Baby Sign Language

I realized today that I have a lot of posts where I mention our sign language adventure (like here, here, here, and here), but not an actual post about it. So here we go!

First off, I definitely recommend teaching your child sign language. There are all sorts of benefits regarding IQ and what not, but honestly what I like best about it is being able to communicate with Peanut. Of course I could still communicate with her without sign language, but definitely not as much as we do now.

We started signing with Peanut when she was about 5 months old. We started with “milk”, “change”, “I love you”, and “more”. Later on we added “all done” because she would get really upset when we would stop giving her yogurt so we needed something that would tell her that it was gone. This is where our first issue came up—we taught her a sign that isn’t really a sign. I thought that I was on a good site, but obviously wasn’t. I can’t even remember where I got the sign, but if you want to teach your child real ASL, you need to watch out. Sites that say “baby sign language” often aren’t real ASL. They use a modified version of sign language that is “easier” for babies. I honestly don’t see a point in teaching my child a fake language.

The first thing she started signing back was “more”, though it didn’t recognize it as such at the time. She probably started signing back at around 9-10 months. First she hit the table, then she’d clap her hands, then eventually she moved to putting her hands together in an obvious sign. Really, she still doesn’t do the sign right (at 14 months), but it’s obvious that it’s what she means. She points one finger to the palm of her other hand over and over. It’s entirely normal for them to do their own modified version of the sign and if you keep doing the sign right, they’ll eventually do it correctly too.

I wish I would have started blogging about her sign language journey earlier, because honestly I can’t remember when she started doing specific signs or even all of the ones she can do. It’s normal for them to do a sign for a while and then “put it in their pocket” for a while. Like she used to sign “yay” or “applause” a lot, but now she never does it. I know she still understands it because if I do the sign she claps, but she just stopped doing it herself.

Signs I know she can do: yay, milk, more, food, book, shoes, blue, and dog. I know she can do more than that, but I can’t think of any more right now. Still, that’s more words than any non-signing kid her age would have and she uses them a ton. She’ll come up to be and sign “book” because she wants to read one. When she was sick she signed “milk” about every fifteen minutes because that’s how often she wanted to nurse. Also, she started pulling on my shirt to tell me she wanted to nurse and I explained to her that it wasn’t nice and she should just sign milk. Now she rarely pulls on my shirt and when she does, it’s because I’m not paying attention to her signing.

The only disadvantage I can see to signing is that she may have less spoken words because of it. I think she just doesn’t feel the need to find spoken words for things because she has signs for them. This doesn’t bother me, but I can see how it could bother other parents. She does say “mama” and “dough” means dog. Also when she sees my breast she points at it and says “dat” in an excited voice. It could also be that she would have been just as slow with words if we didn’t sign, who knows? Studies do show that kids who sign actually have more spoken words than kids who don’t sign so this might just be Peanut.

I’m going to try to keep a more active log of Peanut’s signs and when she does them. She comes up with a new one every week or so and I want to document our success. So be ready to hear a lot about Peanut’s signing! Starting now!

Peanut signed “food” this morning for the first time. I was giving her a Mum Mum and asked her to say “Mum Mum” because she used to say it a while ago, but has since stopped probably because we don’t give them to her as much. Rather than saying “Mum Mum”, she signed “food”! Food looks like this:

Isn’t that cute?!? My Smart Hands is actually a really good site when you’re beginning with ASL. It doesn’t have many signs, but it has the ones that you’re likely to use and it has the baby doing the signs too so you can see the approximation of how yours might sign it.

She just hit her open hand to her mouth, but she was trying to sign “food”. How do I know that? You just figure out how to recognize your child signing something after doing it for a while. Like when I sing the ABC’s, but don’t sign it, she moves her hands as if she’s trying to do the signs. It really doesn’t look anything like the signs, but she does it to the rhythm of me singing. If I weren’t used to recognizing signs, I might think she was dancing.

Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays: Cereal

I had a lot of conflicts about whether or not to give Peanut cereal when she turned one (and therefore was old enough for cow’s milk). She already ate Barbara O’s (organic Cheerio type cereal that’s sweetened with fruit juice) dry, but whether or not to put milk on them threw me for a loop.

We don’t give Peanut milk to drink. Well, we do give her milk to drink, but that’s our word for breastfeeding. I see no point in giving her Moo Cow—the name we came up with for cow’s milk because we called breast milk “milk” for so long that if we even called it “cow’s milk” she would want to breastfeed—while she’s still breastfeeding because I already have the best milk for her. So what about putting it on cereal? I decided we’d give it a go.

Here are some helpful tips I’ve come up with in regards to toddlers eating cereal:

First off, don’t let any extra milk be sitting in the bowl. If your Baby-led Weaner is anything like mine, they’ll grab the bowl and try to flip it over. This applies for expressed breast milk in cereal too (yes, I tried that once, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference to her and I hate pumping). The goal is just enough milk that the cereal is sticky.

Second, you need to put something below the kiddo to catch all of the dropped cereal. I don’t know about you, but we’ve gotten to the point that I don’t often put something below her because she doesn’t drop much. Lots and lots of cereal will be dropped and it’s very, very sticky. Be prepared for clean-up.

Third, give them the bowl and spoon and let them go at it! It’s hilarious to watch.

She tries the spoon for the first little while…

and she’s even successful sometimes!

Then she gives up on the spoon and uses her hands.

Blurry, but you can see how she shoves the food into her mouth. :-P

We don’t do cereal for breakfast often because we try to eat whole foods as much as possible, but when we do we both get a kick out of it. I suggest you try it!

Newsletter — 13 and 14 Months

Hello Little Miss,

I realize that I totally skipped out on your newsletter last month and I apologize, but to be honest I just forgot. I was in the middle of my last semester for my Associates degrees and we were trying to find a house and really, Mama is just a forgetful person. I can picture you a few years from now lecturing me on how I need to write something down or else I’ll just forget it. You’re going to be a sassy little lady, I’m just sure of it.

Wait, what am I saying? You’re already a sassy little lady, aren’t you? You have everyone under your pinky with that cute smile and blowing your kisses. You shake your head “no” even when the answer is “yes” just because you can. Even other parents talk about your cuteness and even when you’re not around. Seriously, y0u’ve got the whole world under your spell and you are oh so aware of it.

When I think back to two months ago, I am honestly amazed at how much you’ve changed. You sign “more”, “milk”, “dog”, “book”, “yay”, and you even signed “blue” when we showed you the sign the other day. Do you know what “blue” means? Probably not, but you sure did sign it! You call dogs “daw” and say “ah!” when you’re in agreement. You probably have about five times more signs than words, but that’s perfectly okay with me.

You love spinning in circles and recently figured out how to spin all by yourself. When I start spinning you look at me with a look that says “Oh my god! I forgot I can do that!” and then you spin with determination until you inevitably fall down laughing.

You even kicked a ball today! On purpose! And you throw the ball for the dog. Really only about a foot away, but you certainly expect her to fetch it for you. I have a genius for a child. I am simply sure of it.

You “read” books on your own. The other day you accidentally had a book upside down and you realized it and flipped it right side up. You also point to the bunnies in the books when I ask you to and you’ll go get more books if I ask (or for that matter don’t ask) you to.

You’ve discovered the joy of temper tantrums. You color and mostly don’t try to eat the crayons anymore. You help me dress you. You think that brushing your teeth is fun. You love yogurt and grapes. Really, you’re just a little person now, aren’t you?

Aww… Miss Peanut is growing up so fast.

Love,

Mama

Baby-led Weaning Wednesdays: Straws

We never used sippy cups because of the speech problems associated with them. So straight from the get-go we used a regular cup with Peanut. She couldn’t hold it herself, so we held it for her. It was cute for a few months, but then it became an annoyance.

She would whine when she wanted us to hold the water. She would try to hold it herself and spill it everywhere. I was constantly worried that she wasn’t getting enough water (which in hindsight is pretty silly because she was totally getting enough fluid from breastfeeding). So when my friend showed me how to teach her how to use a straw, I was ecstatic.

Little did I know it would take over a month of trying before she got it.

Now that she’s finally figured out how to drink from a straw, we bought her straw cups. After months of holding the glass for her, let me tell you these are pretty awesome. We bring it with us and she always has a drink. When we go to restaurants I’m never afraid the water will be too cold for her to drink or that they’ll forget and accidentally put ice in it. She carries it around the house just sipping away. It’s great.

So if you’re feeling frustrated about holding the cup all the time, try a straw. Then keep trying the straw because it may take some time.

Breastfeeding and Alcohol

I think a lot of nursing moms are under the false impression that you can’t drink while breastfeeding. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions on the subject, but I have yet to hear a medical professional say absolutely no alcohol while breastfeeding. Putting those kind of restrictions on breastfeeding moms will make more moms quit before they would otherwise and that is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do.

There are obviously stipulations with drinking while breastfeeding. First off, “pumping and dumping”—the idea of pumping your breasts and throwing the expressed milk away after drinking to get rid of the alcohol—doesn’t work. You may want to pump to get rid of milk so you don’t get engorged, but it won’t make it safe for baby to eat afterwards because alcohol will stay in your breast milk until it leaves your whole system.

Really, it’s probably safe for baby to eat afterwards anyway. I’ll explain the logic.

Breast milk alcohol levels mimic blood alcohol levels. So if I were really, really, really drunk, like shouldn’t be taking care of a child anyway drunk, like probably going to die soon drunk, my blood alcohol level would be  something like .2%. That means that when my nursling drinks my breast milk, it would be 2% alcohol. The hard lemonade that I have in my fridge right now is 5.5%. So she’s drinking the equivalent of something 1/25th as potent as the weakest alcohol on the market.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning getting drunk and breastfeeding all the time, but a glass of wine is unlikely to adversely effect your child. Of course every child is different and therefore handles your drinking different so you should start off slow and monitor your child. Even in small doses, you probably shouldn’t drink really frequently because prolonged exposure is more likely to hurt your nursling (not to mention your milk supply).

Baby’s age is an important factor too. Newborns are obviously less able to handle your drinking than a toddler. It’s also good to try to drink right after your nursling eats so that you have the most amount of time for the alcohol to get out of your system before nursing again. I also sleep on the couch for the beginning of the night when I’ve been drinking because co-sleeping isn’t safe when you’re impaired.

Really, there are a lot of little things you can do to ensure the least amount of risk when drinking and breastfeeding. Just because you’re breastfeeding doesn’t mean you can’t have a drink. If anything, I would say that relaxing with a glass of wine after a rough day with Peanut—like recently when her sleeping schedule when all out of wack from being sick and she decided to not nap all day—makes me a better mother because that relaxing enables me to wake up the next morning and handle her grumpiness all over again.

Healthy Living Saturdays: Update on Sugar

Photo Credit: FreckleFoot on Photobucket.com

Okay, so maybe I’m not made for this sugar-free thing. Desserts are my one vice and I don’t think I can give them up all together, but this week did make me re-evaluate my relationship with them. Desserts should not control me and I can control myself.

So rather than sugarless, I’m going to go with less sugar. Sugar will be something reserved for when Peanut is not around—which severely limits the amount of sugar I will have anyway—so that she can hopefully grow up without the addiction to sweets I obviously have. I will also limit myself to one sweet thing. That means no handful of chocolates and no eating five cookies at once. If the sweet thing I want is a candy bar, I will have one. If the sweet thing I want is cake, I will have one slice. It will also not be an every day thing. I will try to limit sweets to special occasions as much as possible. I will also try to limit myself to sweets I make myself at home so I can control the amount of sugar—and really everything—that goes into them.

I know it may be unfair to say no sweets for Peanut when I still get them, but it’s for her own good. Hopefully she can grow up without my habits and I can slowly grow out of them. There is absolutely no reason that she needs sweets when she’s so young.

So this brings me to a new question: grandparents. I’ve told them no sugar, but it’s not really doing much to deter them. They joke “Don’t tell Mommy” as they give her bites of their cookie. I don’t know if they don’t take me seriously or if they just don’t like denying their grand-daughter cookie when she’s asking for it.

Have you had this problem? How did you handle it? Am I making too big of a deal out of it? Maybe I should just let her grandparents be grandparents?