The signing lull

The polar opposite to the signing explosion, and something that happens to most babies, are signing lulls. This is when your baby seems disinterested in signing or stops using signs they used to use. This is to be expected and happens often enough not to cause concern. When babies are focused on a physical developmental milestone such as crawling or walking, their focus can be almost exclusively on these tasks until they are mastered. When this happens, signing will take a backseat. However, you should still model the signs to them during these slow periods, but it’s also a good idea to avoid introducing new signs. It won’t take your baby long to move onto the next thing.

If your baby is just starting to crawl or walk when you first introduce signing to them, note that it might take longer for your baby to sign back, or he might seem to lack focus. While you don’t have to avoid introducing signing during these times, if you think you’ll become discouraged and give up, then by all means wait until your baby regains their focus. Just after a baby starts walking, or just after learning to sit up on his own are two of the more ideal times to introduce signing as baby’s focus will be shifted from one milestone to another.

Above: Pickles! In this video, my son is a little bit older, so he’s starting to transition from pure signing to signing/word combos. Now instead of just doing EAT and GREEN, he will sign and say the words. As he builds confidence with speaking, he’ll drop the signs altogether in a natural process. Then he throws us all for a loop and actually says pickles properly for the first time. If you missed it, he had been saying “lalala” for pickles!

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