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I started using a few signs with my daughter in the first few weeks of her life. After taking the Level I course with Melody when she was 4 mths old I learned a lot and was signing as much as I could every day. I was so frustrated and almost ready to give up when she didn't seem remotely interested in any of the signs at 8 months old. Melody told us it could take a while, but my patience was dwindling. At 8.5 months she waved for the first time. I had to laugh - it was a sign I didn't focus on in the slightest. She must have picked it up from all the people waving to her at Christmas. But a couple weeks later she was signing "more", and soon after she signed "ball", "all done" and "fish". Now, at 11 months old she can do nearly a dozen signs! It has been so delightful to see her sign and to know we are communicating.
Baby sign language is a tool of communication that you can give to your preverbal baby. Babies begin to gesture at a fairly early age; putting their hands in the air to be picked up, pointing at things they want etc. They quickly learn that these movements will elicit a reaction from his/her parents. Taking that natural gesturing to the next level, parents have started to teach their children specific signs that they can use to communicate their needs. Most people use signs taken from a real sign language such as ASL in North America. By using ASL signs with babies you are not teaching them the actual language, you are simply using the exact sign for the exact English word.