This is one of the most important signs to teach your baby. It will save you many headaches and worry. Imagine knowing when your baby is ill to their stomach, has stubbed their toe, bumped their head, or has a toothache. Once your baby knows the sign for HELP these mysterious ailments won’t be any longer.
Keep in mind too, that when a baby cries out, we never quite know the genre of the pain. Pain can come from such varied sources as hunger, thirst, a dirty diaper, wanting sleep or even wanting to be picked up. How can these be separated from the hurt a baby feels when they fall and bump their head or scrape a finger? Signs.
Start teaching this sign early and with all opportunities. Obviously, you don’t want to purposely hurt your baby just to teach it, but trust me, once baby is mobile, they’re going to cause themselves some harm no matter how careful we, and they are. The sign is done by moving the index finger of each hand toward one another fingertip to fingertip several times. The sign is done near the source of the pain, so if your baby hurts their finger in a drawer you will do the sign near their hands. When baby bumps their head, do the sign for hurt near their head. Since this is out of sign, you will rub their head first to draw attention to it, then do the sign.
Alternatively, you can teach the sign for HURT but showing your baby any scratches you’ve done to yourself. Just point out the scrape and do the sign near it for your baby’s benefit. If they have scratches, you can also point these out after the fact – even several days later. You can also hire a volunteer stand-in. Stuffed animals can be tossed on the floor, be picked up, then asked if they are hurt. Just do the do the sign over their body saying “Is teddy HURT?” “Did teddy HURT their head?” “Did teddy HURT their leg?” and so forth. This should be repeated several times. You can also play dummy yourself! Just pretend to hurt yourself by falling down dramatically and repeat the process by showing your baby that you have hurt yourself.
I would also recommend teaching your baby about teeth since new teeth can be so painful to your baby and appear mysteriously in the middle of the night. Best to arm your baby with language that will help them through this as soon as possible. I taught my son where is teeth were by showing him mine, helping to find his stuffed animal’s teeth (his HIPPO, DINOSAUR, and his mom!) He’d readily point all of them out and eventually found his teeth too. When all was said and done, he had the signs he needed to point out teething pain. Contrast this with a baby without sign, crying seemingly for no reason at all, or just generally being cranky. I can speak of at least one example where signs would have made all the difference to a baby and mother who actually did suspect, but was unsure, that her baby’s mood was due to teething – my sister! Not knowing for sure, meant days of complaining. Her son had just turning verbal and was getting his molars in – early at that so, completely unexpectedly. Finally, after being prompted, he pointed out an “aweee” in his mouth. These troubling days could have been completely avoided had he been able to sign his discomfort.