It seems that in our house time is marked by one transitions soon followed by another. Owen is approaching the 18 month mark and I'm beginning to feel the impact of night time nursing. Perfect timing that I came across an old post that I actually believe never made it to the blog but I'm too tired to go search the archives! Maybe I saved it on the computer to later work on as an article idea... who knows... but the timing is perfect, a good reminder that I need to use signs to help me through this transition.
The time has come that Kyle, at 18 months will be weaned from his pleasant co-sleeping with mom and dad. It is a sensitive transition. Having attempted a couple of times to place him back in the crib after nursing in the middle of the night, he'd wake up, point towards the door and sign "night-night", which I took to his not being ready for the separation and took straight to bed for restful slumber. Now after midnight nursing he is at times left unsatisfied and asks for water. I recall that being a factor that helped me night wean Amberly from the breast. It seems that for both my kids the sippy cup has taken on the role of a lovey item, some have a bear, some have a special blanket, my kids choose sippy cups... go figure. With the communication that can take place between us I can at least feel comfortable in knowing I'm meeting the needs of my children while making changes to their sleeping circumstances. Detecting the right time to make these transitions is not easy, especially when your beliefs are that these practices help build the bond between parent and child. I found it critical to our timing that each child be able to comprehend the change that was taking place and how else could I know if they didn't have such great communication skills? It wasn't even a thought out plan, "let's teach our kids to sign so that when we're attempting to shift from breast milk to cow's milk and our bed to separate bed it will be easier on everyone." If only we were so brilliant as parents, Cory and I! Rather it is the observation of trial and error and knowing what worked for us that I am imparting to you. Children need a very tangible way to understand change, and verbal words do not always give a child the complete picture, however signing bridges the gap. Take this analogy if you will... babies' first books are picture books that give them a sense of what the story in words is portraying, we would never expect a very young child to be given a book with no pictures and have the slightest understanding of it. Signing is an image for a child that helps families evaluate changes that can otherwise prove to be more challenging.
Has signing with your baby proved to be useful for you in the least expected situation? I'd love to hear from you , and other parents learn from those who have walked before them, so send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
By the way, I'm a big advocate of Dr. Sears and have been on a mission to have them update their list of 7 Baby B's of Attachment Parenting to include "baby sign language". Send an email to the Sears family of pediatricians in support of this notion if you agree. Be sure to cc me in the email!