The Baby Signing Book: includes 350 ASL signs for babies & toddlers

May 7, 2011


When I mention that we use sign language with our daughter, people often ask me how we learned it.  I’ll just clarify that we  know quite a few everyday words, but we are by no means able to sign fluently.  The most we string together is about 2-3 signs.  Therefore, it has been easy to pick up the vocabulary we need from a print resource, and the one I happen to have is The Baby Signing Book by Sara Bingham. This book is not specifically for children with special needs; in fact, a lot of parents are choosing to introduce signs with their neurotypical children as well. However, for parents who do have a young child with Down syndrome, it certainly fits the bill. 

There are a number of features that make this a great book for parents who would like to sign with their children.  The first part of the book gives parents an introduction to American Sign Language and the basics of signing.  Subsequent chapters discuss language milestones and how signing fits into these naturally developing skills.  There are also very practical suggestions on working sign language into your day.  Some parents are not sure where to begin, and so it is helpful that this book describes how to incorporate signing into songs and activities.  There is also a brief section on signing with children who have special needs, including a few testimonials from parents who have children with Down syndrome.

This leads us to the most frequently consulted section of the book in our home: the visual dictionary.  It contains 350 signs, each with an illustration as well as a description of how to make the sign in terms of the hand shape, body space, and movement required.  It also gives you a little “Memory Aid” to help you remember the sign later.

The book concludes with the lyrics of many different children’s songs and an explanation of how to use the vocabulary from the book to accompany the songs.  I find using songs particularly helpful with my daughter as the music becomes another cue for her when learning new vocabulary.

I think it is important to note that we are not using this book to replace spoken language; rather, it is used as a tool to build receptive language and to bridge the gap between the time the child learns to understand language and when he or she is able to physically speak.  In children with Down syndrome, this period can seem quite long for parents and frustrated toddlers, so the signing becomes a very helpful tool. 

Canadian families will be interested to note that author Sara Bingham resides in Ontario, Canada.  She has a background in Linguistics and Communication Disorders.  In addition to writing this book, she has also founded a sign language program called WeeHands which has instructors across Canada and the United States. 

Suggested for: any parent who would like to learn to sign with their baby or toddler; all public libraries

The Particulars: The Baby Signing Book: includes 350 ASL signs for babies and toddlers. Written by Sara Bingham. Published by Robert Rose Inc., 2007.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah May 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I absolutely loved this resource and go back to it to refresh my memory all the time. Owen is now signing for eat, drink and milk and we were amazed how quickly he responded to the signing. He always stares at our hands and lips when we speak and he seems so motivated to communicate. I would recommend this book to all parents too.


Heather May 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Thanks for the feedback, Sarah! That is impressive that Owen knows so many signs already!


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