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How can we tell if she is actually asking for milk or not?

Hi there jackie - I have a friend and her daughter is nearly 7 months old. They are both getting a bit frustrated that they can’t communicate with each other properly. She has done some research, as I have, and with my help and friends and family, she has started teaching her daughter to communicate through baby sign - what she wants or needs (about a week).

Do you have maybe some tips on how to help my friend’s baby learning sign? I read about it, and fun and games seems to come up a lot. Are there any games you could play with a 7 month old to help her learn sign?

I was also wondering, my friends baby is already copying her "yay" sign, meaning "good job or well done" in the nzsl "waving your hands or shaking them above your head is "clapping or applause"... so we are doing this as well as clapping, she has already clicked what it means, or so we think. My friend is putting her on the potty now and this morning she went in it, (she’s been on the potty before), but this morning, she did and then waved her hands in the air and smiled/giggled...could this mean she knows going potty is a good thing and is showing/communicating with her mum she has done good or is this a fluke? Like the milk sign, her daughter already does this with her hands, and for the last week maybe, we have all said the word "milk" and signed it, her daughter did it today a bit different and controlled. My friend was unsure if she was asking for milk, or just doing it... how can we tell if she is actually asking for milk or not? My friend offered her milk when she did the sign and praised her for doing the sign, her daughter took some milk when offered to her.

Kind regards
Terri-lee

Jacki...
Answer: Hi Terri-Lee Thank you for your email. The most important thing to remember when introducing baby sign language in your home is to make sure you you have a balance of practical and motivational signs. The more ways you can demonstrate the sign to your child, the quicker and easier it is for your baby to make the connection and begin signing back. The various ways you can introduce signs are the following:
  • through your routines of eating, drinking, sleeping etc
  • through song. Singing and song and signing certain words is another fun way to do it and research has highlighted that children are more likely to remember the sign if it introduced through song.
  • through books. Pointing at the pictures in books and signing the words and signing the words of the story is another fun way.
  • through toys/playtime. Signing the words of different toys or playing games which include sign language.
These are just a sample. Remember most games you play with your child can incorporate baby sign language. It’s hard to know if your friend’s baby was communicating "she has done good" or if she was just happy. I would look out for the next time she uses the potty and see if she signs the same sign. If she doesn`t I would introduce the sign for either "finished" or "toilet" to her and make this a part of the toilet routine. Again, in relation to if she was asking for milk, it’s hard to know when I am not in the situation but it is important to look out for the signs. What is your baby looking at when signing? Is this something she signs at a particular time of the day? You need to look out for the sign language as well as in what context is she signing. It all comes with practise. Sounds like she is definitely progressing with signing. Best of luck for the future. Happy Signing! Jackie
Answered: 01 May 2008