Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign

Learning Signs the Fun Way through Music and Play


By Anne Meeker-Miller, PhD

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$16.99 CAD




ebook $12.99 $16.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 26, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Finally, a way to ease the most challenging times of day with baby. Since signed gestures enable babies to “tell” caregivers what they want and need before they can talk, mealtime and bedtime are occasions when signing can really come in handy. Based on Dr. Miller’s popular workshops, Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign is a user-friendly guide featuring over 200 signs with photos, instructions, and activities. An all-new, 12-song CD with upbeat music followed by calm lullabies teaches and reinforces key signs.


“Mealtimes and bedtimes don’t have to be stressful thanks to Anne Meeker Miller’s new book, Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign. Her magical combination of music, sign language, and play can help parents and babies bring closeness, connection, and fun into these important times of day. Not to mention the tremendous benefits for communication—which makes for happier and more confident children, and provides a solid foundation for literacy. Happy singing and signing!”
“We know now that the first days, months, and years of a child’s life are a time of incredible learning. Children who have rich language experiences and positive interactions with others from birth develop important language and pre-reading skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. Anne Meeker Miller’s Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign is a truly joyous book that is beautifully constructed. This visually appealing resource of vocabulary and thematically conceived songs has my most enthusiastic endorsement!”
“I love Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign! The author’s sense of humor shines throughout the book. Research has shown music and sign to be an effective means to foster language development and encourage early communication. The use of song and sign is also an enjoyable way to enhance the parent-child relationship. If I had a young child, I would be using this book every day.”
“Our family loves Anne’s music. My children responded immediately to the rhythm and words. The first time they listened to one of Anne’s CDs, they got up and started acting out the songs all on their own. The music just seems to resonate with them. It’s clear to me how important music and movement is to early communication. I witnessed it with my own children. Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign should be a part of every family’s library. Besides being educational, it’s just plain fun!”
“Imagine! Talking to an infant with your hands. Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign will show you how to communicate with your baby through signs and songs. The baby is learning language and listening and motor skills as he or she bonds with you. Nurturing, playing, learning, and bonding together will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of learning and positive experiences.What could be better for baby?”
“As a mother and a therapist, I highly recommend Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign as a tool to support and enhance early communication and language development. It incorporates music, signing, and playing in promoting the development of motor, cognition, social-emotional, and language skills. As one who appreciates resources that are grounded and supported by research, I particularly liked the ‘references and resources’ section of the book, as it allows for further reading. My family thoroughly enjoys the music CD, and I appreciate the fun tunes with built-in repetition that support all kinds of learning. Thanks!”
“I have my Masters in Deaf Education and know sign language very well. I did not know if I would gain anything out of a sign language book for my son. The thing that is so great about this book is that it is more than just signing. I got inspired about singing and making up songs about everything and making simple homemade toys for him to play with. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone, whether they are new to sign language or already sign fluently.”
“I am a pediatric dietitian and a mother of two, so I understand the many challenges associated with mealtime. Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign is an excellent resource for parents to help make mealtime relaxed and fun for the entire family. Signing with your baby and toddler can help decrease mealtime stress and turn the dinner table from a battlefield to a rewarding family experience. I hope you enjoy communicating with your baby with sign language as much as I do!”

“And now,” cried Max, “Let the wild rumpus start!”
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (HARPERCOLLINS, 1963)

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book goes to nonprofit organizations that support childrens’ causes in the Kansas City area.

For my husband, Dan, and sons, Andy, Kevin, and Greg: Long may we “rumpus”!

Language, especially how children learn their first language, has been a fascination of mine for years. Before I was married I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Linguistics. When I had my first baby, I saw a book about using sign language to help preverbal babies communicate. It provided delightful communication as well as a bonding experience with my firstborn; I followed the same simple process with subsequent children, teaching only a few key signed vocabulary words.
It would seem that by my fourth child, reading a Baby Sing & Sign book would be redundant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being a busy homeschool mother, I appreciated time set aside to focus on the baby—who can easily get “lost” in our family of six. Furthermore, the older children were as captivated by the process as the baby, if not more so! And my baby boy loved all the attention he received from his older siblings as we sang and signed together.
Beyond the benefit of setting aside time for my youngest to interact with him on a one-on-one basis, I learned that there was a sensible and practical expansion of what I had done with the older children as I taught them to sign. I quickly added signs to our family repertoire and this became something that just fit into life—with no extra time or undue effort. The homemade toy ideas were excellent. Above all, the simple tunes and lyrics have become something of a new family tradition for us. If my youngest gets fussy or bored, a round of his favorite Baby Sing & Sign song changes everything!
Our family has benefited much from enjoying the Sing & Sign programs together.
—Carol Webster
Kansas City, Missouri

Yes, there is a Nirvanah; it is leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.
Nothing is more satisfying for parents than meeting the needs of our babies.
When we first become acquainted with our newborn, she is not that complicated; she needs to be fed, clothed, and cuddled, and she sleeps away a good portion of her first months. I can relate to Shirley MacLaine’s character in the movie Terms of Endearment, when she bounced her baby around in her crib to make certain she was breathing, and awakened her baby daughter in the process—I was so excited about bringing my infant son home from the hospital that I did my fair share of gently jostling him. I wanted him to realize in his own baby fashion that I was on duty and ready to roll at a moment’s notice.
And oh, the pride we take in meeting the whims of our little ones. We throw ourselves into this job with the single-mindedness and determination of an athlete training for a triathlon. We give voice to every quivering chin and whimper or wail of displeasure: “You must want your diaper changed . . . Surely you are overly tired from your first visit to the zoo . . . I bet you are too warm from wearing your long-sleeved sleeper . . . You’re cranky because you’re teething!” It is human nature for parents to want to explain an infant’s sadness or discomfort.
As our child grows, so does the list of possible issues causing her tears and frustration. She wants a specific snack or toy; she is terrified of brown dogs, but white and black ones are just fine; her yellow sundress is scratchy and uncomfortable; she wants to feed the ducks at the park now and not later! With such a long list of potential baby grievances, how do we resolve the problem if we are simply guessing at its origin?
The solution for many parents is to teach their hearing babies sign language so they can communicate their wants and needs. When you teach your baby key signs such as MORE, PLAY, EAT, DOGGIE, PLEASE, HELP, and MILK, you are giving her the opportunity to solve some of her own problems.Then she can let you know what she wants and you can respond consistently with the particular type of help she needs: provision of a snack, more snuggling on the couch, going outside to play with Scruffy the dog.
In my first book, Baby Sing & Sign, I introduced a sign language communication program that provides numerous developmental benefits for babies and enhances the lives of families with young children. Through music and play activities, parents can teach their infants key signs from American Sign Language (ASL), the language commonly used by the deaf community.
The method is an outgrowth of my work as a music therapist for a public school system in the Kansas City area. Several years ago a colleague asked me to explore the use of music as a way to help infants and toddlers learn to sign. I wrote or arranged some child-friendly songs with lyrics that focused on basic vocabulary words. These often-repeated words made sign language practice simple and fun. Music proved to be a powerful and motivating tool for teaching sign language. Not only were babies responsive, but both they and their parents were having fun!
Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign tackles parenting challenges specific to feeding babies and making sure they get adequate rest. I apply the best practices in teaching babies and toddlers new skills by incorporating music, play activities, and rich picture book literature into our sign teaching. Over two hundred ASL signs are shared, along with hundreds of practical teaching tips and fun family activities. You’ll be able to create a language-rich environment for your child in your own home, promoting deep learning of the essential vocabulary words babies and toddlers need to master communication with others.
I also share plenty of creative ways that parents have utilized sign language to help develop their baby’s healthy eating and sleeping habits. My hands-on approach helps you create routines, redirect mealtime or bedtime meltdowns, and anticipate some of the parenting “potholes” that may lie ahead. Most importantly, I give you ideas for savoring each moment with your child as you snack, sup, snuggle, and sleep.
Avery signs DOWN.


Babies can communicate their wants and needs using gestures long before their vocal mechanisms are mature enough to verbalize. In groundbreaking research, child psychologists Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn found that using sign language with children at an early age supports the natural development of their ability to speak. Babies who learn to sign experience less frustration and often verbalize sooner than their peers, and most importantly, sign language strengthens the bond between caregiver and child. Acredolo and Goodwyn’s “baby signs” are gestures they invented or modified from American Sign Language to best fit the hand-shape development of babies.
Teaching your hearing baby to sign is an extension of the types of nonverbal communication she already uses to get your attention: crying, facial expressions, gesturing, making noise, crawling toward an object she desires, and more. Most children create their own signs to tell you what they want and need, such as pointing to a desired object or waving their hands across their bodies with a grumpy look. Pointing at the pantry in search of a certain snack food may lack precision, and that grumpy arm wave gesture is likely to baffle you, as it can mean so many things in the same day: “I want my stuffed bunny right now,” “I don’t like peas so take them off my plate,” or “I am trying to learn to crawl across the kitchen floor all by myself so quit trying to help me!” These types of “signs” are ambiguous and can often contribute to even more frustration for your child.
Some benefits of teaching babies and toddlers ASL-based signs include the following:
• The ASL hand shapes often form “pictures” of the objects or ideas they represent and are therefore simple for the child to learn. For instance, the sign for EAT is performed by tapping gathered fingertips to the lips, pantomiming the act of eating food. Your child may learn to perform some of the signs quickly, improving your communication with one another in no time at all.
• Many daycare centers are teaching ASL signs to children birth to two years of age. It then becomes easier for caregiver and parent to communicate with a child if they both use a commonly accepted sign language. Also, when a child needs to move from one daycare center to another, the transition is smoother because both centers are likely using an ASL-based approach.
• Teaching basic vocabulary words in American Sign Language to your child at an early age may enable her to use these skills with toddler- or preschool-aged peers who are hearing impaired or deaf. Because siblings often continue to practice their signed words with their younger brothers and sisters, I find that many children starting preschool or elementary school know basic signs. The same words they use with the babies in their family will come in handy at play centers or on the playground: “Do you WANT to PLAY with me?”
You should always say the words to your baby as you teach her to sign; sign language is your tool to help your child learn to speak. Sign language builds a communication “bridge,” supporting your baby’s ability to receive and understand spoken words—and helping her tell you what she wants and needs—until that time when she can speak the words intelligibly.
Just as most babies stop crawling once they learn to walk, most will stop signing a word once they can speak it. Speaking is easier than signing for most children. Immersing your baby in words—spoken, signed, and sung—gives her more than one way to grasp their meaning as well as exposure to lots of different words, to supply her with all the enrichment and support she needs to learn to speak.
Some ASL signs are too difficult for baby fingers. For this reason, I have modified some of the signs so they are a better developmental fit for the fine motor skills of infants and toddlers. Children may modify a sign further and do their own version of that sign. These individualized gestures should be accepted and praised: “Great job signing CRACKER, buddy. Here are some crackers for your snack.” Parents should continue to model the signs as they are described in this book. With practice and time, babies and toddlers often become more precise in their signs. However, babies and toddlers don’t need to sign with precision. All they need is a caring adult who will learn to interpret their child’s gestures and respond in a consistent and encouraging way.


For those who are interested in findings from the scientific community regarding infant and toddler language acquisition, here are a few excerpts from some notable research studies:
• Michael Brent, Ph.D., researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, found that children younger than fifteen months learn words primarily spoken by their parents in isolation. For instance, when they hear single words such as “go,” “carrot,” or “mouse,” they learn the words much easier than if they hear them in a longer sentence. The frequency with which the parent speaks a word is also a critical determinant of whether the child will know that word later.This finding supports the use of sign language because repetition and the practice of words in isolation are natural elements of the sign teaching process.
• In her book, What Kids Need: Today’s Best Ideas for Nurturing, Teaching, and Protecting Young Children (Beacon Press, 2002), parenting expert Rima Shore makes the important point that babies learn language in the context of their relationships with caring adults. She notes that by the time babies are nine months old, parents typically follow their child’s line of vision to an object of interest and proceed to label the item for their baby: “That’s a BUTTERFLY. Isn’t it pretty? Look at its colorful wings.” Says Rima, “This kind of responsiveness fosters infants’ language acquisition.” This interaction is possible only through “face time” with your child; educational DVDs cannot fulfill this important requirement.
• Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., and Roberta Golinkoff, Ph.D., co-authors of How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life (Plume, 2002), found that infants and toddlers learn language differently. Babies younger than twelve months learn the names of objects they are most interested in. Toddlers, however, pay more attention to social cues, and want to talk about what their parents are interested in. Parents should express interest in, label, and discuss objects that are of interest to their child. Says Golinkoff: “So when you’re at McDonald’s . . . [and] you’re holding a french fry and talking about divorce, your baby might learn [that] the word ‘divorce’ goes with a french fry. Talking with children matters, even at this very early age.”


Sing & Sign is a unique approach to teaching sign language and is ideal for busy families. The program uses music, simple play materials, games, and picture books to help you and your baby learn and practice a variety of easy and essential words from American Sign Language that can be used in meaningful communication. The original Baby Sing & Sign book and CD features upbeat songs for learning basic words and ASL. The proven benefits of music and sign language continue with Toddler Sing & Sign. Older toddlers and preschoolers learn to express themselves and learn more about the world, mastering signs for animals, colors, feelings, and more.
Thousands of families have successfully used Baby Sing & Sign to teach their infants to sign. Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign is a new installment to this program built specifically to remedy challenges you encounter when feeding your baby and getting her to sleep. In addition to signing, your baby will enjoy the wonderful songs, games, and activities that fit effortlessly into your busy life with her. Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign will help your child make important connections between the objects and events in her life and their labels.

♪ About the Mealtime and Bedtime Signs

The signs and words included in the book were chosen because of their importance for communicating with eating and sleepy babies. I’ve given you an extensive menu of vocabulary words for food choices and manners. The signs I have selected for bedtime include clothing and activities customary for “night-night” routines, as well as favorite people, activities, and animals that babies like to sing and read about before they climb into bed.
Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign provides two photographs for each sign taught in the book. One shows an adult model performing the ASL sign of a word. The second photograph shows a child performing a modification that a baby or toddler might make when she attempts to perform that same sign. It is important to always look for the child’s best attempt to sign the gesture and to respond with praise.

♪ About the Mealtime and Bedtime Songs

The twelve songs in this book and on the CD are arranged from start to finish with eating and sleeping babies in mind.The first five songs are all about food and mealtime; the next five songs are about bedtime rituals, gradually transitioning your child to her crib or bed. The two bonus songs at the end of the CD are lovely lullabies that you can play to your child as part of your bedtime routine to send her off to slumber.
Each song on the CD provides opportunities to sing as well as sign the vocabulary included in the book. Some songs were composed for the program; others are slightly modified or expanded versions of uncommon folk tunes. The melodies are simple but musically interesting to your baby—a child can recognize and respond to the tune and rhythm, and will delight in any new verses parents and caregivers may add to extend the fun and learning.
When Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign is used as a language development program, I recommend singing the songs with babies for several weeks to provide repeated opportunities to hear and enjoy the music.The tunes make up a repertoire that can be enjoyed by the entire family. As with the first two Sing & Sign CDs, parents have shared with me that the benefit of including these songs in their family life has endured long after their children have learned to speak.
Here are a few more ideas for singing and signing with your baby:
• After you have listened to the CD and learned the tunes, you can alternate singing with or without the CD. Singing without musical accompaniment is called a cappella singing. Your a cappella singing will become a source of comfort and pleasure for your child, and will create opportunities for your baby and your entire family to devise their own games.
Musical creativity is strongly encouraged! As you sing the songs without the CD, make up verses that will make your child smile and incorporate a variety of your child’s signed vocabulary words in fresh and interesting ways. Babies especially like songs that include their name. For instance, try singing a variation of “John the Rabbit” that might go something like this: “Oh, Sam the baby had a mighty good habit of EATING all his carrots . . .” You can substitute any food or animal to create new verses for “My Kitchen Door.”
Consider your child’s developmental level and enjoyment of the song when you choose which signs to include as you sing. The signing should not detract from the child’s musical pleasure!
Emphasize only one word in a sentence. Research studies have found children learn words best when they are taught one at a time. The sign directions in the songbook suggest one or two words per phrase for you to sign as you sing with your child. Older children may enjoy signing more than one word.
Embed the music in your daily activities just as you do your sign language teaching and practice. Make music a natural extension of your routine. The songs are infinitely portable and don’t require a CD player to enjoy. Simply sing and sign any of the Mealtime and Bedtime songs (or your favorite childhood tunes) as your child takes a walk, plays inside or outside, rides in the car, bathes, or cuddles.
Singing provides an important context for your child to sign. The structure and predictability helps her recall the gestures and grasp the meaning of the words the sign represents. She might be willing to sign some of the key vocabulary words of the song, “White Sheep and Black Sheep” as you sing. However, asking her to “show Uncle Bob your SHEEP sign” may bewilder your child, because there are probably no sheep in Uncle Bob’s living room. Signed words need a context that makes sense to your child. Music provides the “sign setting.”
Maizie signs MORE


Make sure to consume this book in small bites. There are over a thousand activities, resources, suggestions, and songs to help you teach more than two hundred signed vocabulary words. Take your time as you add signs and songs to your day-to-day family life. Before you begin teaching your child to sign, flip through the book from cover to cover. Thumb through the “Mealtime and Bedtime Dictionary” and mark the pages of words you would like to teach your child. Key mealtime vocabulary words are marked with and important bedtime words are marked with . This can guide you in choosing a core vocabulary list if this is your first baby sign language experience. You should also follow your child’s lead in selecting signs that have meaning for her. If she adores her teddy bear, then BEAR should be one of the signs you teach first.
Start enjoying the music CD with your child as you drive in the car, prepare meals, play inside, or rock before bedtime. Once you are familiar with the tunes, you can begin to add your new signed vocabulary words as you listen and sing along. Each page in the “Mealtime and Bedtime Dictionary” includes a list of songs that you can sing to practice that specific signed vocabulary word.
Mealtime and Bedtime Sing & Sign


On Sale
Aug 26, 2008
Page Count
304 pages

Anne Meeker-Miller, PhD

About the Author

Anne Meeker Miller, PhD, is the founder of Baby Sing and Sign (TM), a language and music enrichment program for hearing infants and toddlers. She teaches the Baby Sing and Sign series and seminars at a major medical center in the Kansas City area, where she shares information about the benefits of music, sign language, and play for babies, and gives easy and practical strategies for incoporating all three into families’ daily lives.

Currently a music therapist for the early childhood special education program of the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, KS, Dr. Meeker-Miller has taught music to students from preschool to college levels. She received the Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City Star, and is the recipient of the 2004 Kansas Educator of the Year in Arts and Disabilities Award given by Accessible Arts, Inc. and the Kansas State Board of Education. She holds national board certification in music therapy from the American Music Therapy Association. Dr. Meeker-Miller lives in Olathe, Kansas, with her husband and three sons.

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