Pram Jam with Beth – Baby Sign Language

Oh yes, my darling newly-turned-2-year-old, how I do wish sometimes that you could communicate more effectively with me, despite your limited vocabulary!  You want to go on the transformers ride, you want to put the money in, you want to press the button but NO! as soon as it starts to move you need off! With a few more simple signs in our shared vocab list I wonder how much easier our outings would be. Luckily, we invited a passing shopper and her little girl to share the ride with us, so that the $2 was put to use…


There are many schools of thought when it comes to baby sign language, I tend to fall into the ‘having some baby signs in our toolbox is awesome’ school. We use a simple sign for ‘more’ and another for ‘mummy milk’, and one for ‘wash’. That’s really pretty much all that’s stuck from the 20 or so signs that I attempted. More dedicated baby signing parents can spend a great deal of time building up a large repertoire of signs with their baby, and the results can be astounding –  and then there’s the families with a deaf or hard-of-hearing family member, for whom the use of signs (typically Auslan in Australia) is a necessary part of everyday communication between loved ones.

I remember learning to finger spell the alphabet using Auslan (Australian sign language) when I was in primary school and over the last couple of weeks I have refreshed that memory, as my little man has taken to wandering around our house singing (his own version of) the alphabet song. I do love to put actions to rhymes so I wanted to start ‘teaching’ him the alphabet in sign language, which inspired this blog post. We’re only just getting started with it and it’s lots of fun! My boy loves to sing and do actions to his favourite rhymes so learning actions for the alphabet seems natural to him. Do you and your family use any signs together?

Auslan font from Deaf Children Australia

Auslan fingerspelling font from Deaf Children Australia

There are a range of baby sign resources available in the Family and Parenting collections at the City of Cockburn libraries, though it’s a good idea to be aware of the differences between Auslan and ASL (American sign language). Many of the publications are American, but there are some great Australian websites and YouTube channels available. Probably the best Australian book I’ve come across is Australian baby hands : unlock the secrets of your baby’s mind / Jackie Durnin

Australian Baby HandsAustralian baby hands : unlock the secrets of your baby’s mind / Jackie Durnin

This fantastic junior kindy book by one of our favourite authors has just been released and is available to borrow or reserve now!  It tells the story of a jackdaw bird trying to invite his friends to come to a party, but he doesn’t understand their responses initially. With the help of the wise old owl he soon learns the signs that the other animals are showing him. This book is very well suited to babies from 12 months, my 2 year old was very engaged with it from the moment he saw the front cover. What the jackdaw saw / written by deaf children with Julia Donaldson ; illustrated by Nick Sharratt.

What-the-jackdaw-sawWhat the jackdaw saw / written by deaf children with Julia Donaldson ; illustrated by Nick Sharratt.

Not all that surprisingly, lots of the songs that we sing at Pram Jam are quite easily translated into sign! We’re loving this one at the moment, but there are loads more to choose from:

And Scope have a range of Rhymes that they call See Sing Sign that you can use at home.

So there you have it, another disjointed blog post by Beth. There was no baby sign translation available for the late late afternoon nap yesterday, nor the 11pm bedtime that followed as a result. There was however opportunities today to introduce signs for ‘wees in the potty’ and ‘banana please’, so I call that Winning!

More information is also available at the WA Deaf Society.


Author: Beth

I present the Pram Jam sessions at Coolbellup Library on Mondays during school term, and have worked with Cockburn Libraries since 2003 (with a few breaks here and there to look after my brood of boys). I have a special interest in early childhood development and the practice of attachment parenting - if you are curious I can always point you towards my favourite books in the parenting collection.

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  1. Beth

    Thank you Shantelle! The alphabet song is still one of I’s favourite songs, he sings it about 100 times a day (literally!) and is getting pretty good at the letters. He hasn’t really picked up many of the fingerspelling signs but LOVES when I do them while we’re singing 😀

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  2. Enjoyed that very much Elizabeth particularly the signing of twinkle twinkle little star.

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Pram Jam with Beth – Baby Sign Language

by Beth time to read: 3 min



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