Signs of Discomfort and Illness
Is there anything more disheartening as a parent than knowing that your child is upset, but not knowing exactly what the problem is? It is particularly distressing when your baby is ill or in pain and you don’t know how to alleviate his discomfort. This is a source of major frustration for both you and your baby. The signs in this section will allow your baby to tell you when he is sick or when something hurts. As he discovers this newfound power of communication, he will likely take great comfort in it.
As your baby becomes proficient in these signs, he will probably begin to indicate which part of his body is causing him discomfort. For example, he may make the sign for PAIN and then point to his stomach to indicate a tummy ache.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while for your baby to master these signs. They represent intangible concepts, and there are typically few opportunities to demonstrate them. However, if you practice these signs every time you get the chance, your child will eventually learn them.PAIN/HURT
Introducing a baby to the sign for PAIN (
1. Bring your hands in front of your body and point your index fingers at one another.
2. Twist your fingers in opposite directions.
One effective way to introduce this sign is to demonstrate it when you have hurt yourself. In addition, take advantage of small ouchies (such as a fall on the bottom or a light bump on the head) that your baby experiences. These minor incidents are not likely to be as distracting to your baby, but they will still allow him to grasp the concept of pain. Another opportunity for instruction is during teething, as it will occur frequently and last a while. There are not too many advantages to the pain of teething, but this is one of them.HELP
Circumstances may arise when your child needs help in accomplishing a task. Whether it be getting a favorite toy off a just-out-of-reach shelf or opening a closet or cupboard, the sign for HELP can be a useful tool.
1. Spread your hand open in front of you, palm upward.
2. With your other hand, make a fist, extending your thumb upward.
3. Place the bottom of your fist on top of your palm and raise both hands upward.
SICK, as shown in Figure 8–6, is a sign that is very easy to form but very difficult to comprehend.
1. Touch your middle finger to your forehead.
Additionally, your child could point to the area of the body that does not feel well, like his stomach. Unless your baby is frequently ill, however, you will have few opportunities to demonstrate it. Even then, it may take some time for your child to associate the sign with the feeling. For babies who are seldom sick, the days following routine immunizations are an ideal time to practice this sign.POTTY SIGN
From early on, babies recognize that a dirty diaper causes some discomfort. When your child discovers that he can get a diaper changed by a seemingly magic wave of his hands, he will undoubtedly delight in making his request. However, don’t be surprised if you occasionally end up changing a clean and dry diaper. Sometimes babies practice their signs just for fun.DIAPER
The sign for DIAPER, as shown in Figure 8–7, comes from the act of pinning a diaper closed.
1. Hold your hands in front of your waist with your fingers pointed downward.
2. Make a pinching motion with your index and middle fingers against your thumbs.
This motion may seem foreign to your baby, so if you find that he is seemingly scratching at his diaper, he may actually be signing.