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First Baby Signs: The "Eat" Sign

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

How to sign eat in baby sign language

It wasn't a long time ago since you first held your little one in your arms and it's already time to start introducing solids to her!

Weaning (introducing solid food alongside milk) is a babyhood milestone that may make you feel excited, relieved or even worried for many different reasons.

Babies usually wean around the age of 6 months and you may have noticed by then that your baby shows an interest in food. I remember when my twins were around 5 months old, I was hiding behind the sofa when I wanted to eat something!

Weaning opens a new world of opportunities for your baby; new flavours, textures, smells. Eating is an adventure that baby joins with all her senses! It really is an exciting time for your little one. However, note that until the end of the first year of life, milk is your baby's main food, so don't put any unnecessary pressure on you. Introducing most food types is very important for your baby's development, but if what your baby still prefers is milk, that is absolutely normal. Always consult your GP or health visitor if you have any concerns regarding your baby's feeding.

How To Sign Eat

The sign for "eat" is one of the first signs to use with your baby. Just like the "milk" sign, "eat" meets your baby's need for feeding and it's the only sign you need to talk about food.

When your child is a little older, around 12 - 15 months old, you can introduce different food types and give her a choice. Earlier than that though, signing different food types can be really confusing for your baby.

To make the sign for "eat" bunch your fingertips together and make two short movements towards your mouth. You can even tap your mouth.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of how to sign "eat" to your baby. Don’t forget to say the word "eat" as you sign it - this reinforces your baby’s learning and helps them to associate the word with the sign.

When to sign "eat"

Just before mealtime, grasp your baby's attention and sign and say "eat". You can say something like "Would you like to eat?". Then as you prepare her meal, you can sign and say "I'll make you something to eat". After putting her on the high chair, you can sign and say "It's time to eat now!"

Although you can also use other words, too, to convey the same meaning, like "food", "hungry", etc, I personally recommend always using the same word regarding food. As mentioned above, any different words for eating and food types can simply be too confusing for your baby. Similar, "eat" is suitable for every meal; breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner.

Will My Baby Be Able to Understand and Use Baby Signing?

Babies start using the sign for "eat" from an early age when their gross motor skills are not fully developed yet. That means that their sign will look somehow different from yours, but you will be able to understand it. Usually, babies and young toddlers tap their mouth with their open palm, when they want to ask for food. Another way of signing "eat" is by putting their fingers in their mouth.

Watch gorgeous Aida below signing eat by patting her mouth and pointing to where food is.

Tips for Starting Baby Signing with your Baby

  • Always say the word as you sign it so your baby can make the connection between the word and the sign.

  • Sign in your baby's sightline - keep the sign close to your face.

  • Repeat! Babies learn best through repetition.

Now you know the baby sign for eat, click here to learn the sign for milk.

Starting out with Baby Signing is easier than you think. You just need your hands and our free Baby Signing Guide "How to Teach Your Baby 6 First Signs in Baby Sign Language".

The Very First Signs digital mini-course is now available!

Who is this for?

This is for everyone with a baby or toddler starting out with baby signing. Also suitable for expectant parents who want to learn the core signs that they can use with their baby - when he/she is out -learn while you still have the time to do so!

What's included?

✅ 20-minute recorded class in which I talk about the benefits of baby signing and teach you the core signs you need to start signing with your baby.

✅ 8 videos of the signs taught in the class, which you can download.

✅ 3 bonus sign videos

✅"I can sign..." cards to record your baby's progress and use them as a conversation starter with your baby.

✅ lifetime access to everything and unlimited support via email.

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