Before I had my first child, I read a lot of books on parenting, children, raising children, labor, etc. I had so many books to read that I fell asleep many times with books propped open on my chest as my tired eyes closed in mid-sentence. I was fascinated with what I read about “baby signs.”
The idea was that infants could use baby signs to communicate with parents and care givers before they could talk. Like sign language but a simple hand gesture.
I thought it would be worth a try. So our first son was born and I was home with him for fifteen glorious weeks of maturity leave.
We tried to make a habit out of using signs when we said the words, even when we believed that he was probably too young. My husband stayed home with him the first week that I returned to work and our son began daycare when he was four months old.
At home, we were consistent with a handful of signs. We focused on what we considered the most important, “milk,” “more,” “all done,” “yes,” and “no.” The childcare facility that he was going to did not practice baby signs with the infants.
I was disappointed but realistic about it. They had twelve infants ages 0-2 years. They were busy all day.
One day, as I took the empty bottle away from my son, he cried out. He wouldn’t stop crying. I checked his dry diaper and tried to burp him. He became more frustrated as the minutes passed.
Then I saw it. As he cried, he brought his hands together with fingertips touching.
MORE. He was doing the sign for “more.” I quickly added milk to the bottle and gave it back to him.
That was it!
I was so proud. I called my Mom. I called my friends. It was a great day. He was not even six months old and he was communicating with me.
I taught baby signs to both sons that followed. We kept it simple by focusing on the most common words for baby. Some of them I made up on my own.
It was amazing. Before they could talk, they could sign. They could ask for what they wanted or needed and we could give it to them. It was very rewarding.
Edited by Jody Smith