

Guide For When To Start Baby Sign Language

How early can you start using baby sign? Though many parents are desperate for a straightforward answer, this question doesn’t have one.  I have had many parents ask me if 3 months is too early for their baby to start learning baby sign.

Here’s the thing, babies grow and develop at different rates. The ability to learn something new also differs from one child to another. It means that while one baby can start picking up signs as soon as they reach the half-year mark, others won’t be able to understand sign language until they’re 7 months or older.  

Here are a few facts that you can work with…

  • The majority of babies are able to sign back when they’re between 8 and 12 months (10 months is the average)
  • Some babies can learn to sign back as early as 5 or 6 months
  • Other tots might not be able to sign back until they’re one-year-old (so don’t pressure your child)

Starting Baby Sign Language For:

0 to 6-month old 

If you’ve noticed that your child learns new things quite fast, then you can decide to start teaching them a few signs as early as you can. Essentially, you don’t have to wait until they reach 6 months. 

That said, you should keep in mind that babies don’t usually start signing this early. While you can kickstart the training by signing consistently, it might be a few months before your baby can sign back (and that’s totally ok).

Another thing to note is that even though your baby won’t have developed the hand-eye coordination to sign back, they might respond to your signs in different ways. 

If you’re consistent with signing on your part, your baby will learn to relate the sign to the word. Just because they can’t sign back doesn’t mean they don’t understand. 

Lastly, take your baby’s vision into consideration. At this age, your baby’s vision hasn’t developed fully. 

The farthest they can see is within a foot. It means that if you’re signing from far, they’re not going to see you. If you’re going to start signing to your child this early, then ensure that you’re always close enough. 

6 to 12-month old

With each month of your baby’s first year, comes a new and exciting developmental milestone. 

When they’re between 5 and 7 months, one particular milestone they’ll cross is the ability to sit up on their own. This will free up their hands and arms, enabling them to reach for things, and grasp them. 

It’s around this time that they’ll start clapping and lifting their arms whenever they want to be picked up or held. All these actions mean one thing- that they’re ready to start learning how to sign!

Obviously, a 6-month old won’t learn at the same pace as an 8- or 9-month old. But if they’re in this age range, they’re suitable candidates for training baby sign language. 

Start practicing using these 5 signs for baby sign language.

Conclusion

If you’ve been wondering when to start baby sign language, the answer is as soon as you can. If your 5-month toddler has started using their hands to gesture, this is a sign that they can learn a few signs as well.

Should you decide to teach them from an early age, don’t expect them to fully comprehend these signs immediately. You’ll likely have to sign for a couple of weeks or months before they learn to sign back. 

If you are wondering what to buy to get you started, a deck of cards with baby sign language images is a great idea.

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