Library Blog

A Sign of the Times with Babies

International week of the deaf logo

Babies can communicate and gesture with their hands long before they can speak.  There are many beneficial reasons that support babies learning American Sign Language (ASL): increase caregiver-child bond and communication and improve selfesteem for both adult and baby.  

Signing with your baby is not a new fad.  Historically, signing with babies goes back to the 1800’s when William Dwight Whitney discovered children in deaf families out performed their hearing peers. In the 1980’s, Dr. Joseph Garcia rediscovered Baby Sign Language and starts teaching signing to families. As recent as the 1990’s, Professors Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn’s cognitive and language research show teaching sign languages to babies show enormous benefits.

What is Baby Sign Language, and when should a parent help their child communicate in this unique, non-verbal way and how the child can express his/her needs to avoid frustration before learning to speak words? What is a good age to start teaching simple, common signs? 

The Baby Sign Language Dictionary captures over 600 common words signs, then expanding to follow baby’s interest. For every word there is a video, diagram and teaching notes to make learning the signs fun. 

Books for Parents

Here are some resource books for adults on teaching sign language to babies and toddlers and its benefitsEach word or phrase is depicted in two or more frames with a photo/drawing of a person signing. The following handbooks and manuals and DVD are available at the library or at curbside pickup: 

Books for Babies 

Learn to Sign Streaming Videos

The library provides streaming videos through our Hoopla service, free with your library card.

Baby Brilliant Kits

PLYMC has developed Baby Brilliant kits on Sign Language for Ages 0-2 and Ages 2-5. 

The kit for Ages 0-2 contains age appropriate materials:  10 books, 2 musical cds, 1 toy, and an Every Child Ready to Read resource booklet.

For Ages 2-5: 15 books, 2 musical cds, 2 toys, and an Every Child Ready to Read resource booklet. 


For more in-depth information on Deaf Awareness, check out this helpful website and register to view weekly videos from the National Deaf Awareness Conference. 


Annette is a youth librarian at the Poland library. Besides loving to read books to kids, she enjoys knitting, watching true crime documentaries, listening to podcasts and baking all with her faithful, canine companion, Timber, by her side.