Baby Sign Language: Communication with Your Infant

Babies love to communicate, but talking isn't always an option. That's how signing with your baby can help! What is the best time to start teaching your baby sign language? How does it impact their overall language development? And what are the best signs to use in the beginning?

View Episode Transcript

Featured Expert

Featured Segments

  • Parenting Headlines

    What are the top news headlines for new parents? We’ll comb through all the articles and discuss the main issues impacting families around the world. Have a topic you want us to discuss? Post them to our facebook page!

  • Ask Parenting Experts

    Our team of experts are here to help you throughout your parenting journey. View the experts section on our homepage and learn more them. Submit your questions through email, or through our website voicemail, and allow our experts to ease your concerns!

Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
Baby Sign Language: Communication with Your Infant

Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.


[Theme Music]

Joann Woolley : Parents often wonder, “What is my baby thinking?” What if there was a way to find out? Teaching your baby sign language can help your non-verbal baby communicate with you and make your life easier and your relationship stronger. What is baby sign language? How does it work? I'm Joann Woolley, owner at, and this is Parent Savers, episode 38.

[Theme Music/Intro]

KC Wilt : Welcome to Parent Savers, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego, I am your host, KC Wilt. Parent Savers is all about helping new parents from the baby years to the toddler years. We are so lucky to have amazing experts in our show, so shoot us an e-mail or call our hot-line and we'll get your questions answered. We also have a free app, a free newsletter, you can like us on Facebook, you can send us an e-mail, you can call our hot-line, there are so many ways to be a part of our show. Also, did you miss an episode that's been archived, or you want to keep talking to the expert once the show stops? We have a Parent Savers Club where you can download all the archived episodes, get exclusive content and so much more. So I'm a new parent myself, my son Carson just turned two, and I'm joined by three new parents here in the studio.

Johner Riehl : Yeah, I'm Johner Riehl, I'm a freelance writer and PR consultant and I'm an experienced and a new again parent, I have three boys, 5, 3 and 18 months.

Jerry Butanda : My name is Jerry Butanda, I'm 31, I'm a speech pathologist, and I'm the proud dad of one daughter, her name is London and she about to turn 2 in March.

Jessica Lamphere : Hi everyone, I'm Jessica Lamphere, I am a yoga teacher, I have a daughter named Angelica who is 13 months.

[Theme Music]

KC Wilt : Before we start today's show, here is the latest in the news. This news headline, here's what is says: “New VivoPlay Wristwatch Helps Parents Keep Track of Wayward Kids”. It's spurred on by a 4-year-old son going astray, a Norwegian man came up with a watch that talks to smartphones, dialing one of the four programmed numbers – dad, mom, uncle and so on, and so this is this new device that a child wears, and if he runs away or you can't find him, you have a tracking device on your phone, it goes through GPS first, but what do you guys think of it?

Johner Riehl : That seems like what would be one of the most useful parts of that device is being able to quickly see where they go if your kid is too far out of your sight and you don't know where they are. I'd be worried with the phone calls that my 4-year-old or 3-year-old might be just using as a walkie-talkie.

KC Wilt : That's true, but it doesn't call... the purpose of this rather than a smartphone is with a smartphone they could call people and text people, but in this one there is a button, a red button on it, and the child can push it, so for example they get taken or everything else, this is another factor of it, or they're lost, that would be the nicer way, they can push the button and they will call mom, and then they'll call dad, and will give them just enough time or whatever to give their location. But you're right, I didn't even think about it as a walkie-talkie, what do you guys think about this, is it too much? I kind of wonder about an electronic magnetic field, of the signals that my baby has on me, but I guess that would a smartphone it would be the same.

Jessica Lamphere : I think every parent needs it, I've lost my child, this isn't one of those thing where I'm like, I'm still a new parent, and this is one those things that I would definitely feel like, it would have served me really well, gush, last summer.

KC Wilt : Yeah.

Johner Riehl : Yeah, things like amusement parks, when you're going out also on like public places, a lot of people dress their kids on the same clothes, but as part of your routine just strap on this watch, that would be really cool.

Jerry Butanda : Right. And I think, not having the experience of having lost a child but think of that just one time, and I think all of the parents who have lost their child or they've been kidnapped, it is that one time, so I think this would be a great ease of mind for a parent, and I think it's a good deal.

Jessica Lamphere : Yeah, having that experience, I have a newly walking child so, thinking ahead, I think that would be really awesome, just a nice peace of mind, maybe an upgraded version of the kid leash, you know.

KC Wilt : So do you know what the old school way was? You role up your kids arm, put their phone number, like I did. During the holidays, we went to this incredibly huge event, and I took all of their pictures, and I took out a marker and I wrote my phone number on their arm. Well it's not a bad idea, especially nowadays, we're all attached to our phone, so we all have a phone attached to us to call if anything happens to them. They're hoping that with this device they actually would scare away the kidnappers, word gets out that there's watches like this, potential child snatchers would even think twice before kidnapping a kid with a weird watch on his arm, you know? I don't know, I go back and forth, 'cause I'm like, having the freedom and like calling your child home.

Jessica Lamphere :Well, thing about that KC, it's way better than putting a chip inside your child.

KC Wilt :Yeah! That's all I can think about right now. OK, you take the watch off, that's the next step.

Jessica Lamphere :And also, I also feel hesitant about giving my child a phone, so it's a step in-between that you don't have to give him your phone.

KC Wilt : Interesting, this will be, actually it was at the Consumer Electronics Show just last weekend, it looks like it will be coming to the market, so maybe they want to contact us and do a review. That would be great.

[Theme Music]

KC Wilt : Today on Parent Savers we have Joann Woolley, from, here with us to talk about baby sign language. So I'm going to start, Joann. What is the difference between baby sign language and American Sign Language, ASL?

Joann Woolley : Correct. That's a good question, because I am now trying to certify parents in becoming interpreters. That's the key difference, if you really just think about an interpreter signing an entire conversation, we're not aiming for that, we really want to give our children the tools to pinpoint the key thing that they need. But we do use ASL signs in the programs that I teach.

Johner Riehl : So what is a good time to start baby sign language with your baby?

Joann Woolley : I differ from what the parenting books out there say, I say right now. If your baby is going to be born tomorrow, start right now. If your baby is 18-months-old, and you're thinking that it's maybe too late, start right now.

Jerry Butanda : Some people think that it will hinder their language, how do you feel, does it help or does it hinder?

Joann Woolley : I personally have not seen it ever hinder the verbal language skills of the child, I have heard over and over and over from parents how it actually helps them acquire more verbal words, and my three children were like off the charts with their verbal capacity.

KC Wilt : Have you noticed any of that Jerry, as a speech therapist, with kids who come in who know sign language?

Jerry Butanda : I don't think I've ever had any students come in who now sign language, but I would definitely agree, all the research does show that it's, especially now, it isn't what language can teach my child, it's what can they do with that to happily communicate, and that's really the point. I think what a lot of people miss is they feel like “My child's not going to be able to speak”, or “They're relying on science too much now, how do I fix them?”, you know. Really the point is: they're expressing their wants and their needs now, while their oral musculature isn't mature enough to handle all the sounds for English or any other language. So I think the point we need to get away to is language can go towards more, how can I help my child effectively communicate? I think sign language is the best out there.

Joann Woolley : Exactly. I agree with that 100%. I have had occurences where I interact with a parent like in the play space, and they see that I'm signing my children, and they say, “Aww, that's cool, we tried that, it didn't work for us”, and then I have a little bit more dialogue with them and discover that their child did have a speech delay and the parent would sometimes – their child was probably 8 or 9-years-old when this conversation took place – so they weren't right now actively signing with their child, but years ago they were, so in their mind they thought that perhaps sign language is what delayed their child's speech. And, to the contrary, the research actually shows the opposite.

KC Wilt : So maybe it would have been worse they wouldn't have done this.

Joann Woolley : Right, exactly. They wouldn't have had any tools at all, the idea is to give them tools.

KC Wilt : So how soon will your baby start signing after you start implementing the sign language in the house?

Joann Woolley : It really depends on how many of the techniques you're implementing, if you're focusing on doing fun signs, you're going to get them signing a lot faster,

KC Wilt : Like cookies and...

Joann Woolley : I might stay away from cookie, 'cause than you're just going to have your child asking for cookies ten times a day.

Johner Riehl : Don't start with McDonald’s.

KC Wilt : Well I bet your first reaction is “Yes! They've made the sign for cookie!”, and then after the twentieth time like “They made the sign for cookie... And I don't want to give them cookies but I want to rewards them for signing”, you know.

Joann Woolley : Exactly, and what's another good way we can reward them?

KC Wilt : McDonald’s?

Joann Woolley : No! We can cheer them on: “I understand you! I know that you're asking for cookie!”, letting them now that you understand them in fact is a reward. It makes them feel really good to be understood, and the fact that's human nature, it feels good to be understood.

KC Wilt : How soon do you see it come about, you start signing when they are a baby.

Joann Woolley : It varies. I started signing with my children from day one, from birth, and my daughter signed at four months old. And she was my first, so I was like “Alright!”, I felt like we were doing really good. And then my son, he signed as seven months old. And I have gotten to that point when I was like “When is he going to sign? When is he going to sign?”, 'cause seven months, you're working at it. And then my third one signed at two months old.

KC Wilt : Oh my gush!

Joann Woolley : So there's a lot of variables. I will tell you honestly, with the first two children, they're 17 months apart, so you get stretched, so maybe I wasn't doing it nearly as rigorously, maybe rigorously is the wrong word. I maybe wasn't doing it with as much repetition.

Johner Riehl : Yeah, I would agree. I started signing with my daughter the first day too, and it was about three or four months, so it's been great. I'd say now she probably knows about 100 signs, she's 21-months-old.

KC Wilt : There's a point where you just lose count.

Johner Riehl : Yeah.

Joann Woolley : Yeah, absolutely.

KC Wilt : So this is different than ASL, this is just baby signs?

Joann Woolley : There is actually a trademark company that's called Baby Signs, I personally don't use their methods. Not all their signs are based on ASL. ASL is the third most widely used language in the United States and that's a fact that a lot of people are not aware of, and you're children, they enjoy it so much, they continue to use it even when they are totally verbal.

KC Wilt : So are some of these signs that you use or that you think we should teach our children, are they actual... you said they may or may not be ASL signs?

Joann Woolley : So the Baby Signs trademark is not always using ASL, but the signs that I teach in my class, since my mom is deaf, are ASL based.

KC Wilt : How fluent do you think anyone should be able to be. So like I've taught my child basic signs – “please”, “more”, “thank you”, maybe “water”, I got that far, and that all helped. But than I go over to my friend's house and her daughter goes “fan”, and “bear”, and a part of me feels like, “Well, he doesn't really need to tell me that the fan should be off, like he can point to it and I know it, it's a fan, we got it, we're on the same wave language”. But I mean how fluent? Do we want to teach them “lamp” and “door”, and “shoe” and everything else or just the signs that we need to communicate with?

Joann Woolley : So let me ask you KC, do you ever think of a fan when it's not present in a room?

KC Wilt : Rarely...

Joann Woolley : OK, but your child is intrigued by fans, most babies are intrigued by fans.
Johner Riehl : Right!

Joann Woolley : So they might be thinking about the dog that was in the park earlier, and they can't point it out to you. They might be thinking about the fan that they saw at the store, they might be thinking about the book that is not in the bedroom right now,

KC Wilt : And they want to tell me?

Joann Woolley : So that gives you the ability to see what they're thinking about, and this all occurs far earlier than what we give them credit for.

KC Wilt : I think you're right, credit for, I don't give my son any credit for...

Joann Woolley : We're, all of us, sometimes we just need to work on like “Oh yeah! They're supersmart”, I tell parents, “Your babies are all smart, we just don't know how smart”.

Johner Riehl : Right.

Joann Woolley : Untill we can see their ability to communicate with us.

Johner Riehl : I was just reminded that, we were talking about the differences between the languages, the goal is though to communicate. In our family, when we learned that this meant “potty”, and I'm shaking my fist, it was too young, our son was too young to be able to understand it, so we kind of changed that to mean “diaper”, and it's kind of worked for our family. What do you think about families that kind of take their own meaning?

Joann Woolley : We all adapt, right? Some of us use “sister” and “brother” to talk about our siblings, and some of us only use their names, so every family is going to have special nuances, and I feel that you can have a little play with that and still use ASL as youre basis. Absolutely.

KC Wilt : I used to work for a family and I taught her to play, which I don't remember the sign but is basically shaking, like hang loose, with two hands. And so we did that with her and one day the daughter, the baby adapted it to put one finger up and just shake her finger, kind of like she's shaking, and so then the mom calls me one day and says, “I don't know what my daughter's saying to mee!”, and so I had to interpret that, but that was, for her, was “play”.

Johner Riehl : But that happens with regular language too, I think. Someone who's spending more time with your kids, whether they'd be in a daycare situation or if it's the mom or dad, may have a better understanding of what the words are that aren't quite really said right.

Joann Woolley : And what's really happening there is not that they're adapting it, they don't have all of the fine motor skills to get it exactly, just like with verbal language though. The same things sort of occur sign language, that they have to get their fingers in the correct way, and it takes time, just like with getting it to be “Mom”, it start with “ma-ma”.

Johner Riehl : Right.

Joann Woolley : But if they're shaking their hand, you're going to at least have identified probably to either “play”, or “potty”, because it's the handshaking, I've got two things that could possibly be, it's not the whole entire language that I have to pull from. It's two words you've minimized it down to.

Johner Riehl : And I think that's what stops a lot of people from doing any sort of different thing than they're used to. I think if they're doing sign language or any other kind of communication, they're so concerned on “It has to be exact”, or whatever I'm doing has to be the right way in order for it to be correct. Since people are used to whatever their normal language is, they're going to take those kind of difference and adapt and say in context, “Oh, I think I know what you're talking about, let's try this”. But with sign language, if they're approximating, that's great, they're communicating and maybe you're not reading it right right now, but as they do it more you're going to learn that's what they mean, if this for them, the fingers up, means “play”, they'll learn that, and than it's OK, because again, it's more about effective communication and not about the language.

KC Wilt : Is it OK to make up your own signs?

Joann Woolley : I say not to make up your own signs, but I do want to ping back to what we just said. It happens with verbal language too, I'll just give you this example, 'cause this is my favorite one. My daughter was very very hungry for language, whether it was signs or words, and one day she was saying “Noahnoah”, and I thought, “It must be a big word”, 'cause she's attempting to actually give me a lot of syllables, so I had my ears tuned for that, and it was apparently something that I haven't given her a sign for, because she was trying to say it, “Noahnoah, noahnoah”, and she looked at me like I should know what that was, because apparently I had taught her the word. So I'm asking her “What can you show me?”, and she's looking around the room and there's nothing inside that matches with “noahnoah”. Well, a week goes by and she's been trying to tell me, or show me or ask me about it. Well, finally one day, outside, the lawnmower was going on. She runs over to the couch, superexcited, points out the window: “Noahnoah!”, and I'm like, “Awww! I might never remember what noahnoah is, let me show you lawnmower!” So then I could use that situation and go yeah, “That doesn't sound close enough to lawnmower to me, so now I can give her the sign, and now if she thinks about it she can be like, yeah, the lawnmower”.

KC Wilt : I get it, so it's basically being able to talk to your child about experiences they have throughout the day, and be able to understand what they're saying rather than being in the situation and pointing it out. That's an interesting concept I didn't think about. So thanks so much, when we come back, we'll talk about the signs that you can do at home and how to find a baby sign language class near you. Be right back.

[Theme Music]


KC Wilt : We're back with Joann Woolley from Sign4Baby, here with us to talk about baby sign language. So is it important to teach them a ton of words or is just a few OK? Will there be confusion with a larger sign vocabulary?

Joann Woolley : Personally, I feel that it's good to give them as many words and tools as you can, so they can effectively communicate.

KC Wilt : They won't forget them like I do?

Joann Woolley : They won't, you know why? Because their whole job right now is just to learn. So it may take a number of times, months, for them to get the basics down, whatever you start with. When I say basics, I'm not talking about the five signs that almost everyone starts with, “more”, “eat”, “all done”, “mommy”, “daddy”. I'm talking about just whatever you use as your foundation to start with, which I encourage parents to use more fun signs instead of those ones. But the more tools they have, the more your world opens up, and the more they get curious about the world. Curiosity is the perfect sideway to learning. And then you create a very avid learner.

KC Wilt : So you don't think it's confusion if everything you do is with signs?

Joann Woolley : I ask parents to start with a small number at first, like a box of puzzle pieces.

KC Wilt : Is that better for them or the parents?

Joann Woolley : For both, you're right, because as the parents are learning alongside them, you do want to start off with a small number, so you don't inundate yourself so much, and you want it to be fun, so start with a small number you can feel confident, and once you've built your confidence, you're going to get excited, just like the child, and will want to be growing your vocabulary, because look at how much they're curious about, look at how much they care about, all these things that I never would've known, and you're going to continue to grow right alongside them if you start it off with the fun stuff.

Johner Riehl : What are some of the basic signs that you tend to start with in your class?

Joann Woolley : Great question. These are the ones that are sure winners in our class: “milk”, because that can be a form of bonding, which for an infant is play. Think of milking a cow, how do you grow to grab the uterus?

KC Wilt : So milk looks like you squeeze your hand...

Joann Woolley : For any breastfeeding moms I say “Well, guess what, we know that babies will squeeze the boob in order to get more milk expressed”, so I say, for babies, it's very clear for them that that's milk.

KC Wilt : OK. And you know what? I'm fine with that because they want to eat, that's the first sign - “Give me some milk”.

Joann Woolley : Yes, yes. “Bath” is another good one, so you want to take your two fists and scrub your body up and down. And what baby doesn't love a bath? Yes, I mean babies love baths.

KC Wilt : It reminds me of saying “Do you want to go to a walk” to my dog, she starts flipping out.

Joann Woolley : See, yes, exactly! In fact, with “bath” my son – I told you he didn't sign until he was 7-months-old – but he understood lots of signs, and I thought it in my mind that he understood them, 'cause he'd give me facial cues, receptive understanding. Well he crawled really early, he crawled at 5-months-old, so one day I asked him, “Do you want to go out for” and then I silenced my mouth and show him only the sign, and he crawled for the stairs, like nobody's business, to go up for a bath. And I was like, “He does! He understands! OK, good!” So the understanding always comes first, I want to at least throw that in there. They understand it first, just like with verbal words. Understand first, then they'll start to use it on their own. Alright, so we got “milk”, we got “bath”, “music”!

KC Wilt : Music?

Joann Woolley : I mean, we pretty much all enjoy music in one form or another, so that's another awesome sign.

KC Wilt : What's the sign for that?

Joann Woolley : So you take your open hand, and almost like a conductor, over your other arm that's in front of you, back and forth, swinging back and forth.

KC Wilt : It's like a connector.

Joann Woolley : Yes. “Raddle”, we tend to have raddles for our little ones, and the fact that the raddle makes this awesome sound when they shake it, you're just acting like you're holding the raddle and you're moving it back and forth. Shake shake shake.

KC Wilt : So it can be “potty”?

Joann Woolley : Potty actually is with a “t”.

KC Wilt : Ok, with a thumb in-between.

Joann Woolley : Yes, and then just like you're holding on to the handle of a raddle, is how you would do the raddle sign. Because that's going to give them a very strong corelation of cause and effect, of them being able to shake a raddle, see you shaking a raddle, and then they're going to want to do that, because they would have had power over making that happen, it really inspires them to continue to do that sign. And raddles are a toy, so that's fun. “Light”, “dog”, “keys” and “water”. I really liked when you said that you added in “water” to your vocabulary,

KC Wilt : Well then I changed it to cup, because “thank you” and “water” are almost in the same mouth region and I was feeling like I was confusing my child by always doing the “w”, so you have three fingers for the “w” and you touch your first finger to your chin and you kind of pull out, and then “thank you” is with a closed hand touching your lips, and so I was like, “It's going to get him confused” and so I started turning it into a cup, “Do you want your cup?”, so that way I didn't have to worry about water, juice, milk – it didn't matter, 'cause it covered the meaning of all of them, 'cause if he wanted milk, and I wanted to give him water...

Joann Woolley : I'll tell you as to why I feel like “water” is still a better one than “cup”, your toddler, in their mind, isn't just thirsty, in their mind they do know what they want so giving them the sign for all three differences water, milk, juice, will help them. And doing the letter “j” and using it by my mouth, that's not always used in ASL but I've seen it in this version. So, instead of just “cup”, 'cause you're 18-months-old, that's like a good age to give us an example, a cup of milk, but in their mind they're like “Cup of juice!” and then they're like throwing the cup!

Johner Riehl : Our 18-months-old, who knows the sign for water, if he sees water somewhere else, even if it's not his drink, he recognizes, “Oh, look at that lake at Legoland, that's water”, he's really excited.

Joann Woolley : Absolutely, water in lots of contexts, and guess what? To help you out to, for the next baby, KC, you're going to speak as you sign, so your child actually won't get confused at all, to your child it's not like “Those are too close together”. What are two words that sound similar? “Shoe” and “zoo”, those sound really close, but your child doesn't stop to think like “I'm not sure if they're going to understand me”, they just try to say it.

KC Wilt : That's a good point.

Johner Riehl : When you speak, of course you're going to know the difference between “shoe” and “zoo”, they're totally different, but in sign it's like this and this, it's going to be totally the same and they're not going to get it, so let's do something else. That's what the point of the toddler is, they're just a spunge, that's the time to learn the language, and the input is strong, and they'll figure it out. Trust me, if you're not giving them what they want, they'll let you know, and you'll be able to.

KC Wilt : I want to add to this that, you know, I didn't get the fun side of sign language, but I felt that the un-fun signs were actually really helpful for me, because my child loves to eat, and he wanted it right then and there, and it's frustrating because you don't know, “Do you want more? Do you want this?” and so I felt like “more” and “please”, because if he didn't get more right away, he would get upset, but if he said please, it calmed him down from getting upset, because he than was communicating to me “Yes mommy, I do want more, would you please give it to me?” instead of getting upset. And then I'm all done, and so I found those signs to be really helpful for me.

Joann Woolley : Those are super helpful, I just have a different mindset in what I'm trying to help parents to do with baby sign language than what the books out there really strive for. I want parents to have their job be easier, to take care of their children. I really do, and I teach all the signs, I just find that, what really inspired me was that my daughter was telling me about the airplane she heard in the sky, so that was a conversation that I couldn't have with the 10-months-old that didn't have signs.

KC Wilt : So maybe in addition to the working signs of please, more, thank you, in addition to you add these signs, because, exactly like you said, I didn't think about the fact that he wanted to tell me about something that he saw earlier. I think that's a good perspective.

Johner Riehl : So I'm interested in taking a baby sign language class, maybe tell me about yours or some other tips, what do they look like, how old are the majority of the kids in your class?

Joann Woolley : Every instructor is a little bit different, there's probably a thousand instructors that are part of the Signing Time Academy, so that's a great resource to go to, Signing Time Academy and find an instructor nearby. There's lots of varieties of ages and every baby's age is different. For my classes I really focus on the age from 3 months to 18 months, 'cause I find that at 18 months there is a difference twist in the learning, and how to keep them captive. In my class I am teaching the parents to keep it fun for the baby by doing the music, and having the toys, and doing interaction that comes naturally rather than forced, and music, that's a big part of it, yeah. We all tend to learn really well with music, the cadence, the rhythm, the songs get stuck in your head, so that's a really fun aspect of the classes.

Johner Riehl : Well that's sort of, I guess, where the little secret is, as a parent, I actually really enjoyed learning the signs too, and being able to have that vocabulary and knowing how that language affects the kids.

Joann Woolley : It's nice to communicate across the room too, like if you're a couple or whatever, you know, you can do little subtle movements.

KC Wilt : She just did a sign for “no”!

Johner Riehl : Oh, yeah! When we're in separate cars I can tell her that the baby is asleep right now, and we can just do that, so it's good to have that.

Joann Woolley : Right, right. We've been at the park so many times and we have three kids, so we're across the park, watching the kids and my husband's like “I'm taking this one to go potty!”, so I don't think that they're just heading to the car and leaving us.

KC Wilt : Oh gush, I like that! No offense, but my son's 2 years-old, and there's a lot of noise going on, but I'd like not to go back to the negative signs, if I could tell him!

Joann Woolley : KC, we're going to have to have you jump this.

KC Wilt : I know, seriously, like you just talked about earlier, he is so far away from me, it's like a dog, you go to get them and they run farther and faster and you can't keep up with them. But I should have teach them the sign for “no”, just “please, no, come back, please, pleaaase!”

Johner Riehl : In your class, do you see that maybe there's some kids that you had when they were younger and then they have younger siblings and then they're helping out and all that?

Joann Woolley : Oh my gush! Yeah, the older kids love to be in the class, because they help them, they teach them, what kid doesn't want to help? They love that, 'cause the spotlight shines on them, 'cause they can actually get their fingers formed exactly right, they can see the sign one time and than they got it, so they're like an expert, like me. So they love that, yeah, older siblings are in my class all the time.

KC Wilt : So I mostly just did the milk sign and she does it all the time but now she's doing it as her wave, just kind of cute. But there's some more ways to learn more signs, she's 1 year now, so.

Joann Woolley : Well, there's a lot of books that are on the market. I haven't really taken the time to read all of them but I hear from parents that are in my classes what they've gotten from it, so there's lots of books, and one that I do recommend, 'cause I read it and it's “Sign with your Baby”, by Doctor Joseph Garcia, it's a quick read, you can read it in 90 minutes and get the information. I know parents don't have a lot of time so I know short is really really viable, and then of course there are apps, so there's a lot of apps that are on the market. And then there's the signing time DVDs, which parents love. And I sell those on my website, and I sell them in my classes, and again the music aspect, the play, to see other children sign in the videos, that's really helpful, for both the parent to see the approximation that their child may be making, but also fun for the kid, 'cause kids like to emulate other kids, so that's why I really like the signing time DVDs. And then I'm coming up with a webinar in Spring, 'cause I have a lot of followers on twitter, and now starting on Facebook, that are all over the country. And I'd love for them to fly me out to their neighborhood, to their area to do a class, but that's not always possible. So I'm taking my workshop that I teach to parents and I'm creating a webinar and it will be available this Spring.

KC Wilt : Great, we'll put that information on our website. Thanks so much Joann Woolley for helping us learn about sign language for baby, if you want more information, go to today's show on our episodes page on our website. Our conversation will continue with Joann after the show for our Parent Savers Club members, we'll continue talking about other signs that we can do at home and see our website to sign up.

[Theme Music]


[Featured Segments: Ask The Experts]

KC Wilt : We have a question for our sleep expert, Joanna Clark, this is from our Facebook page, Carrol Potter says, “I have an almost 4-month baby girl. My question is in regards to her naps. She takes about three naps a day, I have to rock her to sleep, but it only takes about five minutes for her to fall asleep. If I put her down in a co-sleeper, she either immediately wakes up, or wakes up after 20 or 30 minutes. If I hold her, she sleeps an hour to an hour and a half. Is it better to always try and put her down so she doesn't get in the habit of someone holding her even if it shortens the nap duration? Or is it more important to hold her so she gets a good rest and she isn't overtired throughout the day?”

Joanna Clark : Hi! This is Joanna Clark, from, and Carrol is having a lot of questions right now about her 4-month old baby girl, and having some questions in particular about nap. So, Carrol, what I want you to do is to give you a little bit of background information on what appropriate sleep expectations are for this 4 to 5 months old age group. A baby this young, which I really consider to be in the newborn phase, where sleep is not very well organized, which is one of the reasons why you're having some nap difficulties, technically a baby this age will take four to five hours of daytime sleep over the course of three to five naps. Sometimes these naps are small, short ones like you're experiencing, that is common, and babies this age also are sleeping about 10.5 hours at nights, and of course in that time frame they are also nursing or feeding several times during the nights, it's not one long stretch. I should let you know that the minimum period for a nap as a baby near six months is about 45 minutes. But in this young age, this common dilemma of 20 or 30 minute naps happens frequently, and also what you can do is to go in and help the baby go back to sleep another couple of 20 or 30 minutes to complete the sleep cycle, so I always recommend that. Your question about whether or not you should hold her to sleep or lay her down, my philosophy with this young age which is in the newborn phase – 4 months old, is really to focus on getting your daytime sleep expectations anyway you can get it. So if that means that you do have to hold your baby, or put them in a carrier or stroll or swing them, it's almost better to make sure that your baby's having ample naps during the day rather than trying to do any kind of formal nap trainings that really doesn't work at this young age. So, again, I would just aim to the sleep expectations of four to five hours of daytime sleep, spread over anywhere between three and five naps, if they're shorter naps, that's fine, you can always try to extend them if you feel that the baby can get back to sleep, you can co mfort them back to sleep. Just be patient during this period, there are lots of distractions at this time, and as your baby moves towards, at six months of age he will definitely get the experience of having regulated sleep, because sleep becomes more organized. So best of luck, take care!

[Theme Music]

KC Wilt : That raps out today's episode! We'd like to hear from you. If you have any questions for our expert about today's show or the topics we discussed, call our Parent Savers hot-line at 619.866.4775, or send us an e-mail through our website or Facebook page and we'll answer your question in an upcoming episode. Don't forget to tune in to behind the scenes Parent Savers Club to keep listening. Next week, we're talking about mommy isolation after the baby arrives. Thanks for listening to Parent Savers, empowering new parents!


This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.


[End Of Audio]

Love our shows? Join our community and continue the conversation! Mighty Moms is our online support group, with parenting resources and helpful new mom stories you won’t find anywhere else! You’ll also have a chance to be featured on our shows.

Become a Mighty Mom!