Baby’s Signs Are Indecipherable
She tries and tries and tries to mimic your signs, but you just aren’t sure what your baby is saying. Or perhaps she has two or three signs that resemble each other so much that you never know for sure which one she is using. These are common problems in signing families and are almost unavoidable. There are a few things you can do, however, to help translate your baby’s signs:
Consider the context of the sign. What is going on in baby’s environment? What time of day is it? For example, if it is mealtime and others are eating, your baby might be trying to make the sign for EAT.
Watch for visual clues. Is your baby doing anything else that would indicate her wants or needs? A baby who is alternating signing with rubbing her eyes is possibly trying to indicate sleep. One who is signing and pointing at the refrigerator may be asking for juice.
Avoid using like signs. In the beginning, try to avoid using signs with your baby that closely resemble each other, such as MORE and BALL. This will reduce potential confusion for both of you.
Ask for verbal verification of the sign. Babies often understand a spoken word long before they are able to say it. So if you think you know what your baby might be signing, just ask. An excited reaction is a good indication that you’ve interpreted correctly.
The longer your baby signs, the better she will become at forming the signs correctly. Likewise, the more you read her signs, the easier it will become for you. You will learn to interpret the little nuances that make her signs different from the standard formations. Just as you may have to work especially hard to understand your child’s speech when she learns to talk, it will take some time to understand her hand speak when she learns to sign.