Monday, March 26, 2012

Splish, Splash - the awesomeness of David and ISR swim classes

Hartly & David 2012
My Background:  I am the youngest of four and I come from a swimming family.  By the time I was born, all of my older siblings were very good swimmers (My oldest brother, Tony, still has many national records from when he was a kid.  He placed at NCAA and missed Olympic Trials by 1/100th of a second (literally - this was before inhalers were allowed and he has exercise induced asthma... but that is another blog) and had a full swimming scholarship at Auburn, a Division 1 swim university. He currently is the Aquatic Director at The Lab School of Washington, DC.  My sister, Abby, was also an accomplished swimmer and received a swimming scholarship at Southern Illinois University, another Division 1 swim school.  She also met her husband, Tim, there.  He was the swim team captain her Freshmen year. Tim is currently a swim coach at Curl Burke, one of the leading swim clubs in the nation. And my other brother, Micheal, was also a great swimmer, although he chose to do other things once he got in High School.) It was only natural that I would be around water a lot from a young age.  

Having fun with Hart in ocean
Papi having fun in pool Hart
My mom recalls that when I was little she just played, played, played with me in the water.  She never put floaties on any of us (in fact, oftentimes, floaties can do more damage than good because it gives children a false sense of security and doesn't teach them at all what their body feels like naturally in water).  She said she just threw us around and delighted in our giggles and that we enjoyed the water.  I was put into swimming lessons when I was 4.  I don't ever remember not being able to swim.

The Barnetts 1978 (L-R Mike, Abby, Baby Carrie, Mom Jinky, Tony, Cat Stella, Dog Shirley, Dad Robert)
Frank and I live on the water.  Our backyard was a creek that later was man-made into a Lake.  We decided early on that Water Survival was very important to teach all of our children at a very young age.  There are so many drowning deaths a year of which many can be avoided with some skills given to babies early on.  These are accidents.  While we never intend on Hartly being near the water when we aren't around, this is why it is called an accident.  In addition, the lake is pitch black. We could be standing right next to him and see him fall in, dive in right after him and have trouble finding him and getting him to the surface in time.  Scary.  We decided to do some research on how to give Hartly the tools to help increase his chances of survival if an accident ever did/does occur.  By, "we did research", I mean FRANK!  This was important to both of us and both of us, luckily, have been able to attend almost every lesson.  ISR, Infant Survival Resource (click on ISR to get redirected to their website), made sense to us.  We contacted via email one of the local instructors, David Worrell (click on David's name to go to his page), and we liked him right away.  We signed Hart up and January 24th, 2011, at 7 months of age, he had his 1st lesson! 

I can't speak as an expert for ISR, but I can speak as an expert for our experience with Hartly and with our experience with David.  I truly believe in the ISR method but I think that the instructor is equally as important.
A little bit about our experience with ISR:
If you do not read about ISR or see any DVD or hear any explanations about the method it can be scary and seem quite horrible.  Almost all the little babies cry during their lessons. Many of them cry the whole entire time.  This is not a Mommy and me class.  It is not about being held and bounced around and being sung to in the water.  This is a 1:1 ten minute lesson everyday, 5 days a week, to teach your child what to do in case of an emergency.  This is a class that could save your child's life if, God forbid, there is ever an accident.  In a matter of months (depends on child and illnesses, teething etc), a small baby can and does learn how to roll over onto their back (in the majority of accidents where children fall into the water, they land face down) and they learn how to float for a number of minutes crying out (giving them time for an adult to come to their aid).  In fact the crying in class can actually be good and helpful.  The crying helps David know when they take a breath in to help in the teaching of them rolling/flipping onto their backs.  The crying is also helpful because in case of a real emergency, you are going to want your child to scream or cry out so you are alerted to them and their situation.

Another word about crying.  As a new mother or parent you learn within the first few weeks or months a lot about crying.  There are many different cries.  The cry that most babies do during ISR class is a complaining type cry.  Babies can't yet talk so crying is their way of communicating.  In class they are communicating that they really would rather not work their little bodies so hard.  It is a lot of hard physical and mental work to learn how to roll over in the water and to learn how to balance and float.  This is not easy.  But they are very capable.  And almost all of the children stop crying once David picks them up and gives them breaks snuggling in his arms... But that is about David...

David and Baby Hartly ~ 7 months old

A little bit about our experience with David:

reaching for David for class
David is truly gifted with children.  David grew up in a swimming family in St. Lucia where is family is quite well known for opening famous swim facilities and for coaching many top swimmers. He had a lot of swimming knowledge and experience before he even took ISR courses.  David has a very calm and temperament.  He is incredibly humble and while he is an expert at what he does, he will tell you he doesn't have a lot of background in child care.  This is hard to believe when you see him with the babies and children he works with.  As mentioned before, almost all the little ones cry during class.  Yet almost all of them smile when they first see David.  They often even reach for him when getting in the pool.    When he gives them break times they lean into him and when it is over they stop crying, usually, immediately.

David gives children a gift that many kids do not receive until they are much older, if ever.  He gives them the gift of believing in them.  David trusts them.  He knows they can do it.  Babies are very needy and very dependent on adults.  We do everything for them.  Mothers and Fathers stand watch and are often so nervous and fearful for their baby (quite normal).  Some parents get to the point where David has to ask them to leave (because the parent getting upset causes more stress on the baby).  I myself decided a couple times to excuse myself because I didn't want Hart to see me getting emotional (and David will tell you, Hart rarely cried and never too hard or for too long). But it is hard to watch your child upset.  And we, as parents aren't even confident in what our wee little ones can do.  David is, often I would guess, the first person that lets a child know that they are separate from us grown-ups and that they have skills to take care of themselves.  This is a gift that far exceeds the physical life-saving lesson of rolling or floating (because, hopefully, none of these kids will ever need to actually use what they are taught as far as in an emergency situation).
Happy Baby
This belief in the baby is something that will get hard-wired into a little ones growing brain and will stay with them indefinitely.  The first few years of life are so key in everything else thereafter.  To have an experience as a baby that something is really, really hard but that with a lot of work and someone by your side that believes in you and gives you appropriate tools to succeed, no matter how long it takes you, but you can do it, is awesome.  This lesson is one that can be conjured up, subconsciously or otherwise, the rest of this child's life.  The confidence that, even when things are extremely physically challenging and even when things seem terrible or hopeless, they can do it! How amazing is that!?  What a truly wonderful lesson to learn when you are so little.

How it works schedule-wise:
A baby can begin learning the rolling and floating sequence as young as 6 months.
learning how to float
This takes anywhere from 3-5 months before they usually are ready to "graduate".  This is a slow gradual process.  These are tiny little babies and there are often milestone interruptions (teething, crawling, standing, illnesses...) that may slow the process down.  In addition, it is NOT a 'just throw the baby in the water' class.  Many of the same exact things are repeated day in and day out, over and over again.  A lot of muscle memory and confidence is being built along with each new skill.  David makes sure that he does not introduce anything new on Mondays or Fridays.  He wants the child to start and end each week getting out of the pool feeling good and confident in the lesson that just occurred.  Graduation is pretty amazing and mind blowing.  The baby is in full clothes and, at this point, while the baby isn't thrown into the water, the instructor does try to reenact as realistically as possible, what could/would happen in case of an emergency.  The baby falls in from off the ledge and sinks halfway down into the water before they come to the surface, flip over and float.  David will somersault them in the air to disorient them (which, again, would happen in real emergency) and the child is able to get to the surface, roll over and float.  He moves the water around while they are floating so that they constantly have to readjust for the motion.  And the baby answers to each request and it is amazing to watch.  It makes your heart swell and your eyes fill up with tears because you see this gift you have given this child in case anything ever happens.  It is awesome.

Then, every few months for just a couple of weeks, there is a refresher of the rolling/floating sequence.
We had a refresher lesson in our lake last summer

Little babies grow a lot and fast and it is important to get back in the water every few months for them to adjust to the weight and body changes because they need to figure out how to adjust for balance.  Around 1 1/2 is when they can move onto phase 2: swim-flip onto back-float, float, float-flip onto front-swim-grab the wall/ladder/steps sequence.  This  is where the child learns to "swim" (it is more of a wiggle that propels them forward, form is not what is being worked on here) and then they learn after a few seconds to roll onto their back and float to catch their breath before flipping back over and continuing their swim/wiggle to the wall/steps/ladder/edge.  When they reach their destination they have to reach up and grab on and hold on until help arrives...  I don't know what comes after this or what "graduation" of this phase entails because we are currently in the middle of it...
Hartly's experience:
Hartly started ISR classes with David when he was 7 months old and he took about 4-5 months to graduate from phase one.  I believe he was around  11 or 12 months when he graduated (I don't recall exactly).  Hart was teething a lot during this time and when a baby is teething badly, swimming is halted (because ISR instructors are taught that teething takes a lot out of a child physically and that they need a lot of rest during this time and swim classes are counterproductive).  Also, Hartly was a rare case in that, initially, he didn't cry at all.  I think that this may have thrown David for a loop.  It was hard to know when to roll him and it is also important for a child to cry some because while they can float a long time, they can't float indefinitely.  The crying alerts people to a problem. Hartly never has never been a big cryer.  He cries.  He just doesn't cry a lot or often.

From Hart's 1st class at 7 months old until currently (he is 21 months), he has adored David.

Hart saw David everyday during the week from 7 months until almost a year, when he "graduated".  Then Hart had 2 refresher sessions, spaced a few months apart, that lasted just a few weeks.  Hart then went for almost 5 months without seeing David or being in the water at all.

In January we went to Puerto Rico to avoid the cold.  Hartly was hesitant at first with the water.  He was happy to wade in the baby pool but didn't want much to do with the big pool or ocean.  He was a little timid and I did not push or encourage him but let him watch and observe.  And I waited.  It was so hard but I just talked about what people were doing and discussed that it looked like fun.  I asked him if he wanted to try and when he said no I dropped it and didn't push him.  I had fun in the water and we watched other kids and people splashing around.  A few days in and Hartly decided he wanted to play in the water too.  I was so glad I hadn't tried to talk him into it because he came around in his own time.  I think if I had pushed it (which I was tempted because I love playing in the water), it would have only made him push back and he would not have had same internal pleasure and joy.

pure joy
By the end of our trip Hartly was madly in love with anything water.  He loved sitting in the sand and having the waves come up to him and pull him into the ocean - a little freaky to watch but also hysterical because he was so happy getting sucked into the waves.  He would roll around and be submerged under the water and       he would come up, hair full of sand and he would say "more! more!" laughing hysterically.  
enjoying the ocean
He wanted to go in the big pool and he would ask to be thrown or ask to go under.  He was also very good about never going near the water unless Frank or I was right with him  He was cautious but also adventurous.  And David's name came up a few times.  "Who taught you how to swim?", "David"... although I was not too confident he truly remembered who David was.  One day I did find an old photo from the summer with Hart and David and I asked Hartly who it was.  Without hesitating he said, with a huge grin, "David!".  We had a great time and played a lot in the water.  It was a wonderful trip!!  

NOTE: A few days into our trip in Puerto Rico, Hart fell face first while walking around in the baby pool.  I was an arms length away.  Before I could even react, his little arm shot up into the air and his whole big toddler self rolled over onto his back.  It was the coolest thing and an amazing example of muscle memory and how ingrained David's and the ISR Method truly is.  A few more times throughout our 5 weeks there, Hart tripped or went in the water over his head.  Each time I was there but each time he also, automatically, shot his little arm up behind him and flipped his body over onto his back.  I never tested if he was able to float.  I always picked him up right away because I didn't want to scare him or discourage him if he had not been able to float.  At any rate, while a couple of times this frightened him and he cried a little, a few other times he went right back to playing without missing a beat.  What was crazy fascinating to me was that here is a 19 month old who has not been in the water or had a lesson in over 5 months!! (one fourth his life) and his body reacted and remembered what he had been taught months before.  It was just so satisfying and cool to witness.

As soon as we returned from Puerto Rico we started right back in with the swimming.  As I mentioned, it had been months and I was a little nervous because Hart could now walk and talk and I did not know how he was going to react to being forced to work hard in the water everyday.  I braced myself the first day back...

Hart and David
Getting a high-five from David
There was no need to.  Although I can't imagine how, it seemed as though Hartly remembered David and when the first lesson was over, Hart was asking for more.  This is how it has been for the last 2 months.  Hartly wakes up in the morning and often the first word out of his mouth is, "David?".  Hart will randomly lie down on the ground with his arms out and legs straight and say, "floating. David.".  He will be sitting and start kicking his legs and say, "Swimming.  David."  Frank recently bought Hartly a chin up bar that we installed low and Hartly loves to hang on it(one of our best purchases ever!  Hartly is obsessed with hanging.  Nothing makes him happier than this hanging bar.).  He will say, "Reach up" when he grabs for it (because David says to him, reach up, for when Hart gets to the wall and has to hold on).  He thinks about David and about the lessons in the water he is learning. 

Most recently Hart wanted to make a painting for David.  He wanted it blue, like "blue pool" he swims in with David.  After his painting had dried and glitter and fish stickers had been added, I suggested we write something to David.  Hartly said, "Yes".  I wish I had recorded the following, but I remember it pretty well:

Me: "What do you want to say to David?"
Hartly:  "David."
Me: "We should put his name on the picture?"
Hartly:  "Yes."
Me:  "Ok. What else?  Do you want to thank him for teaching you how to swim?"
Hartly:  "Yes."
Me:  "Ok. Well, tell me what words I should write."
Hartly:  "Thank you."
Me:  "Ok.  Anything else?"
Hartly:  (thinking) Pause. Pause. Pause. "Love you!!!"
Me:  "You want me to write Love you to David?"
Hartly:  "Yes."
Me:  "Anything else?"
Hartly:  "Read it."
Me:  "You want me to read to you what I wrote?"
Hartly:  "Yes."
Me:  "David - Thank you. Love you.  Are you done or do you want to add more?
Hartly:  "More Thank you."
Me:  "You want me to write thank you again?"
Hartly:  "Yes."
Me:  "Ok.  Anything else?"
Hartly:  "Swimming."
Me:  "You want me to write swimming on it?"
Hartly:  "Yes.(pause)  Hartly."
Me:  "I should put your name on it so he knows who it is from?"
Hartly:  "Yes. (pause)  Read it."
Me:  "David - Thank you.  Love you. Thank you. Swimming. Hartly."
Hartly:  "All done."                                             
Hartly said it better than I ever could!      

Hart with painting, David coaching background





Tuesday, March 6, 2012

20 months - Hartly Jose having fun and saying his whole name

Hartly Jose is obsessed with hanging and spinning and climbing and talking.  He talks a LOT!  Frank and I are continuously amazed and entertained by him.  He is a ton of fun to be around!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Elimination Communication update (20 months old)

Hartly a couple weeks old
Background:  When Hartly was just a few weeks old, Frank said to me that he wanted to put Hart on the potty. I laughed and rolled my eyes.  Frank brought this subject up many times.  He argued that in other countries they do not use disposable diapers and that children are in underwear much earlier...  I was a new mom and had a lot going on.  I told Frank that I would as long as - 1.) Frank did all the research, 2.) He had to tell me exactly what to do AND, most importantly, 3.) As long as it didn't stress out the baby and it doesn't stress out me. For more details, refer to my February 9th, 2011 post. For Update, keep reading...

Hartly, 20 months, planting seeds
Naked in the Ocean!
Update:  Hartly is now 20 months old.  He is walking and running and climbing.  He talks a ton, is learning to dress and undress himself.  He loves airplanes, swimming and hanging.  He helps around the house and is learning to feed himself independently.  And Hartly pees and poos in a potty.  

Is he completely Diaper-Free?  No.  

Does he understand when he needs to go to the bathroom? Absolutely.  

Does he always make it on time?  Does he always tell me when he has to go?  No.  

Does he often not want to stop playing to use the bathroom? Does traveling make it harder?  Is it sometimes confusing (I can pee in the shower and in the ocean but not in the pool or on the floor?)? Yes.

Hartly hanging
Hartly in undies in our tent with ballpit balls
For the past couple of weeks Hart has been interested in wearing underwear exclusively.  He wants to wear it all the time.  If he wants to wear underwear and we are at home, I let him wear underwear. I have explained that he can't pee when the underwear is on or else it will mess all over him.  He nods and looks at me and says, "hooollldddd it".  Yes, I say.  When you wear underwear, you have to hold your pee until you can get to a potty.  "Ohhh Kay" he says.  And, for the most part, he does.  

Whenever I have to use the bathroom I tell him he needs to try too, so I am reminding him.  And he, occasionally, tells me, "potty" too when he has to go.  But more often than not he tells me he has to go by saying, "Hhhooollllddd it!" and that means he has to go but is holding it. I then ask if he needs the potty and he says, " Yes" and proceeds to tell me if he wants the big potty or little potty.

But, as I mentioned, he is not completely Diaper-Free.  And he has had "accidents".  

I have been feeling slightly guilty because, when we are out and about, I put him in a diaper.  He will sometimes tell me when we are out, "pee pee" and if it is not convenient or easy to find or we are in the car or I am in a rush... I say, "It's okay.  Just go in your diaper." UGH! Bad Mommy!  

And there have been 3 times over the past 5 days that he has been playing all day, dry, in his underwear when, toward evening, he stood right next to me and said, "peeing" and he was right. He was standing there looking down and peeing...

We brought our own potty to PR
And it can be frustrating that he is not completely Diaper-Free because I know he understands... but.... I have to remind myself about the goal of EC.  

The goal is: 

1.) for the baby to have body awareness from an early age - Hart has been pooing on a potty since he was 4 months old!  We have changed VERY few poopy diapers since birth.  Only if he is teething, sick or if he goes during nap or sleeptime has he had BMs in his diaper and not on the potty.  Hart, for many, many months has told us, when he is in a diaper, "peeing".  Even when we travel he uses the potty! 
In Spain Hart used adult toilets

He has signed for the potty since he was under a year.  He definitely has body awareness!  

2.) for the baby to be healthy and clean - Hartly has never had a diaper rash.  Never. 

3.) To use less diapers and be better to our environment - We do GDiapers AND disposable.  And, on average, Hartly only uses 2-3 diapers per day (including nap and bedtime). So, we have, at least a little, lessened our carbon print on the world. AND he is still just a baby!

Painting in his Baby Gs
A few people have asked me what my reaction is when he has "misses" or "accidents".  My reaction is very matter-of-fact.  I do not get upset at him!  I simply comment on what has occurred.  If he is underwear and has made a little mess I say, "You went pee-pee on yourself.  Oh no.  Now we have to clean up.  Next time tell Mama if you need the bathroom or go get a potty." Then he has to take his wet underwear off and we put it in the sink and we wash it together.  He also gets wiped down and then he takes towels and goes and cleans where he left a puddle.  It is not a punishment. I always help him. It is just a consequence.  When Hart has an accident at the table and spills his water, he cleans it up.  He doesn't get in trouble or yelled at but he knows that if he makes a mess, he has to clean it up.  When he dumps out his toys, he cleans them up when he is done playing with them.  He is used to cleaning up after himself and he often sings to himself, "Clean up. Clean up." while he does it.  If Hart goes in his diaper, I just mention it when taking it off for him to use bathroom, "Oh look.  Hartly went pee pee in his diaper.  Next time, try and hold it and tell Mommy if you need the potty".

Hartly helping keep hotel room tidy

For anyone who thinks all of this is pushing a child or asking too much, I might have thought the same thing in the past. But Hartly, actually, really likes being independent.  Even when he was very little, he enjoyed sitting on the little potty (and it really helped strengthen his core and helped him with his balance).  He feels pride when he uses the bathroom and he enjoys the one-to-one time he gets with me or with his dad when he is sitting on the potty.  He enjoys learning how to do things.  Kids are capable of so much!  It's nice to give them opportunities to display their knowledge and enjoy doing things.  Ask anyone who knows him.  Hartly is a VERY happy baby!

Happy Boy in PR

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sign Language Update - Hartly at 19 months old

A good friend of my sister's is a Sign Language Teacher at a public High School in Maryland.  She is always looking for ways to motivate her students so she recruited us to help her out.  She sent me a bunch of questions that I answered on paper and she also asked us to video tape the answers and Hartly.

Below is the videos we made in response to her request (and the email is also included because it has more detail than the videos... Keep in mind we only did one take and Hart was due a nap).

1.) How did you hear about using sign language with your baby?

--- it is pretty popular these days to do 5-10 signs with babies so I just kinda knew about it. In addition, my sister is fluent in sign language so she did a little with her oldest when he was small. My sister is where I first became aware of Signing as an option.

2.) What made you want to teach sign language to your baby?

--- My husband and I believe very strongly that babies, even newborns, are much more aware of what is going on around them than adults acknowledge. Any chance for communication and connection with our son was very appealing to us.

3.) Did you know any sign language before you started signing with him?

--- No. Not really. Maybe 5 or 6 signs?...

4.) What resources have you used to help you sign with him?

--- We actually hired a lady to come and give a class at our house with a few friends. She actually was not that great but a few things she said stuck out ---> there is a delayed reaction so keep doing sign. Don't give up. She also said to work off of his interests.  We bought a few baby sign books but, honestly, once Hart started signing and showing interest (he would point to a picture in a book and then turn and look at me... Waiting for me to tell him sign. If I didn't he would point/jab excitedly repeatedly at picture and turn back to me) the easiest was to just look up on my phone online.

5.) How old was he when you started signing to him?

--- we probably started fairly consistently using 4-5 signs (a sign we made up for potty, more, eat, bottle, all done...) when he was around 4 or 5 months old.

6.) What and when was his first sign?

--- just shy of 9 months he signed fan.

7.) What kinds of words do you choose to sign with him?

--- As previously stated, mainly we have followed his lead (with exception of manners; please, thank you, wait, sorry...)

8.) Do you think signing has made a difference in him (linguistically) already or will it in the future?

--- Hart is 19 months and, I'm told, the average 19 month old speaks 10-50 words a stranger could recognize. Hart has, at least, 75 spoken words a stranger could understand.  I probably understand well over 100 of his spoken words. ( when I don't understand him I ask him if there is a sign for it and he will sign, clearing up confusion if it's a sign he knows). In addition, my husband speaks Spanish to him. We were told bilingual households usually mean a child speaking later. Not true at all in our case.

9.) Does anyone else in your family sign with him?

--- Not really besides my husband and myself. My mom understands a few. My sister, who is fluent, I had thought would a lot but, interestingly enough she doesn't. I think it is bc he has a lot of baby signs and he has made up quite a few of his own (before he could sign his name he made up his own sign for it, he made up a sign for bat and swing and a few others as well) so she doesn't know them. We don't care about them being correct. We just wanted/want to communicate with him.

10.) Will you use sign with your other children?

--- Absolutely. If anything, even more and earlier. No pressure but understanding that he understood well before he could demonstrate.

11.) When do you think you will stop signing with your baby?

--- At 16 months, when he started verbalizing a lot, signing slowed down a lot. At one point he was learning 2-3 signs a day. Now maybe we add 1 a week. Especially if there is a word he has trouble saying or we have trouble understanding (most recently iguana). I would imagine we will still be using sign language for a while. Often if he's drinking his bottle or playing he will sign rather than speak. And as soon as we have another child we will be using all the time so it will probably be for years to come.

12.) What is your favorite thing about using sign language with your baby?

--- But the very best thing that has come out of all of this occured when... (this is from an excerpt in my blog... when story occurred, Hartly was 11 months old)

Little Man was going through a rough patch with his teething. He was just not his usually self and his hand was in his mouth pressing up on his gums one morning with silent tears rolling down his face. Our boy rarely cries so this was a rare and such a sad sight to see. I tried giving him teething toys and every trick I knew. I even put baby homeremedy medicine on his gum but he was not feeling any better. I finally, in desperation more than actually expecting and answer, said, "Hart, what do you need? What will make you feel better?" Without missing a beat, he signed, "bath!"

It was not our usually bath time but who am I to argue with a sad baby in pain asking for a bath. I didn't know if it would help but I decided to try. As I started filling the tub he become more frantic, madly signing "bath" over and over as his quiet tears now became sobs.

I hurried up and we climbed in. His sobs started to subside. He snuggled close to me and sunk low in the warm water. Minutes later he was smiling again.

It was amazing!

As I was sitting in the tub with my sweet teething baby a conversation with his pediatrician (Dr. Razi - she is the BEST!) came rushing back to me!! At around 6 months when Hart got his first (and so far only) fever and was crying nonstop, I (new mother here) called his Doctor in a panic, wondering if I needed to bring him to see her. She told me a bunch of different things to do for him. She said, if those didn't work, to climb into the tub with him. She said that it helps with aches and pains and can soothe a miserable baby. I only now, as we sat in the bath, was reminded of this conversation. How Hartly knew that this is what he needed to help make him feel better, I will never know.

What I do know is this: Without sign language I don't know how long he would have been in pain and sad and crying. He was able to communicate his needs to me - a need that had not even crossed my mind as helping his teething. This alone makes me grateful we sign. But, as I stated before, on a daily bases I communicate and talk with my son and we all three (husband is definitely on board too) have so much fun and joy talking together!!