First of all, relax, don’t stress yourself out! This is supposed to be fun. You aren’t going to be graded and there’s no measure of failure. Even if your child is not signing back, they are still benefiting from all that extra attention one on one and all the extra conversations going on. Trust me on this one. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t all that important. In the end your baby is going to passively pick up language whether you actively push it along or not.
Second, understand that not all babies are as social or extroverted as others, some enjoy the physical world rather than interacting with other people. This is especially so with boys who are very keen on playing with things rather than people and chatting. Even some girls would prefer to play by themselves or with toys instead of chatting it up. Some babies add a lot of signs quickly while others are happy doing a few signs which are primary to their interests at the exclusion of others. All of these things are based on baby’s personality, so relax and let their characters evolve. You really can’t force chattiness on a baby!
Therefore, just because your baby isn’t signing or showing interest in talking, does not mean that they are slow or delayed. Let a professional assess them, but for now, just enjoy the time you get to spend with your darling instead of rushing for them to grow up. Soon enough, your baby will grow old and will be facing real life challenges like SAT scores, job prospects or worse, so let them enjoy the time they get to spend carefree.
Some babies are late bloomers and will require several additional months on top of what other babies require. Most of these baby’s will understand the signs just as quickly, but might not use them in an expressive way for some time. Plenty of babies spontaneously start talking and do it quite well despite rarely talking earlier. The same applies to signing where some babies keep it all inside until one day and suddenly flourish so much so that you can barely keep up. If your baby hasn’t sign back yet, maybe you are pushing them too hard, with too many signs, and they are resisting, maybe your baby wants you to just chill a bit.
For the record, expect about 1-2 signs a month in the early stages – after about 10 months of age – and the first few to be the most difficult. This is a realistic expectation, but definitely not required as proof that your baby is normal. Several months can elapse from when you start signing to seeing results, and this wouldn’t be abnormal. If first signs don’t happen before your frustration sets in, give it a break and try again later. There is absolutely no harm in this. The longer you wait, the more ready your baby will be to sign back. Starting too early can also lead to frustration so if you tend to be easily discouraged, then wait until your baby is 10-12 months old before you even start signing. If you have already started, don’t worry, just restart when you think you are ready to give it another shot. Older babies will almost always start signing back quicker than younger babies, and your particular baby will always sign back faster at a later date when compared to themselves at an earlier date! Bank on that!