Two Good Signs

January 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm 7 comments

We do a little bit of sign language with little Sagan. He only knows a
few signs, but even with a limited vocabulary, we found it to be a helpful experience.

Two quick examples:

Sagan uses the sign “More” mostly as “Want”. It doesn’t necessarily mean he covets more of something… it means he wants something…and it can be something entirely new. Luckily, since he mastered pointing as well, he usually signed “More” and then pointed to what he wanted.

How to Sign More From BabySignLanguage.Com
“More” (Source:

Now he says “Mo” verbally as well. Nonetheless, we still have moments where it takes a little deduction to figure out exactly what he wants.

Sagan: Mo?
Vicky: Milk?
Sagan: Mo?
Ryan: Grape?
Sagan: Mo?
Vicky: Cheerio?
Sagan: MO!
Ryan: Nana?
Sagan:(increasingly frustrated) MO! MO! MO!

[It turned out he wanted to play with a fork… In case you don’t know what a fork is– It is a type of silverware with four sharp prongs that would each be absolutely fabulous for piercing the eyeballs of curious babies.]

We’re working on introducing more signs to alleviate this type of confusion…though considering his recent obsession, I think we are going to abstain from teaching him “fork”. : )

Our biggest success story with the word “More” came in early November. Little Sagan contracted a stomach flu and spend an evening vomiting (mostly on or over Mommy’s shoulder). The next day, he had a lot of clear liquids and as the day progressed we decided to introduce solids back. We decided to go with some noodles from chicken noodle soup.

We gave him a few spoonfuls and all of a sudden Sagan started coughing.

Ryan and I froze. Was this just a “cough” cough? Was this a “something went down the wrong pipe” cough? OR…. was this the dreaded “WATCH OUT– HE’S GONNA BLOW!” cough?

Well as soon as Sagan finished coughing, he couldn’t understand why we were just standing there.

“More!” He signed, “More!”

And just like that, his cough was no longer ambiguous. We knew our little guy was on the mend. Just from a single sign.

“Help” is really new to Sagan’s vocabulary. He literally picked it up a week ago, but I have seen enough of a positive effect to warrant documenting.

How to Sign "Help" From BabySignLanguage.Com
“Help” (Source:

When I was first dating my husband, my mother-in-law had some preciously embarrassing stories about how baby Ryan would try to do something beyond his means (like picking up his daddy’s heavy barbells). My mother-in-law reported that little Ryan would scream and scream and scream at the exertion and frustration of the task, but wouldn’t give up.

I don’t have the data to determine if that reaction is common among all babies, but I do know little Sagan deals with challenging tasks in a similar manner. Toy out of reach? Grunt / Scream / Cry. This shape doesn’t fit into the hole you think it should? Grunt / Scream / Cry. The truck you are trying to roll is stuck on the area rug? Grunt / Scream / Cry.

Then last week he learned “Help”. Adding one little word to his vocabulary has given Sagan a whole other option to dealing with tough tasks. Instead of getting frustrated to point of screaming and crying, he simply looks over at the nearest adult.

He gestures his hands in his unique rendition of “Help” and sometimes even says, “ pa pa”

It’s sweet. But don’t worry– Ryan and I don’t get off that easily! Little Sagan still has plenty of “legitimate” causes to get upset.

All we have to do is confiscate or deprive him of a fork. : )

P.S. If you are interesting in accounts from other parents, Ryan and I found the post “Baby Sign Language as a Window into Comprehension (or lack thereof)” from Kitty’s Heart of Nature to be particularly inspirational.

P.S.S. If you have a sign or word that was particularly helpful with your children, definitely share! We’re still new parents and are always eager to increase our own knowledge!

Entry filed under: Baby Sign Language, Parenting.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. becky  |  January 2, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Love this. Especially “more” meaning “want.” Also, yes, I think it’s very common for youngsters to attempt things beyond their capabilites, to become very frustrated by failure, and to continue trying until they achieve it. Like Ryan, Clint engaged in a lot of this behavior.

    • 2. tgaw  |  January 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Becky! I also enjoyed picturing a little, tiny, adorable Clint getting frustrated. : )

  • 3. Christina G  |  January 2, 2013 at 2:03 am

    We found hungry and thirsty to be very useful. We didn’t do many signs, just a few basics, but they were very helpful.

    • 4. tgaw  |  January 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Ooh thanks for the tip Christina! We’ll work those in!!! Hope you and the boys are fully recovered now and having a spectacular new year!

  • 5. becky  |  January 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Vicky, the “frustrated tantrums” aren’t restricted to boys. When Britt was very young, she decided that she wanted to draw a unicorn rearing up on its back legs. She worked on it for hours (actually, it may have been days), occasionally throwing her pencil down and erupting into prolonged, anquished cries, similar in tone to a banshee’s wailing. But eventually, she completed the picture to her satisfaction. 🙂

  • 6. geekhiker  |  January 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    My Mom taught deaf and hard-of-hearing students for over a decade when I was a kid. It’s all good now, but just wait until Sagan learns how to sign all the swear words!

  • 7. Jesse  |  March 17, 2013 at 12:00 am

    OMG, love it! My 16 month son’s 1st word was not Mama or Dada but MORE! I was just told using sign can help comminicating with baby! Thanks!


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