Monday, November 10, 2008

Signing before 5 months?

Kidlet and I are down in Louisiana with her grandparants, and I'm getting made fun of a bit for suggesting that she (at 4 months and 3 weeks) is making her first sign. And I'm skeptical myself, really.

Earlier today, we were sort of hanging our, her in her swing, and me on the couch. She was looking around, but every once in a while, she'd make eye contact with me. It had been an hour or two since she'd eaten. Suddenly, she locked eyes with me and started bringing her right hand to her mouth repeatedly, which is a gesture I've been using, off and on, when I feed her, as the sign for "eat".

She did that for long enough that it really seemed like more than just a random gesture, then she started to fuss a bit, so I decided to fix her a bottle, which she sucked right down. I had Christie on the phone at the time, and I told her I thought the kidlet had made her first sign, told her what happened, and she respectfully disagreed. So did Mary.

She made the same gesture after a dinner of delicious mashed peas (locked eyes, right hand repeatedly to mouth), and sucked down 2 ounces of formula, then chilled for a while on Grandma's lap. Mary, again, was skeptical, especially when kidlet again looked me in the eye and brought her right hand to her mouth.

"No way is this child still hungry," she said, but I made another 2 ounces, and she drank about half of it.

That's what I've got in terms of the pro side. On the counter side, she does sometimes make the hand gesture minus the eye contact, and when she does that, she won't take the bottle. Also, there's the fact that she's only four months old, and that I haven't been even slightly consistent in using the gesture when I feed her, which is what all the books say is necessary.

Like I said, I'm skeptical. I really don't know much about sign language in babies, and my study of language acquisition has been limited, to say the least. And, frankly, I've made fun of friends before for being convinced that their child is some kind of genius. But there was something about the way she locked eyes with me while making the gesture that felt like intentional communication. I realize that's hardly quantifiable, and I'm definitely looking for counter-evidence, but I can't deny that my instinctive reaction was that she was signing to me.

Is that nuts?


cleek said...

When it comes to my kid I start with the assumption that she can. I've found that it's a great assumption to make evaluating whether or not I should put a drink on the edge of the table, whether I can give her instructions without knowing whether or not she can follow them, whether she can be toilet trained early, learn to sign, etc. Is Sophie signing? Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to assume that she is. You'll know soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Yes she can!