To suggest a meal, you may need to know American Sign Language (ASL) signs for dairy and grain products — whether you're chatting with a Deaf friend or trying to figure out what your baby wants for dinner.

Signing about dairy products

Dairy products provide much-needed calcium and nutrients and, especially if you have a baby, these two items probably have a permanent home in your fridge:

  • Milk: Open and close the fist of one hand several times, little finger closest to the floor. (Yes, you’re pretending that you’re milking a cow. Moooo.)

  • Cheese: Place your palms together, fingers touching opposite wrists, and then rub the heels of your palms together.


    To visualize this sign, think of squishing cheese in your hands. Sounds like a fun thing to do, right?


Grains are a staple, so here are three signs for common grain-based foodstuffs:

  • Cereal: Cup one hand as though it’s a bowl, make an ASL C with the opposite hand, extend the index and middle fingers of your opposite hand to act as a spoon, and bring your fingertips from the cupped hand to your mouth as if you’re eating cereal.

  • Cracker: Cross one arm over your chest, make a fist with your opposite hand, and use the fist to tap the elbow of the crossed arm.

  • Spaghetti: Extend the little fingers on both hands and move the fingers in circles in opposite directions. (The little fingers represent the thin consistency of spaghetti.)