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There is no perfect time to start signing. The important thing to remember is what you want to do. If you start before 8 months--on average they will not be signing back to you. This is more for if you want to make it a habbit. From 8-12 months--They will usually start signing back aroun 10 months. But it could take a few months to see the signs back. From 12+ months--You will see signs back within a few days. The older they are when you start the shorter time they will sign, because there vocal skills will be improving.
Hope this helps.
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Hey Cyndee. Sorry for replying so late. The experts say anywhere from six months to ten months is a good time to start signing. You can use actual signs or you can make up your own. It doesn't really matter unless you want your child to gone on to learn ASL. I don't think there is any harm in using signs now. I started signing with Brandon when he was about nine months. He didn't actually sign back to me for a really long time. Then when he did I wasn't even sure that was what he was doing. He doesn't do his signs exactly right but he is consistant with them.
Here is a link to an article on Baby Signing. It has some good links on it.