Archive for Signing stories

My baby is asking for cookies!


When your baby starts signing, she might sign for things you don’t want her to have such as cookies for example. Normally babies cannot ask for specific things, so you would not be confronted with this situation at such an early age.

Here are some ideas how to handle the “cookie-question” with positive parenting techniques.

Just because your baby is able to communicate what she wants, doesn’t mean that you have to say ‘yes’ to everything. So, imagine your daughter signing that she wants a cookie; you don’t want her to have a cookie because it’s time to have lunch.

Knowing what your daughter wants, you can say:

‘No, you can’t have a cookie now because we are about to have lunch’.

Or an even better answer would be:

‘Yes, you can have a cookie when we have finished our lunch’.

Did you notice how starting the answer with ‘yes’ made it sound a lot less confrontational? Quite often you can turn your ‘no’ answer into a ‘yes’ answer, it takes some practice but is a great way to avoid arguments. If there is no alternative to a ‘no’ answer you can say something like:

‘I see that you would like a cookie, right now I can offer you a piece of banana or a piece of apple instead. What would you like?’

With this response you have signaled that you understand what your daughter wants and at the same time offered two alternative solutions she can choose from. Offering a choice of two similar things can be very powerful with a toddler.

I have to admit that it can be very hard to say ‘no’ to your child when the sign for ‘cookie’ is followed by the sign for ‘please’. My son kept up the sign for ‘please’ for a long time because he knew what effect it can have :-).

Oh and here is what the alternative without signs would probably look like: you are preparing lunch and your daughter is whining. Is she hungry, tired, bored? You don’t know. You can start the guessing game or offer your best-guess-solution such as ‘lunch will be ready in a moment (assuming that she is whining because she is hungry)’. What she really wants is a cookie though, so she will keep whining. She’ll probably feel frustrated because she doesn’t get her cookie and you might end up feeling stressed or frustrated because she doesn’t stop whining.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear about situations when you wished you knew what your baby really wanted, so you could give a suitable response. How do you think signing would have helped in those situations?

Why I don’t believe in the Cry It Out method …


3:30 am and my alarm goes off for yet another nappy change to make sure my daughter won’t wake up soaking wet again.

At 17 months, Briana easily drank a full bottle of water or more at night. At 9 months she started asking for water at night, at first only a few times. She would take a few sips from her bottle and happily go to sleep again. It did not take long and she woke five times per night on average to ask for water; sometimes a lot more often.

Her urge to drink seemed to get stronger because she soon put up a fight to keep the bottle in bed with her, clutching it tight the way other children might cuddle their favourite soft toy. Driven by sleep deprivation, we gave her the bottle. Now she would only wake us up when the bottle was empty but she emptied it faster and faster. So, we were still not sleeping through and she needed at least 2 nappy changes at night to keep her dry.

At 17 months we discovered the reason for her water drinking habit: she suffers from silent reflux and she used the water to soothe her pain. Clever little girl I thought while feeling bad of course that we had not figured this out any earlier. I was happy about two things though:

  • The fact that Briana had been able to ask for water from the age of 9 months. The sign for ‘drink’ was one of the first signs she picked up, maybe because of the soothing property water had for her. Had she not been able to sign ‘drink’, the pain would have made her cry and we would have had no idea how to help her. Yes, she still woke up a lot but at least her ability to sign helped her take charge of the situation.
  • Our decision not to follow our pediatrician’s advice to let her cry it out next time she asks for water at night. She was convinced that it was just a habit Briana had developed. I don’t even want to think about what the cry it out method would have done to her.

It was our GP who suspected silent reflux and she prescribed some medication that showed results very quickly. Of course by now the water bottle was Briana’s life line at night and she did not give it up easily, not trusting the medication right away. We had ups and downs because drinking too much water after the medication meant that it would loose its effect. With a lot of patience and understanding for Briana’s fear of pain, we managed to wean her off the bottle at night (at least for most nights and when she’s not teething :-)).

To all sleep deprived parents: I’m sending you lots of energy and patience, not being able to sleep through the night for long periods of time is very tough. It’s hard on you and it’s hard on your baby too.

I would love to hear your comments on the cry it out method.

What baby sign language can do for you …

When was the last time you wished you could read your baby’s mind?

Instead of trying to be a mind reader enable your baby to communicate through baby sign language.

Learn this fun and easy way to communicate with your baby and enable your little one to share with you exactly what she wants, needs and is interested in. Baby sign language, used effectively, will help you

    • feel more relaxed and confident about your parenting and
    • reduce frustration for you and your child.

I bet the moments when you most wish you’d understand your baby’s thoughts are those when:

    • Your baby is crying and you have no idea why (you have checked the most obvious possible reasons twice already but baby is still crying) you are worried, feel helpless and your stress level is rising or
    • Your baby is complaining about something and you are finding yourself in yet another guessing game trying to figure out what she might want or why she is not happy

Wouldn’t it also be wonderful if:

    • Your daughter could simply tell you when she is hungry, tired, hurt herself or needs a nappy change
    • Your son could share his thoughts, tell you what he likes and what he doesn’t like, what excited him, what makes him laugh and what scares him
    • You had a way to read your baby’s mind not only to avoid frustration, stressful situations and guessing games but also to be able to build a strong relationship because you understand …

Baby sign language

I have compiled some wonderful signing anecdotes told by mamas from around the world in my free e-Book Wanna Rock for Your Baby? 12 Compelling Reasons to Sign with Your Hearing Child.

Baby sign language - free e-Book

Babies can construct language in their head from as early as 9 months of age. Did you know that? The thing is the complex musculature and sufficient control over the vocal cords needed for speech develop much later (a 3-word vocabulary is average for a 15 month old toddler). What does develop at about the same time as the ability to construct language is the ability to communicate with gestures or signs. Babies of deaf parents have done it for decades, your baby can do this too!

I have had a passion for communication ever since I was a baby. My mum tells me that I started to speak when I was only 9 months old (this is unusually early and I was called the talking baby as a result). From my mum I also know that up until then I was a very grumpy baby. Language opened the world to me, so it is maybe not surprising that I chose a career in marketing communications. When my son, Tristan, was born in 2008 I realized that 10 years of professional experience in communications were worth very little when it came to my baby.

When I heard about baby sign language I knew this had my name written all over it. I introduced my son to baby signing with incredible success. He spoke 6 words and actively used 32 signs with only 12 months. At the age of two he was fluent in his two primary languages (German and Dutch) by which time he had also developed an impressive English vocabulary. He hardly ever cried and has always been able to express himself very well. This experience and my desire to find a more meaningful path professionally led me to the decision to share my method of using baby sign language effectively with other mamas. I taught live classes until my daughter was born in February 2012. Her birth and my desire to reach more families around the globe, were the reasons to launch my baby signing e-Courses.

My daughter is now 13 months and has an active vocabulary of about 60 words (a mixture of spoken words, signs and a combination of the two). The average vocabulary of a two year old is 50 words.


Baby sign language - free e-Book

Here is what 2 mamas say about my first baby signing e-Course Understand Your Baby’s Thoughts – 5 Simple Signs that open the Door to Your Baby’s Mind:

Thank you Diana for this wonderful course! I found the audio recordings were great for listening to in the car and on my phone… Truly portable and time saving! I’m also happy to report 9 month old Miguel has learned to use 4 signs during this course! It took much longer for my older son to begin signing and I think UYBT was a big factor in this. Keep it up, this is a great resource!

Sandra, mama of Miguel

My 13 month old daughter and I loved the online Understand Your Baby’s Thought course! It was full of interesting information, fun activities and a structured easy-to-follow approach for a working Mama to learn signing with her baby. Thank you!!

Deirdre, mama of Giulia

Baby sign language - free e-Book


My baby daughter telling me about rain, lights and bed time

I will never cease to be amazed by the comprehension of a baby. Babies’ cognitive capabilities are so easily underestimated simply because of the absence of language. It doesn’t have to be that way – babies can communicate long before they can speak, we just need to give them the tools …

My baby daughter has a 15-sign vocabulary at 10 months

Signing allows us to get and insight into our babies’ thoughts which is so much more than a wonderful experience:

  • my 10 month old daughter uses signs for words she recognises in a conversation, which tells me that she is attentively following what we are talking about
  • every time she wakes up (in the morning and after her naps) we look through the window together and I tell her about things we see; as it has been raining a lot recently, I have used the sign for rain a few times during our ‘window-moments’. Yesterday morning I said ‘Shall we see if it’s raining?’ and Briana immediately signed ‘rain’, leaving me stunned. Today she asked for ‘more’ when I took her away from the window 🙂
  • she excitedly points to the ceiling light, signing ‘light’ telling me that she finds light fascinating; knowing that she is preoccupied with the light, she puts me in the position to engage in a conversation about the light (repeating the sign for ‘light’) which in turn makes her smile
  • when she’s finished her evening milk (signing ‘milk’ while she is waiting for me to prepare her bottle and continuing to sign ‘milk’ while she is drinking), she happily signs ‘bed’ telling me that she knows it’s time for bed

Briana only just turned 10 months and she already has a vocabulary of 15 signs (hello, good bye, milk, eat, drink, more, all done, cracker, dog, sleep, bed, light, shoes, hat and rain); how wonderful is that!

The method I use to enable my daughter to share her thoughts, is the method I teach in my courses, so you too can enable your baby to communicate before s/he can speak.

What other mums say about the course:

>>This has been a great course, it has opened my eyes to baby signing, something I really had not thought about before. The e-course format works really well for studying in the evenings and for practicing with my daughter during the day. Thank you for opening my eyes to signing and for improving communications in our family<<

Mette, mama of Zoeli

>>With my husband as a witness, Lena signed ‘milk’ this morning already sitting up in her bed  and smiling at the day. And yes, she wanted to drink ‘more’ at breakfast when I latched her on. We are stunned. The course helped me realize that my baby daughter already wants to tell me so many things (what she sees, hears, feels, wants to know, needs,  …). I also enjoyed the more general parenting (non-signing related) tips included in the course.<<

Elke, mama of Lena

>>I was at the sea during the holidays and Eva signed ’eat’ four times. I was very surprised and happy!!<<

Marilaure, mama of Eva

>>Every day is a surprise signing with Luka. Today we had a wonderful experience while skyping with my mum and grandma: I started to kiss Luka all around his neck and cheeks to make him smile and as soon as I stopped  he signed ‘more’!  I’m really enjoying the signing with him…<<

Adriana, mama of Luka

>>I really like the online nature of this course, and I think it’s great that you’ve maximised social media, internet and modern technology to bring the most to each part of the course.<<

Grace, mama of Louis

>>Diana, the course is great, I’m really enjoying it, you are very clear and I’m sure that in a few weeks I’ll be able to understand and communicate with my daughter.<<


>>Very clear and encouraging. Thank you<<


Her brother calls her ‘princess’

Tristan hugging Briana

When I’m having trouble getting Tristan out of bed in the mornings, I know what I need to do. I have his 9 month old sister, Briana, do the waking up. I put her in his his bed, belly on belly. While she starts crawling all over him and gently (or sometimes not so gently) discovers his face with her little hands, Tristan’s arms reach out and fold around his little sister giving her the most loving hug. All this while his eyes are still closed, then I see a beautiful smile on his face and I know the day can begin.

This morning scene lets my mother heart overflow with joy; and it could so easily be different. Briana has been a cry baby until very recently and it’s been very hard on all of us but I feel especially hard on Tristan. Not only did he have to share mummy with his little sister; no, his little sister asked for so much of mummy’s attention that there was so little left for him. Far too many times I snapped at him simply because of the nerve-wrecking crying (or rather screaming) and the sleep deprivation and not because he deserved it. Screaming through countless dinner times, too loud to have a conversation. Plenty of bed time stories cut short because I could not read louder than Briana would cry. He could have so easily blamed it all on his sister. So you can imagine that I’m thrilled to bits when I see how much he loves her. Since she is better he calls her ‘princess’. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

In these past 3 weeks, Briana has truly blossomed. She is now actively using four sings, so she can tell me about ‘dogs‘, wave ‘hello‘, let me know when she wants to ‘drink‘ and tell me when she wants ‘more‘. She started to crawl, she eats finger food all by herself, she consistently stretches her arms high above her head to the question ‘How tall is Briana?’, she roars like a lion when you ask her ‘What does the lion say’ and she will happily clap her hands to the German children’s song ‘Backe, backe Kuchen’. She takes her milk from the bottle and mostly falls asleep by herself (I used to feed her to sleep on the breast) and since daddy has taken over the night shift, she now only wakes up once or twice for a sip of water and goes back to sleep (we’ve come from me feeding her 4 or 5 times per night to avoid her screaming). We finally have time and energy to look at books, sit on the floor to play with her toys, make music and explore this wonderful world together.

At the weekends, Tristan now gets his good night stories after his sister has gone to sleep and we cuddle up in his bed together. We also made and decorated biscuits which he thoroughly enjoyed :-).

I feel blessed with my family.

See Tristan and Briana playing the bongo drums together:

Briana signing 'drink'

How tall is Briana?


And last but not least, see a happy little girl make some of her first crawling moves:

Give your baby a chance to sign

When I gave Briana her lunch today I had forgotten to put her water on the table. I fed her a few spoons of her food and then she signed ‘drink’ as if she’s always been doing this. I’ve been using the sign pretty much since she has started eating solid food (from 6 months) but she has never actively used it. And to be honest there has not really been a need for her to use it, because I probably offered more water than she wanted. Sometimes we need to give our children a chance to sign.

She has also had a good go at the sign for ‘more’ and when we went for a walk today (she was tilted all the way back in her stroller ready to go to sleep), our neighbour walked past and said hello. When Briana heard me say ‘hello’ back she started waving even though she could not see the neighbour and I had not waved at him. I first thought it was a coincidence that she made a waving motion right at that moment but she did it again when her big brother came home and when we saw the grandparents on Skype. That’s three new signs in one day (two days before she’ll be 9 months). I’m chuffed my little princess.

If you are as curious as I am to find out which sign she will add next, keep following …

I love Nemo!

During our last stay with my grandparents in Germany (I turned 8 months when we were there) everyone seemed to be tapping their thighs when my hairy friend Nemo was around. I had no idea what that was all about but thought that maybe Nemo likes it. As I’m crazy about Nemo, I decided to join in.

After a while I noticed that they were still doing it when they only talked about Nemo and he could not even see it. Hmmm, so you tap your thigh when he is around and when you talk about him, ok, I can do that too.

Back home, I tried it out when I saw a picture of Nemo and mummy got all excited. Saying ‘yes, that’s right, honey, that’s Nemo and he is a dog’ while tapping her thigh again. So then I was wondering what would happen when I tap my thigh when I see a picture of a different dog and put it to the test: it produced the same excitement with mummy! I’m getting the hang of this, whenever I see a dog, I can let mummy know by tapping my thigh, fantastic!

Yesterday, I spotted a dog on mummies Facebook page (I was sitting on her lap), so I tapped her thigh to let her know. It was a funny looking dog though with red reindeer antlers on his head :-).

I can teach you too, watch me in this video.

Mama, I can clap

At seven months Briana started bringing her hands together in what resembled a clapping motion. She is now seven and a half months and happily clapping at any opportunity. She looks very proud about herself when she sees our encouraging reaction. We have been practicing clapping along to the German children’s song ‘Backe, backe Kuchen’. Now it seems that she wants me to sing the song when she claps, testing action and reaction.

Clapping just like waving hello and good bye are gestures that we naturally teach our children. Using signs when we communicate is simply taking this a good step further.

The clapping motion is a good preparation for symmetrical two handed signs such as the sings for ‘more’, ‘hurt’ and ‘ball’.

Bringing the hands together at the center of the body assists in mid-line alignment which is important for balance. This motion also promotes left (logical) and right (intuitive) brain hemispheres working together.

Finally sitting up!

My little daughter, Briana, is six months old now and she is so excited about being allowed to sit in her high chair. If it was her choice, she would have been in that chair much earlier :-). For me the chair came together with introducing solid foods to her. She is still a little wobbly but loves eating from a spoon and drinking from a cup. And I love the fact that she is facing me at meal times. This opens up a whole new possibility for signing with her and I have introduced the following meal time signs: eat, drink, more, all done. When she is not distracted by her brother, Tristan, she is fascinated with my hands. I’m soooo curious as to when she will start to sign back and what her first sign might be.

See Tristan signing ‘eat’, ‘more’, ‘all done’, ‘cracker’ and ‘down’

Determination at 12 months

When Tristan was a baby he loved crackers. He loved them so much that he could  master an approximation of the sign for ‘cracker’ and say the word at 12 months. One day, he desperately wanted to get up onto the sofa, signing and saying ‘up’ and getting frustrated about the fact that no one helped him up quickly enough. Finally on the sofa, he pointed to a plate with crackers on the coffee table followed by signing ‘eat’ and ‘cracker’.

I managed to get all of this on video. I put the camera down to give him a cracker so unfortunately you can not see the smile on his face when he had finally gotten what he really wanted.

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