You probably aren’t there yet, but this is a stage in a baby’s life to watch out for. It can be overwhelming to a signing parent, but with a little bit of preparation and forewarning, you can be ready.
Generally, after the first sign is achieved, your baby’s second sign may come 2-4 weeks later and the third 2 weeks after that. The 4th might come after 1 week and the next a-half-week after that, and so on. By the time your baby has reaches the 10-12th sign, signs can be added every 4-5 days or even less. Then after reaching about 10-12 signs at 14-16 months of age, signing can reach a point of explosive growth where your baby will add new signs very fast. In this stage, signs can be added daily, or even several each day.
The signing explosion is a developmental stage where a baby has mastered a good set of signs, usually 10-15, forming a good language base, and has learned that doing signs leads to getting things that matter to them, and so baby begins to add new signs at far accelerated pace. The signing explosion is as if something inside your baby “clicks” permitting them to master signs very quickly.
You’ll know that you have reached the signing explosion when your baby actively requests signs by pointing at objects, and then looking at you expectantly. When teaching them signs during this stage, you might find your baby carefully study your hands and theirs and repeat signs back almost instantly. This is a time when you will want to have a sign language dictionary close by as a reference guide. This can be an exciting, yet overwhelming time as a sign teacher, because you too will be required to increase your sign base! However, don’t fret, you don’t have to teach all the signs even if your baby wants to – as much of a shame that is! Just do the best you can and whatever you teach will be appreciated by your little one regardless.
Above: In this signing marathon we sign NICE, STRONG, SHAVING, SORRY, HUG, BERRIES, DINOSAUR, SANTA, MOTORCYCLE, POOP, SCARED, FRIES, BROCCOLI, BEAUTIFUL, YOU’RE WELCOME, SLED and KANGAROO.