While I was pregnant with my first son I decided I wanted to work on baby signs with him.  I didn’t buy any materials; I just looked up the signs I wanted to use online.

Starting at 3 months I began signing “milk,” and when he began eating solids we started working on “eat,” “more,” “all done,” and “drink.”

I have pretty consistent signed these few words to him almost his entire life.  But I didn’t see any signs!  While I knew other babies typically can pick up signs by around 9 months, Fletcher wasn’t having it.  Then he turned a year, and still no signing.  I was discouraged but I kept up the few signs we did.  I would have added more but since he hadn’t picked the ones I was showing him up I held off.

2-3 months ago he did start signing “all done” which of all of the signs, wasn’t the most helpful!  I was still excited to see him pick it up though.  Instead of flipping his hands front to back, he just holds them up.

Then this month, he started signing “more” back to me.  It was a very exciting day!  For “more” he also adapted the sign to his own use and puts a fist to an open hand, versus bringing it finger tips together.

I began really pushing the signs after that, and just a few days ago he finally signed “milk.”  It was the one sign I really wanted him to learn, since I sign “milk” for nursing.  In recent weeks he has already come up with his own sign for milk.  But it is something I hope he stops.  He smacks his lips and either points to my boobs or lifts my shirt down.  It is less than polite!  “smack smack smack” mommy give me boobies!

The irony is that I always signed “milk” to him when we nursed.  Now, it is the most beautiful and exciting thing to see.  I love how gingerly he opens and closes his fist.  Friday night while I rocked him and nursed him before bed he gently signed milk.  It was so sweet, and I was so proud of him.

The reason I wanted to share is because I hope our story will encourage any mamas out there who think their baby isn’t picking up signing.  I did think he understood, but was worried he would never sign back.  Now that he is picking the signs up we will continue working on these and will introduce a few more.  I believe signing is great for helping non speaking babies to communicate.  I am just so glad we stuck with it!

11 Responses

  1. This is so nice to read. I have been signing to my son since he was about 3 months old. He is turning one tomorrow and I wondered if he would ever sign back to me. He does seem to understand the signs but never a sign in return. Thanks for posting this, it is very encouraging.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!
    We signed with our now 3 1/2 yr old starting at about 10mo and he wound up using over 50 signs… It was impressive and great for communicating. We plan on doing the same with our almost 3 mo old. To the reader w/ the 17 mo old- I don’t think 17 mo is too late to start- I think it would be a great time because at that age it can be very frustrating for little ones to get their wants/ needs accross.

  3. Carter, at 11m randomly started signing more! I think he got it from his big brother! 🙂

    We LOVE the baby signing time series. They are awesome. (and we only have the first 2)

  4. I started signing milk with Emma about a month and a half ago (she’s almost 5 months) and now when I sign milk and she’s hungry she gets all excited, starts bouncing and slapping my hands LOL. I should add more but I always forget :p
    Oh, I also use milk for nursing 🙂

  5. Brady (14months) signs “all done” and “more” the same way as Fletcher. Just wanted you to know you aren’t the only one with a baby who has modified the sign : )

  6. We’ve been working slowly on signing too. We went to a class at the library late last summer but didn’t get much out of it…she didn’t at least. I learned a bunch. We finally have ‘more’ down pat. We are slowly picking up ‘all done’ and I’m just like you…not giving up on the ‘milk’. In time. My son had about 20 words he knew by the time he was 2 and I didn’t really try that hard. We still (he’s 6) use ‘thank you’ when we are in public to remind him that he needs to say it. Keep it up…it’s a great gift you can give your kids. 🙂
    .-= Calley´s last blog ..A talk about poop =-.

  7. What a great story 🙂 I’m interested in signing with my 6 month old, but my boyfriend will have no part of it. He absolutely refuses to let me use sign with Tommy. I really don’t understand what the big deal is, but since he’s super great with everything else I want to do (cloth diapering, breastfeeding/pumping, no sugar/tv, cosleeping, etc) I figure I owe him enough respect to let him have a say in how we parent.

    I hope you have many more moments like when he signs milk! Keep up the good work mama!!
    .-= Alycia C.´s last blog ..Review: Rocky Mountain Diapers =-.

  8. Wow, that’s funny, my daughter is about 10.5 months old and I’ve been signing to her since she was about 4-5 months old. I did with my son, who is now 4, and he did pick it up around 9 months. But little girl didn’t seem to pay any attention. Apparently I was wrong. She has in the last week been using signs for “more” (clapping), “all done” (which she has decided is rubbing hands together like they are dirty), and now the newest addition, “milk” (which definitely means nursing, it’s the only milk she’s ever had!). The milk sign is by far the cutest and she gets this little shy quiet face as she concentrates on moving her hand just right. Yep, I melt every time. And her indicator used to be ripping open the top of my shirt in desperation. A very welcome change. I just introduced the sign “bath” to her tonight. Congrats to you and Fletcher for developing awesome communication skills!!!
    .-= Jennifer B´s last blog ..(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – My daughter’s lovely faces =-.

  9. That’s great! It is exciting to see them signing and helps so you don’t have to be a mind reader. My daughter is 9.5 months and picked up on the sign for “milk” pretty quickly and early. In addition to pumping her fingers, she added her own part to it by either slapping her own chest or mine to let me know she wanted to nurse. The other night she wanted to read books (we do the sign for that too) and not nurse. After each book I would ask her if she wanted to nurse, using the sign for milk and she kept pushing my hand away. It certainly was obvious what she wanted even though she couldn’t talk about it. We’ve recently introduced the sign for “play” to her and she’s responds back with waving her arms excitedly.

  10. I, too, started signing with my daughter when she was about 4 months old. She is now 12 months and has only been using a couple signs reliably for a couple months. She does “more” and “all done”, she also makes up her own signs 🙂

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