One of the moms in my Baby Sign class shared with me that her little one had been signing ‘milk’ for days before they realized that she was signing ‘milk’. Her baby just turned one year old, and signs the words ‘nice’, ‘more’, ‘eat’, ‘bubbles’, ‘water’, ‘mommy’ and is rapidly acquiring many more words. During her meal time, she would reach her arms out as if to ask to be taken out of her highchair. When her mommy realized that she was not happy with being taken out of the highchair, she suddenly realized that her child was actually trying to let her know that she wanted ‘milk’.
When a baby is consistently using the same gestures in the same context or situation, chances are, they are using an approximation for a sign and are trying their best to communicate. It may not look exactly like the sign you have learned, but it is in fact your child trying his/her best to communicate! Watch for eye contact and facial expression, and we will all be better at effective communication.