Overwhelming your baby is one of the biggest and most common mistakes new signing parents make. Parents begin with far too many signs all at once and confuse their baby. In turn, parents also stress themselves out because they can’t recall the signs, can’t use them enough so that baby remembers them, and baby is left with a stressed parent who eventually gives up quitting before they’ve been given a fair shot at success.
When you start signing, limit the number of signs to just a handful. Choose only signs which have a direct and immediate impact on your baby’s life. More on this throughout the book, but for now just know that you can do too much, too early. Baby sign language is not a more is better sort of thing – at least at the start. In most cases 5-10 signs is the proper amount of signs to start with. When baby signs one of these back, simply add one new sign to replace that one which has been successfully added to their vocabulary. Naturally, you continue to keep using all the signs that your baby does to keep them fresh, if not they will be forgotten. So in theory, you are only working on say 5-6 signs in addition to the signs your baby already knows. This system makes it certain that you and your baby won’t be overwhelmed. It means you only need to commit to memory a few signs at a time instead of an entire library worth. By the time your baby has picked up the signs you have chosen for them, you will have had plenty of time to memorize the signs yourself first. I can guarantee that your baby will be a slower learner than you which should relieving a lot of the fear you might have as you tackle signing.
Above: Courtney and Holden goofing around with the alphabet!