If you ask me, I think the full benefit to signing for parents doesn’t occur until your baby is about 16-18 months of age. Your baby, on the other hand, is benefiting from signing the day you start your baby signing program. Let me explain why.
When you first start signing with your baby, he is not going to be signing back. However, as you sign, you are engaging your baby directly, one-on-one. Your baby is receiving plenty of stimulation and because you are using signs and talking, are activating their brain’s visual and auditory channels. At about 10 months of age, your baby will start to sign back to you and make specific, yet simple, requests. Your baby might ask to EAT, ask for MILK, or as for MORE of something that has just run out.
Now, as your baby reaches 16-20 months, he will be signing 20-30 signs independently. He won’t be simply labeling the things he sees in his environment, but rather, will be making requests for things that aren’t around at the time. This alleviates frustration for your child and hence for you. At this point, you and he can begin to have conversations about things. You can work through scenarios that happen during the day and recall things happened before. As your child becomes more emotional, you can also use signs to talk things out. Because your baby can use signs, he’ll make his wants and needs known. Up until this time, his wants were pretty basic. He was interested in eating and sleeping along with some cuddle time. Because your baby’s needs expand as he ages, communication is more and more important. Right up until your toddler is speaking, signs will be his crutch to help him express himself. If you haven’t yet experienced a frustrated toddler, you’ll soon find out why communication is so important.