Signs Demonstrated by Our Baby


Our daughter has demonstrated the following signs so far (I put a * next to the signs that she's only made a few times so far, noted the signs that are not based on ASL signs, and left off obvious "yes" and "no" head shaking and nodding). I believe we started showing her signs when she was around 6 or 7 months old. Her first real gesturing started at about 9 1/3 months old, when she shook her head "no". Since her motor skills were still developing, some of the signs look the same or similar. However, like the early words that a baby babbles (often can only be understood by the parent), it's easy to tell the signs apart by context. She doesn't seem to like to do "signing performances" when strangers hear that she's signing and ask her to show them some signs. She signs in a natural way, when actually trying to communicate or share something she sees.

Individual signs

  1. Fan (about 9 1/2 M)
    Rotates pointer finger in circles
  2. Bird (about 9 1/2 M) (non-ASL)
    Flaps arms
  3. Milk (first time 10 M, consistent by 10 1/2 M)
    Opens/closes fist
  4. Hear (10 M)
    Puts hand to ear for plane, phone ringing ,etc. Later on, she would make this sign for things that she remembered made noise, but weren't making noise at the time, like the blender or coffee grinder.
  5. Light (11 M first recorded, but it was earlier - I didn't recognize the sign!)
    Fist opens/closes at or below mouth
  6. Stretch (11 2/3 M) (non-ASL)
    Stretches both arms up over head. We do this one first thing in the morning!
  7. Fish (11 2/3 M)
    Arm waves horizontally, making "f" sound
  8. Shower (11 2/3 M)
    Fist opens/closes with arm up over head
  9. Tree (11 3/4 M)
    Hand in air with wrist twisting
  10. Airplane (11 3/4 M)
    Moves arm in air up over head horizontally, making "f" or "v" sound
  11. Dog (12 M)
    Slaps leg a few times. ASL includes an additional finger snap, which is too difficult for a baby this age.
  12. Hat (12 1/4 M)
    Pats headő
  13. Moon (12 1/4 M)
    Holds one arm straight over her head. Originally, she made this sign for any crescent shape, then later made it for a full moon as well. At first, she also made this sign when she saw a picture of a rainbow (arch).
  14. Cat (about 12 1/2 M)
    Rubs hand across cheek or mouth like "whiskers"
  15. Hair (about 12 1/2 M)
    Grabs piece of hair
  16. Baby (about 12 1/2 M)
    Crosses arms in front, or swings arms back and forth at waist level (like rocking baby)
  17. Balloon (12 1/2 M)
    Puts both of her open hands to her mouth (sometimes making a blowing noise and sometimes waves her hands about afterwards. Originally, she used this in a general way to indicate anything with that shape. She made this sign for "globe" and "teapot" as well.
  18. Butterfly (12 1/2 M)
    Puts her hands together or slightly apart and opens and moves her hands
  19. Bath (12 1/2 M)
    Pats or rubs her chest with both hands
  20. Flower (12 1/2 M)
    Rubs her mouth or nose with the back of her hand
  21. Rabbit (12 1/2 M) (non-ASL)
    One arm out bouncing up and down
  22. Hot (12 1/2 M)
    Moves her open hand outward from her mouth, sometimes making a "ha" sound. She usually does this when she sees a fire (or picture of one), a vaporizer, a toaster oven, the flame on a gas stove, or anything that gives off steam (like a rice cooker). She also makes the sign when her food is warm. 
  23. Rain (about 12 1/2 M)
    With both arms out in front, hands face downward, she moves her arms up and down
  24. Elephant (12 3/4 M) (non-ASL)
    Raises one (sometimes both) arm in the air and makes an "ah" "trumpeting" sound!
  25. Fire (12 3/4 M)
    Wiggles fingers of both hands in the air in front of her
  26. Water (12 3/4 M)
    Taps mouth with pointer finger
  27. Horse (about 12 3/4 M)
    Pointer finger points to the upper side of the head or she places her hand there. She started doing this when I started to sing "Old MacDonald".
  28. Cow (about 12 3/4 M)
    It's sometimes unclear whether she distinguishes between "horse" and "cow". She started doing this sign as well when I started to sing "Old MacDonald". When she saw a cow in a book she made a sign that looked like the "horse" sign. Eventually though, she started putting both hands on the top of her head for "cow".
  29. Penguin (about 12 3/4 M)
    Straightens her arms held down and slightly in back of her
  30. Banana (about 12 4/5 M)
    Moves other hand around raised pointer finger
  31. More (about 12 4/5 M)
    Originally, tapped her pointer finger on the palm of her other hand. Later, either uses her original sign, but also sometimes taps tips of fingers or fists together.
  32. Sun (13 M)
    Draws a circle in the air with her finger
  33. Bear (about 13 1/8 M)
    Holds hands up to chest and sort of makes a scratching motion
  34. Sheep (about 13 1/4 M)
    One hand swinging and rubbing the back of the hand and wrist of the other one
  35. Pumpkin (about 13 1/4 M)
    One hand sort of brushing the other hand
  36. Up (about 13 1/4 M)
    Holds one hand out and bounces it up and down, sometimes holding up pointer finger (Looks like her "rabbit" sign, but does it in the context of wanting to be picked up!)
  37. Towel (about 13 1/4 M)
    Waves both hands out to her sides
  38. Book (13 1/2 M)
    Rubs palms together
  39. Star (13 1/2 M)
    Raised pointer finger rubs against fingers of the other hand
  40. Spider (13 1/2 M)
    Puts her hands slightly apart and opens and moves her hands, like sign for "butterfly"
  41. Eat (13 1/2 M)
    Taps finger on or in mouth
  42. Seal (13 1/2 M)
    Claps hands
  43. Ball (about 13 1/2 M)
    Puts palms of hands together
  44. Apple (about 13 1/2 M)
    Flicks her hand around the side of her mouth
  45. All done (13 2/3 M)
    Waves both hands up in the air (with bent arms)
  46. Shoes (13 2/3 M)
    Originally, hit her fist against other her open palm. Later, taps fists together.
  47. Rainbow (13 2/3 M)
    Claps hands or touches palms together then moves one palm out to the side
  48. Truck (13 2/3 M)
    Originally, hit her fist against other her open palm. Later, taps fists together, like sign for "shoes".
  49. Mouse (13 2/3 M)
    Taps her pointer finger against the side of her face
  50. Socks (13 2/3 M)
    Raised pointer finger rubs against fingers of the other hand, like sign for "star"
  51. Cheese (13 2/3 M)
    Rubs palms together
  52. Wind (about 13 2/3 M)
    Waves both hands around making a "vvvvvv" sound
  53. Snow (about 13 2/3 M)
    Initially she uses the same sign as the sign for "rain"
  54. Alligator (13 4/5 M)
    Claps hands
  55. Chicken(13 4/5 M)
    Puts pointer finger in mouth and sort of makes chomping motion. This looks very different than the correct sign, but she's consistent. I don't know if it's based on "eat" because she eats chicken or whether it's a crude version of the real sign.
  56. Duck (13 4/5 M)
    Initially, she makes the same sign as for "chicken"
  57. Brush teeth (13 4/5 M)
    Rubs her fist back and forth to the side of her mouth
  58. Toilet/Going potty/poop (13 4/5 M)
    Waves fist side to side
  59. Music (13 4/5 M)
    Waves open hand horizontally back and forth. She asked for music often, like when we get into the car.
  60. Coat (13 4/5 M)
    Taps both fists against collarbone area. She usually asks for her coat whenever we say we're going for a walk or in the car.
  61. Car (13 4/5 M)
    Holds both hands out to sides and bounces hands a bit
  62. Bow (13 4/5 M) (non-ASL)
    Pats her head to indicate a hair bow
  63. Blanket (13 9/10 M)
    Moves both fists up and down the front of her body
  64. Grapes (14 M)
    Taps her hand to her opposite wrist
  65. Change (14 M)
    Hits her fist against other her open palm, like sign for "shoes" and "truck" or something taps hand to opposite wrist like the sign for "grape". She seems to associate the word with the sign and makes the sign on the changing table.
  66. Snake (14 M)
    Waves her arms in front of her horizontally making a "ssss" or "vvvv" sound. The sign looks like "airplane", so context will matter.
  67. Bee (14 M)
    Swats hand in front of her mouth
  68. Piano (14 M)
    Looked the same as the sign for "grapes". I think she might have just been making the sign for "sit", telling us that she wants to sit on the piano bench. Later, she started making the real sign for piano, waving both hands back and forth horizontally.
  69. Lion (14 M)
    Waves her hand back and forth above her head
  70. Help (14 M)
    Taps her chest with both fists.
  71. Boat (14 M)
    Puts palms together and bounces hands
  72. Siren (about 14 1/4 M)
    Waves both hands in the air
  73. Bed/Nap/Sleep (about 14 1/4 M)
    Leans head to one side. Sometimes puts open hand perpendicular to her ear as well.
  74. Sit (about 14 1/3 M)
    Taps pointer finger to back of opposite hand
  75. Heart (14 1/3 M)
    Pats both hands to chest
  76. Ladybug or just bug(14 1/3 M, first recorded.but made the sign earlier)
    Used to make sign on top of her head rather than her nose. When I tried to correct her by showing her the right way to do it, she changed her sign to shoving one or both fingers up her nose! Ack! Lately though, she started to go back to her previous version of the sign.
  77. Where? (14 2/5 M)
    Waves her finger back and forth in front of her face
  78. Glasses (14 2/5 M)
    Initially rubbed hand across cheek or mouth like the sign for "cat". Later would rub both eyes with fists.
  79. Red (14 2/5 M)
    Drags pointer finger down chin
  80. Shirt (14 2/5 M)
    Tugs on shirt
  81. Vacuum (14 3/5 M)
    Rubs one open palm against the other open palm
  82. Grass (14 3/5 M)
    Taps open palm against mouth or chin, sometimes with curled fingers.
  83. Frog (14 4/5 M)
    Open and closes fingers near the chin
  84. Cold (about 15 M)
    Shakes both fists with bent elbows
  85. Pasta (about 15 M)
    Waves pointer fingers in air in front of her.
  86. Play (15 1/10 M)
    Holds hands with flat palms or fists out to sides and bounces hands a bit, like the sign for "car". She makes this sign when the dogs are playing.
  87. Hurt (15 1/10 M)
    Taps pointer fingers together, She hasn't used "hurt" when she herself has been hurt, but has used it when I say I've hurt myself.
  88. Giraffe (about 15 1/4 M)
    Rubs her hand or fingers up and down her neck
  89. Squirrel (about 15 1/4 M)
    Taps her fists or claps her hands, usually in front of her face
  90. Pig (about 15 1/4 M)
    Opens and closes hand near the chin
  91. Lemon (about 15 1/3 M)
    Taps mouth or chin with "L" shaped hand.
  92. Octopus (about 15 1/3 M)
    Sort of wiggled the finger of one hand while putting the other hand on that arm.
  93. Computer (about 15 1/3 M)
    Rubs one hand along the other arm
  94. Drums (about 15 1/3 M) (non-ASL?)
    Bends and unbends arms at the elbow while making "bum" "bum" "bum" type noises
  95. Comb and brush (about 15 1/3 M)
    Runs hand along hair top to bottom
  96. Pear (about 15 2/5 M)
    Puts fingers of one hand over fist of the other and then pulls them away
  97. Break (about 15 2/5 M)
    Puts fists together and then pulls them apart
  98. Quiet (15 1/2 M) *
    Puts pointer fingers to lips and then down and out to the side
  99. Diaper (15 1/2 M) (non-ASL?) *
    Pats her bottom or the front of her pants
  100. Tissue (15 1/2 M) (non-ASL)
    Touches her nose with her finger then wrinkles her nose and snifs. She made this one up.
  101. Earmuffs (about 15 1/2 M) (non-ASL)
    Pats both of her ears. She made this one up.
  102. Train (15 3/5 M)
    Rub fingers of one hand along the fingers of the other
  103. Warm (15 3/5 M)
    Moves her open hand outward from her mouth. Same as "hot" without the "ha" sound.
  104. Thank you (15 2/3 M)
    Touches mouth then extends arm out and down
  105. Hammer (15 2/3 M)
    Claps hands together and makes "buh buh buh" sound. She'll usually point out the window right after doing the sign to indicate that she usually hears the sound from outside.
  106. Monkey (15 4/5 M)
    Curls hands down around her back and makes "ah ah ah" sounds (later "ee ee ee")
  107. Drink or Cup (15 4/5 M) *
    Put back of hand to mouth and opens it
  108. Yellow (15 4/5 M)
    Shakes closed fist in air with thumb out
  109. Bicycle (15 4/5 M)
    Shakes both fists out in front of her (next to each other, sort of alternating)
  110. Cry (15 4/5 M)
    Drags a finger or two down her face
  111. Binoculars (15 4/5 M) *
    Rubs eyes with hands
  112. Big (16 M)
    Open arms wide apart
  113. Small (16 M)
    Put hands close together
  114. Crab (16 M)
    Opens and closes thumb and finger fingers
  115. Boy (16 M)
    Touches hands to top center head (like holding a baseball cap)
  116. Tiger (about 16 M)
    Drags both hands outward across face
  117. Pineapple (about 16 M)
    Twist her pointer finger tips into her cheek
  118. Fruit (about 16 M) *
    Rotates hands beside the mouth with fingers spread
  119. Tomato (about 16 M) *
    Taps wrist with opposite hand
  120. Cloud (about 16 M)
    Waves both hands around over head
  121. Corn (16 1/3 M)
    Waves both hands out to sides of mouth
  122. Ice cream (16 1/3 M)
    Moves fist up and down out in front of head
  123. Beans (16 1/3 M,)
    Rubs fingertips with opposite hand's pointer finger
  124. Carrot (16 1/3 M)
    Rubs fist next to mouth
  125. Strawberry (16 1/3 M)
    Moves hand to mouth and out again
  126. Cauliflower (16 1/3 M)
    Taps side of head with side of hand
  127. Lettuce (16 1/3 M)
    Taps side of head with "L" shaped hand
  128. Peas (16 1/3 M)
    Taps pointer finger with opposite hand's pointer finger
  129. Motorcycle (non-ASL) (about 16 1/2 M)
    Makes same sign as bicycle but with "oooo" or "mmm" noises
  130. Gorilla (about 16 1/2 M)
    Beats chest with fists and makes sounds like "oooooo"
  131. Rooster (16 1/2 M)
    Taps forehead with thumb or side of hand
  132. Owl (16 1/2 M)
    Rubs both eyes with fists
  133. Children (16 2/3 M)
    Waves both hands out to side like patting children on the head
  134. Zebra (16 2/3 M)
    Drags hands across chest or stomach outward
  135. Cake (16 4/5 M)
    Claps hands together several times
  136. Blue (17 M)
    Rotates wrist with open hand in front of her
  137. Happy (17 M)
    Taps her chest or neck with her hand and extends outwards
  138. Gentle (~17M)
    Rubs one hand along top of other wrist
  139. Bus (~17M)
    Taps side of open palm to opposite wrist, saying "bah"
  140. Orange (17 1/5 M)
    Open and closes one fist near mouth
  141. Please (17 1/5 M)
    Rubs open hand on chest or tummy
  142. Shrimp (17 3/10 M)
    Holding up pointer finger, bounces hand up and down and moves across in front of body
  143. Pink (17 3/10 M)
    Same as red right now. Flicks lips with pointer finger.
  144. White (17 1/3 M)
    Using one hand, pinches front of shirt and extends outwards.
  145. Shave (17 1/3 M)
    Rubs side of face
  146. Cantaloupe (17 2/3 M)
    Taps top of hand with other hand
  147. Turtle (17 2/3 M)
    Wiggles pointer finger of one hand under other hand
  148. Green (17 4/5 M)
    Rotates wrist of hand while holding out at least the pointer finger
  149. Frustrated (17 4/5 M)
    Taps forehead with hand
  150. Mix (17 9/10 M) *
    Rotates hands in air in front of body
  151. One Minute (17 9/10 M)
    Rubs pointer finger against other palm
  152. Stop (17 9/10 M)
    Taps side of open hand against other hand
  153. Sorry (17 9/10 M)
    Rubs fist against chest
  154. I Don't Know (17 9/10 M)
    Shrugs shoulders and holds out open palms
  155. Brown (18 1/5 M)
    Rubs side of face
  156. Black (18 1/5 M)
    Strokes finger across forehead
  157. Goat (18 1/3 M)
    Tries to make V with fingers and opens and close hand at forehead
  158. Nut (18 1/3 M) *
    Flicks front teeth with thumb or pointer finger
  159. Lizard (18 1/3 M) *
    Tries to make L with fingers and taps other wrist or hand
  160. Candy (18 1/3 M) *
    Twists pointer finger into cheek
  161. Cucumber(18 1/3 M) *
    Uses pointer finger of one hand to "slice" side of other fist
  162. Stroller (18 1/2 M) (non-ASL)
    Lifts one hand up and then the other, an exaggerated sign for car or driving. She made this sign up.
  163. Want (18 1/2 M)
    With palms up, pulls arms towards her body while closing fists.
  164. Peach (19 M)
    Grabs cheek lightly with one hand several times
  165. Roll (19 1/2 M)
    Rolls bent arms one over the other
  166. Brown (19 1/2 M)
    Rubs side of face
  167. Fox (20 1/3 M)
    Makes "ok" sign and moves it back and forth in front of nose
  168. Push (20 2/3 M)
    Makes natural pushing motion
  169. Wolf (21 M)
    Closes hand over nose and draws it out away from face
  170. Friend (21 M)
    Taps forefingers together while twisting hands
  171. Juice (21 M)
    Twists fist in the air
  172. Helicopter (21 1/2 M)
    Wiggles flat palm on top of other hand's pointer finger
  173. Guitar (22 M)
    Strums imaginary guitar
  174. Time out (23 1/3 M)
    Taps pointer finger of one hand to the underside of the flattened palm of the other hand

Sign "phrases" and Mixed Word/Sign "phrases". Here are some examples:

  1. Hear Airplane, Hear Phone, Hear Dog etc. (started about 11 2/3 M or so)
    Initially both words signed
  2. More Music, More Book, etc. (started about 13 1/2 M maybe earlier)
    Initially both words signed
  3. Elephant More Hear (13 4/5 M)
    She has a rocking elephant toy that plays music. When it came to a stop she signed all three words of this sentence.
  4. Dada Car (Dada spoken) (about 14 M)
    She speaks the word Dada then signs "car" many times a day. Every day I would tell her that Dad went to work in the car.
  5. Help Sit (about 14 2/3 M)
    She asked me to put her on my swiveling desk chair.
  6. Sit Bear (about 14 4/5 M)
    She was pointing to her teddy bear sitting on her little rocking chair
  7. Shower Water Hair (about 15 M)
    When I told her I was going to shower, it seemed she was referring to me washing my hair
  8. Change Baby (15 M)
    She saw a baby having its diaper changed.
  9. Lemon Tree (15 3/5 M)
    We have a lemon tree in our back yard and she likes to pick and sniff the lemons. Sometimes she adds a sniffing sound after signing Lemon Tree.
  10. Small Spider (17 M)
    She saw a tiny spider in our bathroom. After signing this phrase, she waved and said "hi" to the spider then siad "bye bye" when we left the room
  11. Truck Red (17 M)
    She saw a red truck outside our car
  12. Book Elephant (about 17 1/10 M)
    She started naming particular books she wants to read


Back to Top

Back to Baby Signing Page

Back to Audra Lemke's Home Page

Copyright 2003 Audra D. Lemke
Last revised: 10/27/03.