Who’s Got Time to Teach Baby to Sign?

I can’t count the times I’ve silently yelled at my baby, “What on EARTH do you need right now?”

Trying to understand our children’s cries, babbling and secret languages can be frustrating.

I thought we found the solution with baby sign language, but I’m finding that gestures made with tiny little hands can still be unclear.

We bought the baby sign books when I was pregnant. But when the baby actually came, they were used more as coasters than study materials.

When are you supposed to sign the word for “milk” between fixing a bottle, feeding the baby, burping, cleaning the spit-up and washing the pile of bottles in the sink?

Most days, I was lucky if I remembered how to spell “milk.”

Now a toddler, CeCe’s communication skills have improved, and through daycare, she has picked up one actual sign – “eat.”

At first I enjoyed this new use of her tiny hands. She would walk in the kitchen and start tapping her lips with her fingers. Ah! She is ready for dinner, fantastic.

Then it became any time she caught my eye, the tapping would start and she would repeat-edly utter “Eee-Eee!”

Now, she will have a full mouth, an animal cracker in her hand and start tapping and mumbling “Eee,” spraying crumbs everywhere.

When she is telling me she is hungry with a mouthful of spaghetti, I think we may have missed the mark.

Sometimes I think CeCe is showing me a new sign. I watch and wait, try to decipher what message she is sending until I realize she is just performing some kind of hokey-pokey/chicken dance hybrid a cappella.

For parents who want their children to grow up with the skill of knowing sign language, diligent baby signing may be a great idea.

But for us, I think our signing is going to be a little more primitive. If I can get recognizable gestures for “eat,” “potty” and “please,” then I will feel successful.

Follow Katie on her mommy blog at mynewheartbeat.com.