Ever have a teething, sick or otherwise cranky baby? Does your baby appear to have their "learning hat" on at that time? Probably not. I encourage parents to continue using the signs they already have in their toolbelt, but to hold off on introducing new signs when their baby is in the midst of one of these common upsets. Instead of adding to the frustration of what is ailing them by showing a new sign, wait until they feel better to add new signs where you both will gain.
There may be an exception to this. For instance when my daughter was sick and I needed to give her medicine, I never thought to sign it to her. She didn't do well taking medicine... I also didn't know that much about homeopathy at the time either and am convinced that her unwilliingness to take the medicine was a sign from her that her body didn't need these chemicals.... anyway that is another post altogether. It wasn't until my 3rd baby that all OTC cold medicines were deemed unsafe for children under 2yo.
With my boys, I found that by signing medicine a few times before giving them something that indeed was a helpful remedy, one they could feel in just minutes, seemed to make them more receptive to taking the medicine, as in they had made the correlation that the teething tablets by Hylands were a good thing, and I would also then sign medicine for the other types of cold medicine I gave them and they took it with greater ease than Amberly had.
If your baby is teething, overtired, ill, or otherwise cranky, wait until he or she is happy and feels better to introduce new signs.
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.