When I went back to work in between having my two boys, we put my son in daycare at my office. I delayed my return from maternity leave a couple of months so he was almost 15 months old when he started. He went into the baby room with the 12 – 18 month old babies. At 14 months old he was doing the majority of his bowel movements in the potty and they were surprised and unequipped for a toilet training “baby”. I ran out to the store and purchased a potty for his room at daycare and proceeded to teach his caregivers how he would sign “poop” to indicated his need to go potty.
The first few weeks were an adjustment as he learned to communicate with his caregivers and as they learned to “listen” to his signs, but once everyone adjusted they were amazed that he would indeed ask to go potty which meant they had one less dirty diaper to change at changing time. He became a bit of a phenomenon at daycare and other parents and caregivers were always asking me how we did it. My answer was baby sign language and a consistent routine.
I put him on the potty for the first time when he was 8 months old. Not because I wanted to do some crazy early potty training but because he pooped at pretty much the same time every morning. Our morning routine involved him hanging out in the exersaucer in my bathroom while I got dressed and ready for the day. Every morning I would put him in a new diaper before putting him in the exersaucer because I didn’t want him sitting there in a wet diaper, and every morning he would poop in that nice clean diaper. My Mom and Grandma were in town visiting and I was complaining that he pooped every morning right after I put on a clean diaper and my Grandma suggested I put him on the potty instead of in the exersaucer. This hadn’t even occurred to me, but for my Grandma who raised four kids before disposable diapers became available it made perfect sense. That afternoon, my Grandma went out and bought us our first potty, and sure enough, the next morning my son had his first poop in the potty at 8 months old!
We were happy with just catching his first poop of the day in the potty for awhile, but after we realized he was more comfortable on there we established a routine that allowed us to catch most of his poops and after that, the number of dirty diapers we had to change diminished quickly. At the same time, we were teaching him baby sign language and on the day he turned 14 months old he “told” us he needed to go potty for the first time using his sign language. He wasn’t fully potty trained for several more months, but the decrease in dirty diapers in our house was an awesome accomplishment.
When our second son was born we decided to try the same technique with him and we have been pleasantly surprised to have similar results. This time we were aided by a DVD from our favorite signing series (Signing Time!) that is called Potty Time, so in addition to using sign to tell us when he needs to go potty, our younger son reminds us to wipe, flush and wash with soap as well! We managed to sing and sign our way through potty training.
I offer a workshop based on the Potty Time program where I teach the potty training signs and help prepare people for this important milestone. If you are interested in my classes or in purchasing the Potty Time DVD please visit my website at www.calgaryissigning.com.