Signs of Rest and Relaxation

Babies and young children are often reluctant to go to bed. Therefore, you may be surprised at their willingness to let you know when they are tired.

Either of these signs can be used to express a baby’s desire to rest, though it is more accurate to use the sign for BED to refer to the piece of furniture, while the sign for SLEEP will refer to the act. You may find, however, that because of the simplicity of the sign, your baby starts to use the sign for BED to indicate sleep.


The sign for BED, as shown in Figure 8–5, is familiar to most people and is easy for baby to form.

  • 1. Tilt your head to one side.

  • 2. Press both palms together in a “prayer” pose and bring up to your head.

  • 3. Rest your head against your hands.

FIGURE 8–5 Bed

Another variation is to rest your head against the open palm of just one hand. Toddlers seem to love this sign and may occasionally form it even when not tired. If your child forms the sign and it is not his usual bedtime or naptime, you may want to try cuddling with him for a bit to see if he is truly tired.


Although the sign for SLEEP mimics the action of falling asleep, it is a complicated one for babies to learn. Your child may soon comprehend its meaning, but he may have difficulty forming the sign himself.

  • 1. Spread your hand in front of your face, palm facing toward you.

  • 2. Move your hand downward across your eyes, closing the fingers.

  • 3. Your eyes should follow the motion of your hand and close to indicate that you are asleep.

As you sign with your baby, you can expect that he will create his own variations. Look for anything that resembles this sign so that you can react appropriately when he forms it.

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