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This Mom Used Baby Sign Language To Communicate With Her Son Before He Started Talking
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Audrey Shane Ramos
  • Babies’ only way of telling you what they need is to cry. It takes some time to decipher why your baby is crying, but you’ll get the hang of it. However, as your little one grows, his needs become more complex.

    Another way your baby can communicate these with you is through sign language. It’s what Audrey Shane Ramos, a mom from our Smart Parenting Village Facebook group, did.

    “I wanted to do it so I can understand my son somehow,” Audrey told Smartparenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger. She started teaching her son Grey baby sign language when he was only ten months old.

    The first-time mom learned about baby sign language when she searched for “how to communicate with your child before he or she talks." “Kasi 'di ba ang hirap intindihan ng toddler kung ano gusto nila. Minsan sa frustration nila, idadaan na lang sa iyak,” Audrey explained.

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    One major benefit of baby sign language is that it decreases a child’s frustration when she’s unable to tell mom or dad what she wants, according to Sharon Agoncillo-Galang, certified instructor of the Baby Signs Program and the managing director of Baby Signs Philippines. Other benefits include strengthening the parent and child bond and fostering emotional development.

    “To be honest, at first, I didn’t know if it was going to work or if I was teaching him right,” Audrey admitted. She did her research on how to teach her son sign language using YouTube videos (Click here and here for the onesshe used).


    Consistency is key in teaching sign language

    First, she learned the sign gestures herself. “I don’t let my son watch the videos,” Audrey clarified. She also taught her husband how to sign, so they can use it daily and consistently when communicating with Grey.

    Every time Audrey or her husband would say the words, they’d also make the equivalent gesture. “The key is consistency,” Audrey stressed, adding that she still went on to use sign with her son even when she received no reaction or indication that Grey was learning.

    “Nagulat na lang ako, after he turned 1, he starting using the ‘milk’ sign when he wanted to breastfeed!” she shared. “Nagbunga ang pagtuturo ko,” she exclaimed. It was an achievement not just for Grey but for Audrey as well, since it was her first teaching experience, and it worked.

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    Grey first learned how to sign for “milk,” “thank you,” and “more.” When Audrey says the word, her son would respond using the sign. When Grey had been using the gestures consistently, Audrey worked on teaching him new words and gestures.

    via GIPHY This gesture means he wants "more" food.

    via GIPHY This one means he's "all done" eating.

    Fast forward to today, the little one now knows the sign language for “eat,” “please,” “water,” “all done” or “finish,” “sleep,” “shh” or “quiet”, “sorry,” and “toilet” (for pooping). Most of the time, Grey would go to Audrey and sign for what he needs, say, milk, or water.

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    via GIPHY He knows how to say, "Please," in sign language.

    via GIPHY He also knows how to say, "Thank you!"

    “He just recently learned the signs for ‘open,’ ‘cookie,’ ‘mommy,’ ‘daddy,’ and ‘bath,’" Audrey shared. Now, even his grandparents and their helpers understand a few baby signs because he always uses them.

    Audrey is currently teaching Grey how to sign “I love you,” which she does daily but “nahihirapan siya sa fingers,” she explained.

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    Does baby sign language delay speaking?

    When Audrey shared a clip of Grey signing for “please,” “more,” and “thank you,” other parents were amazed and also curious if her son is already talking. Audrey is not too worried. Based on her research, there are toddlers and preschoolers, even those who are speaking already, who still use sign language.

    “My son doesn’t really speak yet, pero he knows how to say some words na and is using a lot of made-up words,” she said. “What we do din at home is point at an object and tell him what it is. Pero with the signs it’s the word and the sign," Audrey added.

    Teaching babies how to sign does not delay your child’s speech development. It actually jumpstarts it.

    According to Agoncillo-Galang, baby sign language can boost a child's verbal language development. Remember, when you’re saying the words while signing, there is constant verbalization. Signing is the same as showing pictures or pointing to an object when saying the word.

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