When is a baby's first word? Sometime long after they start communicating. Infants love and need to interact with other people in order to learn how to communicate. They learn body language and eye contact before they learn words. Babies who are born deaf and have caregivers who know sign language learn to babble in sign language with their hands making random movements that include some recognizable elements of sign language. Eventually they are forming longer phrases and more words with sign language.
Babies with or without verbal skills first interact with eye contact. In normal conversation we typically look directly at each other part of the time and glance away intermittently and then look back again. We are seeing emotional responses to the conversation and internally may adjust responses based on what we observe. Direct eye contact for longer periods of time is more confrontational, more aggressive - those are fighting eyes. Predator or prey our instincts have learned that a stare may be a threat. Playing games like peek-a-boo with an infant is an early way to practice making eye contact intermittently in a fun and non-threatening way.
As the baby gets older and is babbling verbally or with sign language the conversation continues when they are encouraged by a smiling face and verbal or signed response. Infants who receive very little interaction or more confusing interaction with occasional smiling responses and occasional angry or frightening responses may stop trying to communicate and may not learn verbal skills as soon or as well as a baby who receives frequent friendly interaction. Is baby saying googoo, ahah, baba? Sing along with them and you may be surprised at the burbling response.
Whether a baby is born verbal or deaf both can benefit from learning sign language at an early age. See: "Baby Sign Language - Hearing Babies Babble and Deaf Babbling," babies-and-sign-language .
Learning second and third languages can be easier for toddlers than for adults or older children. See: "The Best Age for Kids to Learn a Second Language," Motherly .
The symbol for heart in American Sign Language can be signed in a few ways, tapping the chest in the area of the heart or using the index fingers to draw a heart shape are two ways. American Sign Language (ASL): "heart," lifeprint.
An example of American Sign Language showing the fluid emotional story telling aspect of the language is available in a song video with a sign language interpretaion of Mariah Carey's song "All I Want for Christmas Is You," (via Chrissy @life_laughter_).
Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.