A lot has changed since my last post about my signing baby 7 months ago – or should I say, my then-still-not-consistently-signing baby. It amazes me to think that his signing vocabulary has grown so much so quickly!
We started signing to my with “Baby Signing Time” videos at 6 months old, but he didn’t start signing back until 3 months later. His first sign: MILK. The first time he did it, I was overjoyed, but because he wasn’t consistent with signing that yet, also a little discouraged (yes, I am indeed an impatient person).
A few weeks later, we saw more consistency as he signed milk, then eventually, MORE, and then CRACKER. Before his first birthday, he was signing more often, adding to his vocabulary new things like DOG and BALL.
At 15 months old, (a mere 6 months since he started signing) I updated his electronic baby book (thank you Outlook calendar) with words he can sign. Only then did I realize he was already signing over 40 words! That includes those not included in the videos, signs I had to find out for myself.
That also meant I had to keep my signing vocabulary growing. I have yet to learn the signs for cherries and blueberries, plate, fork and spoon and so many other things he tries to communicate to me through pointing.
As for his verbal communication skills, he can only say five: mama, papa, ball, baba and dede, which are Tagalog words for “down” and “breast/milk” respectively. Some people I know are worried of speech delay because he’s communicating so well by signing. Me, not so much.
That’s because current research has shown that signing encourages speech development because of baby’s success at communication. And even I see that clearly. He still signs ball as he says it, but with dede, he hardly signs milk anymore. Besides, I find it easier to have him sign over 40 words to me at this age rather than have him speak 8 or 15 while struggling to communicate the other 30.
Having my son sign makes me realize how much he really wants to communicate. One time, I took him out for a ride in his stroller as we went to check our mail. Because it was a scorching hot day, I had no intentions of staying out and baking in the sun, so as soon as we got the mail, I headed back to our house. As we reached our front door, he started to sign:
ME: We have to head back inside, it’s too hot out here. (I push his stroller inside).
MILO: (whimpering) MORE, MORE!!! OUT!
ME: (taking off his shoes) Later honey, it’s too hot. I promise we’ll go out again later.
MILO: (now upset, kicking as I try to take his shoes off) NO! SHOES!!! MORE! OUT!!! OUT!!! SHOES!!! PLEEEEAASE!!!
I was beaming with pride that he is able to communicate what he wanted – only I couldn’t indulge him, so that broke my heart. I did keep my promise and brought him outside again when the sun’s rays started to mellow down that afternoon.
There have been many other instances like this where he clearly communicated with me, whether it’s about something he wants, doesn’t want or simply just letting me know about what he sees or hears. These reinforce my belief that we made the right decision teaching him to sign. I never thought I could truly have conversations with my baby even before he could speak. And because I’m a chatterbox myself, I couldn’t be happier.