Take It Slow
Eventually, the magical day will come when your baby makes her first sign. It may be unsteady, but she will do it. You, of course, will be thrilled. Finally seeing results after weeks of waiting can give you a renewed sense of purpose. Now that you know your baby can and will sign, you may be tempted to demonstrate signs for everything you can think of. But doing this could hurt your child’s progress instead of helping it. Too many signs at once (especially in the beginning) can result in your child getting her signs confused, feeling overwhelmed, or not comprehending the meanings of the signs.
Like any new skill, your baby will learn sign language one step at a time. It is best to introduce her to one or two signs, and when she has mastered those to introduce her to a couple more. Just don’t forget to keep using the old signs after the new ones have been introduced. It is worth noting that after she has acquired the first few signs, the rest will probably come more quickly and easily. This is because your baby now comprehends the fact that signing is a way for her to communicate.
As slowly as signing may seem to come to your baby, it is a skill that can be acquired much earlier than speaking. While the average twelve-month-old may only have one to ten words in her spoken vocabulary, a signing baby can have two, three, or four times that many.
If your baby begins to show indications of confusion after using several signs, it may be time to slow down your signing. Do not add any more signs for a while, and continue to use the ones you have already been using with her. When she seems to have them down without any confusion, it will then be appropriate to introduce new signs again.
You may also notice that your baby seems to drop a sign now and then. One day she will be using a particular sign, and then suddenly it seems to be gone from her repertoire. Generally, this is because your baby is so busy demonstrating new signs that she can’t be bothered with the old ones. Continue to model the sign in front of her, even when she isn’t using it herself. This will help her to retain its meaning until she is ready to use it again.