More often than not parents are motivated to learn baby sign language and teach it to their little one because it will make their job easier in knowing what their baby wants or needs. This is helpful, yes. Who wouldn't prefer a baby signing MORE or ALL DONE while in the high chair or DIAPER when they need a new one? But, for most babies this is not the best way to begin signing.
I learned this with Amberly by chance. When she was 6 months old we were hanging out on the stairs where a pile of rubber ducks and other bathroom decor waited to be taken to her bathroom to embelish it. As she picked up the little ducks I would playfully "quack" and use the ducks to kiss her and make it a fun interaction. We did this for maybe 10 minutes, I am not sure because I wasn't watching the clock... we were just having fun. As I watched Amberly play with the ducks she held one up and signed and said DUCK clear as day. Now, she didn't again say DUCK for a couple months, but this scenario showed me how closely they pay attention to what we are doing and saying when it is all based on play.
If you have read one of those baby sign language books that advises starting with MORE, ALL DONE, EAT, DIAPER, NIGHT-NIGHT, I have my 3 guinea pigs that clearly showed more interest in using these signs only after learning the signs for things that most interested them.
Leave me a comment: I'd love to know what your baby's first few signs were and what you think about starting with some fun intriguing signs before jumping into the abstract or complex ideas of MORE, ALL DONE, etc...
Joann Woolley is owner and instructor of Sign4Baby in San Diego teaching parents how to communicate with their pre-verbal baby using American Sign Language. With her in depth knowledge of ASL as her first language she takes you beyond just the basics in signing, also filling your parenting tool belt with parenting tips and tricks coupled with signing as a great boundary teaching tool for toddlers. Want to know which signs most parents start with but gets them stuck in the mud? I'll send you that hundred dollar tip for FREE.