We started signing with Owen when he was about 5 1/2 months old as part of a free baby sign language course sponsored by a parenting group at work. The course started on September 16 (Week 25) and met every Wednesday, for six weeks, during lunch. We have been fairly consistent with what one would consider the basic, starter signs: : eat, milk and more. Over the last few weeks, he seemed more attentive to the hand gestures we made while speaking to him. This past week (Week 39) he began clearly signing ‘milk.’ The sign is simple enough—like milking a cow—but we were amazed and so proud.
Nine months is about the point many kids make their first sign and Owen started signing ‘milk’ in earnest just short of 9 months. From what I have read, now that he has learned his first sign, he will start picking up new signs more quickly. We are excited he has a way to communicate with us—besides crying—still a year before he is expected to speak.
Check out the Baby Signing Time series if you want to research whether teaching your child sign language makes sense for you. It is very well produced, easy to follow and a fun way to learn another language. Also, Baby Center has a short blurb regarding the “when” and “why” of teaching your baby sign language. I found the member comments helpful while deciding when to start and what to expect along the way. Lastly, one of my colleagues, Scott Hanselman, has an insightful series on his blog detailing the benefits he and his wife witnessed during and after teaching their boys to sign.