The acquisition of language skills in infants is more than a little bit difficult to predict. Babies develop in a wide and varying “normal” range. While some vowel sounds and simple consonant sounds seemed to be mastered in baby babble, it is nearly impossible to determine when an infant is going to use those sounds to communicate in words with deliberation.
In an effort to aid communication with our babies, my husband and I introduced to our children at around six months an array of simple signs. The hope was that the combination of sounds and the signs would helps us understand what our young children were trying to tell us. This method worked incredibly well with our son, but our daughter seems to be very resistant. While she recognizes the signs that we do regularly with her, she rarely ever attempts to sign back. Furthermore, the one sign she used consistently, “milk,” she no longer uses. She finds other ways to communicate which are not always as clear as signing. Her use of sounds is largely nonspecific. She can say what sounds like “mama” and “da” but most of her sounds do not clearly express what she needs or wants.
Then one day our daughter learned to say the word “up.” She wants “up” all the time. She walks up to my husband or I or other family member, puts her arms over her head, and says, “up, up, up…” until she is picked up. As soon as she figured out the we understood what she was saying, she started to use the word “up” for other things too. Now instead of signing milk when she wants to nurse she says, “up.” Instead of signing more or saying “ma” when she wants more of a particular food, she says, “up.” “Up” is the new go to word for our daughter. I just hope she is at least open to signing at some point in the near future!