Monday, April 2, 2012

One Point for Momsie and One Point for Popsicle

My husband and I are usually are on one accord in parenting. We agree about values, discipline, and most parenting strategies. We've had just a couple of minor disagreements. This week, we each had a chance to say, "I told you so!"

My victory first. Since about four months old, I've been trying to introduce the baby to some basic sign language. I know there are many benefits to teaching a baby basic signs. Research in this area has shown that babies that acquire symbolic gestures have larger expressive and receptive language capacities, more advanced mental development, a reduction in problematic behaviors such as tantrums due to frustration, and improved parent-child relationships (Acredolo, 1999; Goodwyn, 2000). Sounds good to me!

I've especially focused my efforts on the signs for "more" and "finished." At mealtimes, it is sometimes hard to know when the baby is done eating, and the guessing game can lead to a melt-down. The sign for "finished" is much like if you were gesturing "so-so" with both hands- holding hands parallel, palms together, and waving back and forth. I do this consistently at mealtimes. About a week ago, my dear husband suggested that my efforts were in vain. The baby was screaming, we didn't know if he was done or wanted something different, so after shoving every different food from the table in his face and being met with continued screaming, I tried the "finished" sign. More screaming. My husband then declared that the baby would probably learn to talk before he ever waved his hand in a finished sign. I must say, my bubble burst. I know that we aren't able to practice the signs as much as I'd like, but thought surely they'd pay off some day. Since that day, I've been waving "finished" with much less gusto.

Until yesterday. At the end of a meal of chicken and potatoes, the baby's eating slowed down and he began playing with the chicken. When I tried to put some in his mouth, he looked me in the eye, held up his hand, and waved it in the "finished" sign! My husband and I both recognized immediately what he had communicated. We cheered and the baby grinned his most proud grin. One point for Momsie!

Now for Daddy's victory; also a dinnertime accomplishment. In all my momsie wisdom, I declared early on that our baby would not drink from a sippy cup. There has been some evidence from the American Academy of Pediatrics that a sippy cup can promote tooth decay. I want my child to have beautiful chompers. I decided a straw cup would be okay, and there are some nice ones on the market. I bought one recommended by friends whose babies already used the straw cup, and got to practicing with the baby.

Despite all my great enthusiasm and reinforcement, that darn straw cup was a major source of frustration. Each mealtime I would squirt a variety of liquids in baby's mouth while he shook his head in refusal. Somehow even while resting, the liquid would come up the straw and spill all over. None of it was ingested by the baby. My husband finally suggested we trash the straw cup and try a more traditional sippy cup. NO WAY! The straw cup would eventually work, I argued, we just needed more time and patience.

But, as the baby's year birthday approached, I saw that we were not making progress. I noticed every baby in public that was drinking from a cup and guessed at their age. Younger than our baby and drinking from a cup? Must be a genius baby. I finally realized that maybe it is true, each child is different. What works for one may not work for another. I bought a sippy cup.

At the cup's first introduction the baby grabbed it by the handles, threw his head back, and inserted the cup into his mouth. Great joy filled his face at the taste of the yogurt-juice and he kept throwing back the cup until it was half gone. The straw-cup went in the trash and Daddy was given a point.

All-in-all, I don't think my husband or I are really keeping score. We are just so proud to see each new accomplishment! Nothing compares to the look of pride on the baby's face when he's learned something new. I wouldn't trade it for all the points in the world.


  1. Congrats! I taught both of my children sign language also. Worked wonders. I added your blog button to my site here.

  2. Congratulations! I remember when our older daughter signed her first word (more). We were so excited! It's amazing to watch them grow.


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