Repeat after me, baby sign language is not a competition! Do we agree? Okay now admit it, you love it that your baby signs more than your friends baby, or maybe you are upset that your baby signs less than theirs. How much a baby signs is almost directly related to how much signing they are exposed to. Perhaps you have three siblings helping you sign, or maybe you do signing boot-camp or sign all day long. Perhaps you have family who come over who help you sign and when they aren’t around, your baby goes to a signing daycare. All babies are pretty much average, despite what we as proud parents may think. So given that this is true, the only thing separating them is experience. That’s really it. Yes there will be individual differences in personality and differences in intelligence, but so what? Signing is just one thing, it’s not everything, and your baby (or your friend’s baby) will excel at something else. No baby is perfect at everything.
You might notice that other babies sign more than yours, or even that yours sign more than others, but signing is not about competition or being better than someone else, it’s about communicating and relationships. Some babies can learn 50-100 signs or even more, while others might just learn the 5-10 of the most important ones. While the first baby is chatty, the second is efficient! Every baby accelerates at a different pace and on their own schedule. Some babies use signing just to get what they want, and so it’s not a reflection of their ability to communicate, rather it’s an indication of their desire to communicate. Some babies will use signs in brief, using the path of least resistance – the easiest way to get what they want – while others will talk at lengths just for the sake of talking! This is why baby sign language is a tool to uncover a baby’s personality before they can even speak.
Not all babies will sign on command either, some are independent and aren’t interested in showcasing their talents for the amusement of others i.e. they aren’t anyone’s dancing monkeys (no offence intended to dancing monkeys of course). Introverted babies will use signs to get what they want, and talk about what interests them, precisely when it’s of interest to them, and not a moment sooner. Some babies are shy too and tend to “quiet down” when they are around new people.
When a baby really wants something, they’ll find a way to make it known!