From the moment that Avery was born I’ve been using sign language with her. I realize that she couldn’t possibly get it right away, but doing it so often helped me get into a habit when she actually did reach an age to where she could understand.
I did the same thing with Harlan and she was signing back to me by nine months. I would always give her he milk signal when I was nursing her and low and behold one morning she did it back to me to let me know she wanted to nurse. It was as if a light had gone off in her head.
I was so impressed by her ability to communicate with me without having to say anything that I took it a little bit further and we used sign language throughout her routine during the day. It was incredible to watch her study my hand signals so carefully as I taught her new words.
By the age of one she had mastered the basics and could sign most of her needs. It worked wonders when I had to leave her with a babysitter and rather than telling them what she needed and when she needed it, I gave them a quick rundown on the signs we regularly used and told them to follow her cues.
With so much success with Harlan, I knew that I would do the same with Avery. I talk to her as I am nursing her and give her the signal for milk. She always stared at me with a blank face as I was doing it, but I did notice that every once in a while she would study my hand as I did the sign.
The other day Avery was very cranky and I couldn’t figure out what she needed. I decided that I would try to nurse her to calm her down a little bit as it is comforting for her. Before I got her ready to nurse, I asked her if she wanted some milk and I did the sign for it (as I always do.) Immediately she opened her mouth, turned her head, and went straight for my breast. She had never ever done that before. For nearly six months I’ve been signing to her with no reaction and finally at that moment, she showed me that she could understand.
I know she doesn’t fully understand everything that I do, but this was so comforting to me to know that all of the work of signing just the milk signal had finally paid off. It’s also fascinating that she can understand me in some sort of way. It is yet another way that we have bonded with one another as mother and daughter.
Have you taught your little one sign language?
More from Lauren on Baby’s First Year:
Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on Facebook and Twitter! Check out more of Lauren’s Babble posts at Being Pregnant and Baby’s First Year