21st November, 2010 - Posted by DrBoo - No Comments
I have been signing with X since he was 4 months old. When I say with, really I mean at, as he did not sign back until a month ago.
We didn’t go to any classes, as I knew some signs from work, and stuck with some key ones – bird, milk, food/eat, more, water, dog, cat, bed, that sort of thing – and would sign and sing things like 3 Little Monkeys – totally pointlessly as he never watched me when I did it.
Anyway, he started babbling a lot from an early age, so we just figured he would start talking before he had the fine motor control to sign. And, true enough, dog and duck (well, kind of) were his first words, and still no signs.
Then be started looking like he was playing the castanets. Or rubbing butter into flour. And looking at me intently. He was signing for milk.
Then, hmmm, and oh. From feeding once or twice during the day, and seldom if ever when we were out and about, X discovered the power of making the boobies appear at his whim. In the doctor’s waiting room, at restaurants, in shops, in the park, out would come the little hands, above the head, fingers working frantically and a triumphant gleam in his eye.
I was not prepared for breastfeeding a one year old frequently in public, but I had taught him this skill. I was thrilled he could communicate to clearly with me. So I couldn’t very well refuse, could I? And nor did I want to.
Ignoring raised eyebrows, I feed him whenever he asks, although he often only wants a quick snack before he is coming off the latch and trying to make eye contact with passing strangers, while I try to be discrete and not flash the general public.
He uses the milk sign for other things now; usually his gesturing at my top and tugging my clothes gives me the emphasis I need to know what he is asking for, but he may sign “milk” then point at a banana. So unless he expects me to make banana flavoured milk, I assume it also means “I want”.
An article on the evidence for and against signing with babies will be coming to the article section soon.