The reason most parents don’t get baby signing back quickly is because they fail to teach their baby motivating signs. Motivating signs are any signs for words you baby really finds fascinating. Because your baby is keenly interested in the subject means that your baby will be all that more likely to sign the word.
PLAY is a strong motivator for a lot of babies whereas others might really be interested in all forms of animals such as DOGS and CATS. However, choosing to sign EAT is not as motivating to a baby as the word MILK, as milk is what the baby really wants. EAT is secondary to wanting MILK so it is important to boil down the motivation to the particular item so that baby can ask for it specifically.
Above: The hand pats the thigh as if beckoning a dog followed by a snap of the fingers in the ASL sign for DOG. Either, or both gestures can be used.
Providing a fail-safe list of motivating signs is impossible since every baby is motivated by different things depending on their personality. Generally these things are separate from routine based activities, but not necessarily. For example, some babies are highly motivated by foods, so food related items like COOKIE or CRACKER can be extremely motivating for them to learn and use. MORE is also a motivating signs since it can be tied to MORE DOG or MORE PLAY or MORE whatever. You see, MORE is a root to all baby’s needs which is often why MORE is the first word a baby signs.
Here is a rough primer on motivating signs that might interest your baby:
FLOWERS, TREES, ANIMALS of any sort such as DOG, CAT, BIRD, farm animals, zoo animals, BUTTERFLIES, LIGHTS, AIRPLANES, BOOKS, FANS, BALL, SHOES, PLAY, TRUCKS/CAR, HAT, TELEPHONE, and all sorts of foods!
Really, motivating signs are different for all baby, and it will be up to you to figure out which signs you wish to teach your baby.
Above: In this signing marathon we sign RAISINS, MORE, LIGHT, DADDA, MOMMA, APPLE, BIRD, TRUCK, PEACH, DIRTY, DIAPER, MILK, WATER, KITTY, DOG, DEER, BABY, AIRPLANE, GIRL, BOY, MORE, THANK YOU.