Not having enough time to sign is impossible. If you have time to skim this course, or to look at the newspaper, a magazine, or watch 15 minutes of television every other day, then you have more than enough time to sign with your baby. Baby sign language accompanies you throughout your day. Even if most of it is spent working outside of the house, you’ll still be able to teach your baby to sign. It might take a little bit longer to get results, but the time you do spend with your baby will be spent signing alongside your spoken words and over time, your baby will pick it up. If you have time to check a dictionary on occasion, and have time to communicate with your child in any capacity at all, that is, you aren’t isolated from them completely (of course you’re not!), then you have time to teach them to sign.
Perhaps on the outset, you envisioning long nights reading and memorizing from an ASL dictionary, but this couldn’t be further from reality. Signing is as easy as choosing a half-dozen signs and using them daily whenever you say them out loud. If you aren’t around all day, simple, just recruit your caretaker, friends, grandparents, uncles and aunts, siblings and the rest of the extended family. Then, once your baby starts to use the signs you’ve introduced, just add some new ones. If your baby suddenly shows interest in a new object, and you don’t know the sign for it, just do a quick search of the dictionary, practice the sign a few times on your own, and you’re off to the races!
If you continue this pattern over several months, you’ll soon come to realize that you’ve picked up 20 or 30 signs without even noticing! Most signers will learn about 20-30 signs, which is plenty, to cover all the basic needs of their baby include some that speak to their personal interests. More ambitious signers will easily cover 100 signs and might even reach 350, but by the time this happens your baby will be well into their toddler years, and will very likely be talking up a storm. As soon as baby becomes verbal their interest in sign will likely diminished as their hands will be busy doing other things. This will mean that signs will be added more slowly.
It’s perfectly understandable to have reservations when you first begin something new. However, signing is not as time consuming as you might first think, and anyone who has time to talk to their baby, has time to sign to them too. So, set no extra time aside for signing, just add new words to sign as you go and sign the key words in your sentence whenever you talk to your baby.
Above: This is a method to teach FIRE! Have your toddler blow out the flame.