Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The story of how I taught my daughter to sign MILK (Part TWO)

A couple days passed since our “baby waving” (see Part One of this series) incident and now it was Valentine’s Day. Upon leaving for work my husband rang the doorbell, leaving behind a beautiful arrangement of red roses. With excitement I was telling Amberly all about the flowers and how nice Daddy was to surprise us. With baby in one arm and vase in the other I displayed them on top of a wine cabinet that happened to be in a spot we passed to enter and leave the home and was near the kitchen and also a spot we’d pass to get to the stairs leading up to the bedrooms where I’d put her down for naps. I explain all of this because it happened to give us lots of opportunities to pass by the flowers, each time I got myself something to eat (at 4 months she was still exclusively nursing and she really liked to be held much of the day), each time we went outside for a walk or to check the mail, and when we went upstairs for her multiple naps in the day.

It is widely known that babies are attracted to the color RED, so it was no surprise to me that my daughter was transfixed on the red roses. Also, at that young age, she was becoming more aware of her environment and changes that came with it, as well as reading our expressions quite well. She’d been intrigued by my excitement over the flowers, she was furthermore intrigued by them – so much so that she was doing the typical thing that babies do, reaching out to grab at them. I knew right where one of those flowers would end up if I allowed her to grab one, it would go right to her mouth! Something transpired that day that was completely by happenstance. I taught my 4 month old how to “smell” a flower.

Each time Amberly reached out for the flowers I gently held her hand and showed her how we could enjoy the flowers by first leaning in towards them, second, closing our eyes, third, breathing in the scent through our noses, and fourth, giving a slight “aahhhhhh” in appreciation of the aroma. Each time I’d verbally tell her what we were doing as we progressed through each action. It was fun to see how captivated she was in this practice, how intently she watched what was going on, She never grew bored of it throughout the day even though I think we must have repeated it more than a dozen times. Then as evening rolled around Amberly surprised me by following along, leaning in, closing eyes, audibly breathing in through her nose and letting out a little sigh! I figured we were going to be at this practice all week (which of course we continued to do) and well into toddlerhood before seeing any resemblance of her understanding or demonstrating the act of smelling a flower. I couldn’t help but to be excited and she responded in like. When Daddy got home I attempted to have Amberly show him just how much she loved the flowers. Well, just like asking a baby who is newly waving to show off on demand, it is a little complicated. She didn’t quite get all of it but she got enough of it to show she really pays attention to what we’re doing. I told my husband I was going to have her signing milk the next day!

Be sure to catch Part Three in the series of “How I taught my daughter to sign MILK.”

Joann Woolley is owner and instructor of Sign4Baby in San Diego teaching parents how to communicate with their pre-verbal baby using American Sign Language. With her in depth knowledge of ASL as her first language she takes you beyond just the basics in signing, also filling your parenting tool belt with parenting tips and tricks coupled with signing as a great boundary teaching tool for toddlers. Want to know which signs most parents start with but gets them stuck in the mud? I'll send you that hundred dollar tip for FREE.

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