It’s been said that a baby who gets exceptional service from their parents will delay speaking. Why would they have to? However, a child who gets bad service will tend to speak up much sooner to voice their opinion. Now doing a bad job at meeting your child’s needs is a bit extreme, you can cut back on your attentiveness in other ways without letting your baby suffer.
Do to this, just offer choices – even if you know for sure what your baby wants. Say your baby wants a banana, and you know this because your baby is whining and pointing toward the one you’re already eating. So what – how about offering your baby a choice between the banana and, say, an apple. You can make the choice more immediate by showing your baby both at the same time, then asking your baby which they would rather have. Naturally, your baby is probably just going to want to point so now is the time to delay giving him the fruit. Delaying gratification is another way to provide your baby with the incentive to sign. Now re-show the fruit and ask again which of the two your baby wants. Do the sign for each so you know that your baby remembers how to do them. Wait again to give your baby another shot. If this doesn’t work and your baby will let you, guide their hands to do each sign and see if that helps your baby do the sign on his own.
If after a while, your baby still doesn’t sign, there’s no reason to continue the torment, just hand the fruit of their choice over. Before doing it you might say “Oh, I see you really want the BANANA.” Be sure to sign it again. As your baby eats the banana, bring it up in conversation with him and do the sign. Associate the fruit as much as you can while your baby is enjoying the taste, texture, smell and can see its shape and colour. All of these factors will help your baby recall the sign back and request the fruit on his own.
By delaying gratification, just by a few minutes, you are giving your baby a shot to control their environment using language – and that’s what it’s all about!