Things my toddler says…

Now that Ian’s talking has kicked into high gear, he has started to say some of the funniest things. I compiled a list of his frequent utterances for your enjoyment.

1. “Good job, ma!”
Yes, my son calls me “ma.” No, I don’t have a clue why. He calls my husband daddy, he calls our pets by their correct names. But I have always been ma. Thanks, kid. Putting that aside, this phrase seems to imply that I must reinforce his good behavior frequently. When he eats all his dinner, I normally say “good job, Ian!” Or when he takes a bite of food after some coaxing, “nice bite, Ian!” And when he gets up the playground steps and then down the slide all by himself, I normally congratulate him on that, too. So now the silly stink has started doing it to me. Case in point: I followed Ian down a slide, and he exclaimed proudly “Good job, ma!” He even threw in a little clap. Thanks, bud…thanks.

2. “Yucky, gross!”
This one is all me, too. When Ian would try to pick up something gross or dirty (like trash outside or whatever), I would say “No, don’t touch. That’s yucky…gross.” So now when he sees something he perceives to be nasty, his little brow furrows and he tells me, in a serious tone, “yucky, gross!”

3. “(insert name of anything here), Where are you!”
This is a favorite. Can’t find daddy? Why not call for him (“Daddy, where are you!”). Also applies to pets. And me. And even inanimate objects, such as Blankie (“Blankie! Where are you!”).

4. “I do it!”
Ah, yes…the strong, independent toddler has squirmed his way outside of my sweet little boy. It doesn’t matter what it is (throwing away trash, turning lights on or off, taking off a coat, etc)…apparently he has it handled and can do it. Don’t get me wrong, I love he is finding his independence and learning to do things for himself. But sometimes I forget and turn the light on myself…and then oh dear lord- the world ends. A toddler meltdown ensues until I turn the light off again and let him do it…

5. “I fall!”
This is used as both a prediction for the future and a statement of fact from a past event. For instance, Ian was climbing on a kitchen chair and apparently felt unsteady, so he said (in a slightly worried tone) “I fall!” To which I replied “You won’t fall if you are careful.” (This seemed to satisfy him). And then, we were playing outside and he tripped and fell. He stood up, looked at me and said “Ow. I fall down.” Yep, you sure did. Thanks for the announcement.

What are some things your little talkers say? Anything good that makes you just laugh out loud?

“All Done” and other favorites

Ian’s speech is rapidly expanding with each passing day. Where just 6 months ago we were slightly concerned about his lack of desire to speak, he is talking constantly now. Granted, not all of it is intelligible, but a good chunk of it is. It is so amazing to me that he can put together thoughts and words and actions and actually attempt to have a conversation with us! 

He has been cracking us up with the things he’s been saying recently.  Here are some of his most used words and phrases so far.

1. “All done???” This is stated/asked multiple times a day. Done with eating? Done with a bath? Want to go back inside after playing outside? All are apparently appropriate times to use this.

2. “Where’d it go???” (Can substitute other pronouns here) The best thing about this phrase is the accompanying gesture- palms up, arms outstretched, with a shoulder strug. Absolutely adorable. This is used during peekaboo; when someone leaves the room; when a toy is missing; when he kicks/throws the ball out of sight; when the pets run away…

3. “Uh oh!” This, too, is ridiculously adorable. Used when we pause, fast forward, or rewind the TV. And when something is dropped or knocked over. Coincidentally, also used when Ian decides to drop something “by accident”.

4. “Itchy!” Somehow I inadvertently taught Ian this word. He has eczema so often has itchy flare up areas, and we use itch cream and lotion to help keep it in check. But he still gets itchy, and when he does, he walks around pointing to whatever area itches and whines “itchy, itchy!” until we apply some type of cream/lotion.

5. “No.” Apparently an acceptable response to any and every question. Even when the answer is really yes. 

Do you have a new talker? What are some adorable things your little one likes to utter?

Baby Sign Language- What’s the Deal?

When I was pregnant with Ian, I did a lot of reading about baby sign language.  I had friends who had done sign language with their kids and swore that it was an extremely useful tool for aiding in communication.  It made sense to me- babies and young toddlers can’t talk, but they still have needs to be met.  If you don’t have to guess at their needs, the frustration level all around should go down.  Makes sense in theory, but does it really work?

The short answer… yes.

So you might be wondering- how?!  How do I go about teaching this little baby (who can barely sit upright) how to sign?  And is it worth it?

I’ll start with answering the “is it worth it?” question.  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!  I won’t say that our ability to communicate with sign language eliminated all of our melt downs, but it has made them easier to manage.  If we could get Ian to calm down enough to have a “conversation”, we could generally get him to use his sign language to help explain what he wants.  Since Ian’s my first, and I don’t have experience with a kid who doesn’t do sign language, I can’t really tell you that this is the only way or even the best way.  But it worked for us.

So now to the how.  There are tons of great (free!) resources online to help learn sign language.  Whenever I want to teach Ian a new word, but I don’t know the sign, I look it up.  My first site of choice is always www.babysignlanguage.com.  They have a list of “starter” signs which are great starting points if you’re wondering what in the heck to teach your kid first.  But they also have a pretty extensive dictionary.  All of the signs have pictures and most have videos.  So it does make it pretty easy if you’re willing to actually do that initial research!

I initially had all these grand plans of flash cards and baby books and videos… etc to share with Ian to facilitate teaching him sign language.  But I found that I really didn’t need any of it.  Consistent exposure to the signs was all that was required.  I started signing to him when he was maybe a few months old, using just one or two signs to start.  First priority was “milk” and second was “more”- those seemed like fairly important signs since all he did at that age was eat!  He was too small to sign back, but I was hoping he’d start to learn the association, and that this might help later on as we continued sign language.  Finally, at about 8 or 9 months old, Ian started signing back!  It was really exciting to see his little hands move to “tell” me what he wanted.  As he got those first signs down, I slowly started introducing more.  I tried to limit my initial signs to “needs” (eat, drink, etc) since I figured these would be the main tantrum causes.  But it was also fun to introduce other signs, like cat, dog, and car, so we could communicate about other things that were part of our day.  And of course we had to throw in mommy and daddy!

Since my husband and I work full time, we were extremely fortunate that our day care center also teaches sign language.  Getting some type of sign language instruction at home and at “school” really helped cement the gestures and concepts into his mind.  We could have still managed without having day care involved, but it definitely helped grow his catalogue of signs.  In fact, there’s some days when he comes home and teaches us new signs!

Now, at almost 20 months, we’re working on speaking more and signing less, but I do find that signing helps bridge the gap between the word and its meaning.  For example, if we want him to say the word please, we speak it, sign it, and then ask him to repeat.  If he does just the sign, we speak it again, and wait for him to repeat.  Eventually, he speaks it.  We’ve been working on it for a few months now, and we are noticing that his first inclination is to speak now instead of sign, except in cases where he’s unsure of the word or pronunciation.  Then he signs and speaks at the same time.  It’s pretty amazing what kids can do, isn’t it?!

Do you do sign language with your little one(s)?  Did you find it helped in any way?