Signing MILK – non-verbal cues your baby is hungry

MILK is very probably one of the first signs that you will start using with your baby and possibly from a very young age.  I have a newborn son – well not quite so new anymore, he will be 11 weeks tomorrow! – and as an experienced mum and signer, I have been introducing him to 3 basic signs already – MILK, NAPPY CHANGE and BATH.  I am absolutely not expecting him to sign for a while yet but I can tell by his body language, smiles and attention that he recognises the signs with the words and what that means for him.

Already he becomes calmer because he understands that I have recognised his needs and knows that I will be attending to them.

It can be really hard to recognise your baby’s needs and to know when to start introducing signing to your new baby. We’d normally recommend starting to sign with your baby once they can clap, point and wave as this means that their gross motor skills are sufficiently developed to start signing for themselves BUT babies understand and recognise sign much earlier than this.  Below are a few things to look for to see if you baby is hungry – and a great time to start using the MILK sign before tears set in; crying is a last resort.

If you’re new to mothering and are unsure of how to read your baby’s pre-cry cues for hunger, look for the following signs:

  • making sucking sounds or little sucking motions
  • sucking on her hands
  • snuggling or rooting at the breast – increased alertness or activity
  • making rooting motions
  • clenching his fists by his face
  • brushing a hand across her face
  • putting her fist in her mouth

Used with kind permission of Veronika Robinson, The Mother Magazine and Author of The Drinks Are On Me.

READ our blog post about how to sign milk;  EXPLORING FIRST SIGNS; MILK


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