I would like to know when is a good time to start teaching your baby sign language. I heard they won't start signing back to you before 6-7 months so starting before 3 months might be pointless. Any thoughts on when you think would be a good time to start for your sake as well as your baby's?
Unless he/she has a hearing impairment just to talk to them. Of course point at the things at the same time, to show what you mean ("You want water?" and point at the bottle) but don't replace talking with signing.
Believe me you'll understand their babbling and they will understand you like any other baby did in the past even without sign language attempts.
Anecdotal evidence: a friend of ours is doing this signing thing with her toddler boy. First of all it looks really odd, like why is she flailing hands when she can simply tell him what she wants? And second the boy is now quite behind with speech development because he can comfortably communicate with his parents using signing and has no need to develop a spoken language.
Trust me your baby will be just fine if you just speak to him/her. All the best.
Updates based on the comments:
I'd suspect that most parents don't know or use the official, true sign language when "signing" with their babies. The name is misleading, it should be called "baby-level hand gestures" as that's what it is. Calling what they do a "sign language" leads to a confusion like we have seen here and it is indeed demeaning to the official, proper sign languages.
In other words I'm not dismissing American Sign Language, British Sign Language, or any other sign language of any country.
That misunderstanding also led to some accusations of ableism in the comments. There was zero mention of any impairments in the OP's baby or their family, in other words the assumption is that they are able to learn to communicate verbally. If it wasn't the case it would certainly be pointed out in the original question. That makes me assume that the OP doesn't have a real need to sign with her baby and is only considering it because it's trendy in some circles.
This answer is obviously not relevant in a situation where the baby or the family need to use a proper sign language. However to my understanding this is not the OP's case.
We incorporated basic signs with our children pretty much right after they started opening their eyes (i.e. around 1 month) and coupled it with words. We are not proficient in sign language, we limited ourselves to 'eat', 'drink', and 'more' and was done with a deliberate goal towards the long game and had demonstrable benefits for us.
Our kids are now 3 & 5 and are 3 year old will sometimes fall back on his sign language when he's extremely upset and that's where the benefits really show. Temper tantrums can make forming his thoughts into words all the more difficult, so having a few signs to help him say what he wants can be very helpful for him to convey his desires without words.
He even uses it at bedtime as his way to say, "I love you," and it is the cutest thing ever.
So to summarize, anytime is fine, but I will say there are benefits to be had. It probably won't prevent temper tantrums from occurring, but it will make them a little easier to handle.
We started toilet training our child from roughly day 5, almost by accident. By month 2 or 3, it became clear that the lack of communication was the biggest impediment to success (the baby can't take off their own diaper or climb onto the potty) and it took my dumb brain a few months to come up with sign language. We (the parents) use about 10 signs (of the 25 plus letters that we know - we're very green) as we talk and the baby is currently signing 'milk' to communicate a need (maybe milk). Their verbal communication is still likely months away from catching up based on what I've read. The gross motor stuff is just easier to learn than coordinating the fine motor, breathing and vocalization needed for talking.
The baby made their first poop joke at about 5 months (it wasn't very good, but 5 months!) and it seems clear that babies have a lot going on that they can't express. Right now, our limited vocabulary feels like a missed opportunity.
What if a baby is born deaf? Once parents learn their baby is profoundly deaf, sign language begins, presumably with a baby that can see. Try imagining (as a hearing person with ear plugs on in a very noisy environment) and attempt to listen to someone talking to you. If you can't hear them, you're deaf and relying on your eyes to see their lips move. Lip reading becomes automatic for a deaf baby and sign language a 'normal' skill learned no differently from learning to speak. A deaf baby immediately focuses their eyes, as all babies do, to the person in direct contact. Signing begins immediately. Sign language is the deaf's way of speaking until old enough to learn speech from professionals in deaf schools. Remember, as a deaf person, if you never heard a sound since birth then how do you know how to create sounds into speech since you're deaf from birth? I'm one of several siblings to an older brother born deaf. Mother, father and the rest of us have normal hearing.