Quick Tip

It is important to remember that when baby first attempts to sign back, they might not have the dexterity or coordination required to produce the sign the "correct" way- and that's ok! The goal here is improved communication and reduced frustration, not perfection.

However, you are the language model so I recommend that you continue to produce the sign the "correct" way (or at least a consistent way). Be sure not to copy-sign your baby's variation of the sign!

When my boys started signing back to me, I just let them produce the signs however they wanted. I never corrected their little fingers to match my sign. I accepted their sign for what it meant to them and as they became more comfortable with the signs, they eventually made those handshape corrections on their own.


When your baby attempts to sign back, you must respond appropriately! Tell them you understand them. For example, I remember the first time my oldest son, David, made the sign for MORE. He was sitting in his high chair eating blueberries and he started clapping. At first I thought he was just clapping. When I saw his face pinch together after I clapped back with him I knew he was frustrated that I was misunderstanding him. A moment later I realized he was trying to sign MORE. I confirmed his attempt to communicate by saying, "Ohhh- you want MORE blueberries" and proceeded to feed him another handful. His eyes instantly lit up and I could see his glee from being understood at such a young age. I believe it's very empowering for our children to have that. It makes them feel important.

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