Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Potty On! Elimination Communication at 8 Months

In the first months of BabyG’s life we knew whenever she had to pee because she screamed so hard you’d think somebody was stepping on her bladder every time she had to go. I’m no Einstein, but it was pretty clear when to put her on the potty.

By the time she was four months old, however, she was so much less embittered by her elimination needs that she stopped protesting them. It was time for me to become a super observant mother who watched and/or carried the baby all day long. A mother who could anticipate pees by noting subtle signals. She rolled on her stomach…to pee? She kicked her legs frantically…a pee sign?

Sometimes. But not all the time. Truth be told, I never figured out her particular pre-pee activities. Some mothers feel like they need to pee when their baby does…I feel like I need to pee when I need to pee. My bladder isn't psychic. So I changed lots of wet diapers because we never did go full-time nakey-baby. Even when BabyG did hang out nude, she provided me with a number of puddles that I wiped with diapers.

But I didn’t loose complete faith in EC because of the following, very important mathematical equation:

In layman’s terms: two poos in a potty are more than vastly superior to fifteen wet diapers, cubed. Especially over an eight month period. And we have caught two poos in a potty most every day of BabyG’s life because she poos on schedule: when she wakes up, and then again sometime between four and seven. The afternoon poo can be tricky, but she gets whiney, still, before a poo.

When I went to Utah I missed a couple poos; and here and there we’ve had an accident. But since she was born, there haven’t been twenty messy diapers. And I never missed ALL the pees. I caught the waking up pees, some breastfeeding pees, and usually, a few other otherwise unscheduled ones every day. Though imperfect, I was content with our ECing record because of the Arnold Mankad Corollary.

Or, two poos in a potty and fifteen wet diapers per day over a period of eight months, or even 8 million months, are so much greater than and more superior to one stinky diaper smeared all over my baby's butt that it isn't even funny.

When BabyG turned six months, GreenDaddy and I began throwing the American Sign Language potty sign...making a fist with the thumb between the second and third finger and shaking it back and forth, ie, an ASL letter "p"...at BabyG as she went poo on the toilet or right after she finished.

I figured by the time she was a year old, it might mean something. I figured it’d help her let us know when she had to poo, but that it wouldn’t work for pees.

But then yesterday GreenDaddy and I noticed BabyG trying to mimic the signs. Sort of. Or was she just playing with her hands? I started checking her diaper immediately when she made the signs. Usually it was dry. I didn’t do anything and checked a minute later…it’d be newly wet.

Still, I didn’t believe. Not until this morning when she skipped her morning poo, which GreenDaddy is in charge of. He brought her back to me so he could go take a shower. I started breastfeeding her, and she stopped, looked at me, and wiggled one hand in a sort of fist, and the other she waved back and forth. I ran her to the potty and she pooed the instant she sat down. Usually you have to wait around a few minutes.

Still, I didn’t believe. I didn’t even watch for more signs most of the rest of the day. Later, I was playing with BabyG when she started making potty signals. I ran her to the potty, and again, she immediately pooed. It was early for her poo – I usually wouldn’t have taken her to the potty at that time. I was so excited I took fifty pictures. But alas, my editors won't let me post them all...but note the potty signal she is making with her hand in the third picture -- the i-just-pooed picture.

I was giddy. I took her back, to continue helping her go down for a nap, and a few minutes later she signed again. I checked her diaper and it was dry. I decided I had imagined her making signs at all because how would she have to go again, so soon? Still, about a minute later I checked the diaper and it was sopping wet. When she signed again, half an hour later, I took her to the potty and she peed again. I know enough through ECing to understand she might not yet sign for every need, but it's incredible to realize the skill is developing.

Which basically, is to say, that while I might not be a genius, my eight-month-old baby girl most definately is.


Fiddler said...

My daughter has been doing ASL with my grandson since about 8 months of age, dabbling at first with it and then being much more serious when he started picking it up so quickly... He is talking all the time now (not always intelligibly) but supplements with ASL... It's a great way to communicate... Good job, keep it up!

GreenDaddy said...

I love this post, although I guess I'm partial. I wanted to add that Lila and I are going to be in a DVD that the guru of elimination communication, Laurie Boucke, is making. Miah was the camerawoman. But I'm not sure when it's going to come out.

One other thing. Does anyone reading this have a psychic bladder? That is, a bladder that signals the need to pee when your baby (or some other person) needs to pee?

Anonymous said...

Taco has developed a Pavlovian response to the unballing of a plastic shopping bag, the kind we use to pick up her poo. When we go out to pee, she immediately goes, but then sometimes waits around as if she doesn't know why we're there. That's when I get out the bag. The mere sound of the plastic bag makes her almost immediately hunch up and poo.

GreenDaddy said...

For those of you who are not familiar with Taco, she is a dog not a human baby : )

Izzy said...

Yay Lila!!!!!

And you captured it on camera, too!

That picture of her giving the sign is awesome :)

Jessi Louise said...

Wow, that's amazing! I have this book on early potty training, which you start as soon as your baby can sit up on his/her own and it involves watching for signals much like elimination communication. I got it when the boys were older though and never tried it at such a young age. It looks like all your patience and hard work is paying off!

quixoticmama said...



BTW - Lila is probably the CUTEST baby ever.

Serenity said...

Hooray for Lila! I've been hoping that my little girl (Allegra, now 14 months, dabbling in EC since 6 weeks) would start signing for potty... but alas, we are still waiting for clear signals.

That said, I have had a shadow of the "psychic bladder" experience and have certainly experienced the sudden, "She has to pee" thought. But our success with EC has been hugely cyclical. Last week was fantastic. This week... eh.

As an aside, more than "psychic bladder" I have experienced "psychic illness" with my children. Without being sick myself, I can often feel where they are ailing, as in ear infections or stomach aches. At first I tended to think I was coming down with it too, but it never panned out. Reading about the "psychic bladder" really validated this other phenomenon for me. And I have found it helps with homeopathic prescribing on my little ones. Do you green folks use homeopathy?
Thanks for your great blog. I've enjoyed it.

GreenDaddy said...

Lila actually hasn't done the potty sign for a couple of days (at least not in front of me). But I think she'll start again. She's actually reverted to getting real grumpy right before peeing and pooing. So we're still catching stuff. Thanks everybody for the great comments.

Sara said...

I've EC'd two babies. My youngest is now 17 mos, and I no longer have to pay much attention. She uses the potty and then brings it to me to empty (when she doesn't go on the floor.) She has been diaperless from birth.

You understand the desire to show off the wonder baby.

Here's a pic of her signing on the potty at about six months old. http://clanmcgrath.blogspot.com/2005/08/ilanas-first-sign.html

And another of her pottying her doll at ten months old. http://clanmcgrath.blogspot.com/2006/01/coconut-needed-to-potty.html

cake said...

1)those pictures are ADORABLE, and i could handle a lot more of them (note to editors).

2) this is amazing and encouraging. i sign to cosmo while he is going on his potty, and he really looks at the sign (more than for the other signs i try to show him). i use it for poos and pees. i hope that someday he will sign to let me know before hand. reading this, i have renewed hope that he will.

3)i don't really try to catch his pees. he signals AS he is doing it, not BEFORE. however, when i need to pee, usually out of convenience, i bring him to the bathroom, and put him on his potty (we keep ours in the bathroom). he almost always pees then. so, i don't really believe that we are in sync, or that i need to pee when he does, but, i do think that he has an association now with the potty, and when he sits on it, if he has not JUST peed, he will go then.

4)thanks for sharing this. it is beautiful, sweet and inspiring.

Diana said...

Yay, Lila! That is wonderful! It's nice to see progress, isn't it?!?!

May I ask where you bought your potty and what brand/kind it is?

The one we currently have seems to be a little tough on our daughter's bottom. (the edges are kind of sharp, rather than rounded). This one looks just like what I have been looking for. Are you happy with it?

GreenDaddy said...

Thanks Sarah, Cake, and Diana for the great comments. Lila's potty is made by Baby Bjorn. They're available at the EC Store (http://www.theecstore.com/) for $10. Lila loves it. She actually enjoys sitting on it and we have to be mindful of not letting her sit there for too long.

Diana said...

Thank you for the link Raj, I'm placing the order now! :)

Dale Collie said...

Ma Green

Great blog entry you have on potty training.
A lot of moms are interested in what you have to say.

You're invited to post the blog entry on this new potty training
articles web site. You can post this in the Blog Section.

You can post info in any of the categories, and some of
the longer articles are even being picked up by various on line
and print publishers.

Take a look ...

Best wishes ... and keep blogging that good advice!


Sonia said...

This was such a wonderful post, its inspired me to try EC albeit a little late with my 8 month old but all the same I am willing to give it a shot. Have a quick question about cloth diapers and EC book. Which one would u recommend. There are a couple of cloth diapers out there and after using pampers for 8 months I'm throughly confused. Thanks much!!!

GreenDaddy said...

I like the Chinese "pre-fold" cloth diapers. They're basically rectangular pieces. You fold them and place them in a plastic cover. Check out my post on washing them. Here's my review of my favorite EC book. Laurie Boucke, the author of that book, has also released an fantastic DVD called Potty Whisperer that BabyG and I are in.

Sonia said...

Thanks for ur response, I will try them. Any suggestions on diaper covers? Which brands did u like best?

GreenDaddy said...

We've tried a variety of diaper covers. We have a great baby consignment shop in Houston called Young and Restless that keeps a large selection of cloth diapers and diaper covers. Nothing like actually holding the product and asking a store owner questions. Our favorite cover so far has been Imse Vimse. They're made of organic cotton and have cute prints. Bummis are good too. (We've broken our rules and used plastic covers because of the price and awesome patern selections.) I don't like Fuzzi Bunz because the diaper cover itself gets soiled, whereas with the other kinds it's usually just the diaper insert you have to change.

Ahmie said...

OK, I know this is a really old post to be commenting on, but as a Signer I had to pick one little nit that no one else commented on... the sign involves making the letter T, not the letter P (the letter P is made like the symbol on Yellow Pages "let your fingers do the walking"). I see why you'd be confused since the little video clip you used said "potty" when using that sign, but it's actually technically the sign for "toilet". Generally, the sign for "restroom" (the letter R, which is made by crossing your index and middle fingers, is bounced palm-downward in front of you twice) is considered a little more polite (but much more difficult for little fingers to manage!). The individual signs for "pee" and "poop" are generally avoided in polite company (I caught one of my ASL high school students whose mom was deaf signing "pee" in class one time to his friend before asking for the bathroom pass and asked him to mind his manners). If you'd really like to know them I'd be happy to send along links, contact me through my own blog as I'm unlikely to remember where I made this comment (I'm expecting baby #2 in the coming weeks, kiddo #1 is a 3yo bundle of energy, thank goodness Daddy is home for the summer!)

Anonymous said...

BTW, that's a letter T she's making.

Rizza said...

We've been doing sign language with our two month old since birth. She just turned 9 weeks old and starting at 6 weeks she began to use the sign for milk. At 7 weeks she began to use the sign for dry (as in dry diaper) when she'd gone potty. Then during her 8th week she started using the sign for dry while she was still dry. We'd already been using the sign for potty when we changed her and when we could hear her pooping but she'd sign for dry before she needed to be changed. So I started leaving her diaperless when she signed dry and sure enough she's start going very soon. After one week of doing the toilet ("potty") sign she will now sign before she goes. When she's done she breaks out in huge smiles and signs dry. I never knew a child could learn so much so young. I was never planning on elimination communication, but baby did start using her means of communication (sign language) to communication about what is most important to her. And those things happen to be milk and potty. It makes sense that two of the most basic elements of living would be the first things for a baby to learn.

Kimberly said...

I love this post! I love your EC formulas, very funny and true!!!! I'm just browing EC blogs, and really enjoyed your post.

Kimberly said...

p.s. GreenDaddy, I just read your question about the psychic bladder. I do, with my daughter, and a psychic colon as well! It's so much fun waiting for her to finish while I'm ready to go myself!

Kimberly said...

Hi again! I just now noticed the date! Oh well, still a great post!

GreenDaddy said...

There is a BabyG that will be 8 months old and figuring out how to signal potty forever. Right now, the physical her is 3 and a half years old. She gradually became fully "potty trained" or self-reliant. By about a year and a half, she never "missed" and would very clearly express her needs. It was a little while before she could get her pants down and onto an adult potty. At this point though, she's basically on auto-pilot. I remind her whenever we are about to go on a big excursion.

Some people told us when we were ECing that BabyG would have bedwetting problems over the longterm or that we were spending too much time attending to her. She doesn't have bedwetting problems. And my impression is that at some point, parents have to spend a lot of time on getting their kids out of diapers, why not earlier when they are happy to cooperate and before you spend lots of money on plastic diapers (or washing cotton ones)?

I just wish we had used the type of communication we developed around elimination for other needs, like eating and sleeping. It was respectful, kind, communicative, and yet disciplined. Our EC approach ended up being way more developmentally sophisticated than almost anything else we did.