Monday, March 22, 2010

Pooey Looey

Warning: Ya’ll are going to think ds.mama is a bit nuts after this post. But I swear to you as crazy as it seems, it works. And successfully getting my 18 month old with Down syndrome ready to potty train is worth all your laughter and scorn :-)

Ah... potty training, a daunting task to accomplish with any child... Some people see potty training as an event, something you settle down and do one week. Not me... in our house potty training is a process that begins with elimination awareness and eventually ends two years or so later with saying bye bye to pull ups at bedtime.

During our last IFSP meeting, I mentioned that one of my goals over the next six months was to begin pre-potty training... Six shocked faces stared silently at me. Summer was 16 months old and her team was probably trying to figure out how to break it to me that she was nowhere near ready to start potty training.

Little did they know, I have been “pre-potty training” Summer since she was about six months old. I had learned some interesting things about potty training with my first few kids and I decided as each one came along to add to the “pre-potty training” repertoire all that I was noticing. I also had a friend who bravely did the EC method with her only child, and had relative success with it. I thought to myself, why not take the best of all this and see what happens.

Pre-potty training tricks
The very first step you can take, at any early age you choose, is to help your child connect elimination with a special sound. Notice how your infant child acts when he is poopin. There is likely going to be some grunting, wriggling, and a red face. Take the time to identify to your child what is happening. I sing a goofy made-up song to a warped version of the Sanford and Son theme song.... It goes something like, “A poo poo pooey, a pooey looey, a poo poo poo poo poo poo poo, a pooey looey...” Ahem, you get the idea (and yes, I do refrain in public).

If I have missed the event, I sing it when I am changing her diaper. The only time she hears this goofy song is when she is going or has gone poo. Over time, she has made the connection.

The next step is to help your baby associate going potty with a potty-chair in the bathroom. You can begin this step once your baby can sit on a chair or low bench on her own and can understand cause and effect and sequence. (An example of understanding sequence is that your child knows his routine and expects certain things to happen next. I usually start this step around 16-18 months old.)

pottyFind a sturdy, comfy potty chair to keep in your bathroom. Make the sign for bathroom and then put her on the potty (clothes, diaper, and all) when she shows that she is getting busy. Sing the goofy poop song, and imitate her grunting. Yup, you read that right. Do some face to face grunting and then tell her it is her turn. She will imitate you back and you will be happily surprised at the results.

I do not start off doing this every day or for every elimination. When we have the time, and she seems very alert and is in a good mood, I will take her into the potty and let her practice. Sometimes if I am sure she hasn’t already started going, I will let her sit diaperless and actually go in the potty.

My pre-potty training goal is to teach her body to expect to go on the potty when she needs to poo. I have given her elimination awareness, a sign to use, and practice in the position. Next year, when she is ready to start actual potty training, she’ll already have these basics ingrained.

Your Turn
Ok moms who have been there, done that... do tell. How and when did you start potty training, and what worked best for your child?

From Theory to Practice :-)

Tausha: No Way!!! That did not just happen!!


  1. I have every intention of starting my bear cub's potty training as soon as she is walking, hopefully by age 2. With my older one that only has 46 chromosomes, I started right before she turned 2 and she was mostly potty trained within a week. Both HATE being wet, so I'm hoping that helps as much with my second child as it had with my first.

  2. I pretty much used this method with my first. Was wondering how it would work with a child who is not walking yet, so thanks for the tips!

  3. I wish I could say I started at 18 months but I was still getting over having twins (never mind the DS... that didn't take me any time to "get over") LOL! I have always acknowledged -- me to them first, now them to me -- when peeing or pooping was happening. Then, with every diaper change, we pee in the pot (handheld) before the clean diap goes on. And, we dispose of the pee in the pot or poops in the diaper by the boys helping me dump them into the big potty and the boys doing the "flush & close" (the lid). We've had genital-surgical interruptions (and another one yet) but we're getting ready to move forward to the 20-minute intervals in undies. I think/hope they're ready. The school won't cooperate so it has to be during the break and the good weather is a great time to do it so they can go w/o pants... just undies to wet. Wishing you luck and asking for same ;o)!

  4. This is one of the most useful posts you've ever written. I have never heard of this technique before. Also, I didn't know the Sanford and Son theme song was so malleable. But this is really great info, and it makes a lot of sense, and I'm eager to try this. The whole potty training thing has been one of the aspects of Ds that has caused me some anxiety. I like that you are tackling it fearlessly like this.

  5. LOL, I love it! I sing funny poop songs all the time to my son! I do it so that he will sit still long enough for me to change his diaper though! My son is 18 months, but is not walking yet, the day he does...the pre potty training will begin!! Thanks for all the great tips!

  6. what a great way to introduce the potty to your little one. I'll have to make up our own little song for Marissa. Going poop is always quite a show with her anyway. haha

  7. I think I'm going to do the same. We can at least do some of the pre training work. He already says "poop" when he is either pooping in his diaper or after so I know he's increasing his awareness. Thanks for the kick in the ("poopy") pants!!!

  8. Great tips...but now I can't get the Sanford and Sons song out of my head...Thanks a lot! =)

  9. I'm not sure how it was done, I'm guessing from watching her brother use the bathroom, but Ella is 3 1/2 and has been pooping in the potty for the better part of a year. She will pee occasionally in the potty, always will right before her bath. I don't push her, she will NOT do anything that isn't her idea anyway, so I figure when she wants to she will, no biggie!!

  10. I don't know any more about EC than what you've written here, but almost everything else is very familiar. Well, except the S&S adaptation, which is AWESOME.

    My husband started putting M on the potty 1x/day (right after dinner) last year. She was about 22-23 months old. Since then, she's done awesome and will sometimes alert us to her needs by signing "toilet." We also got the same looks from our "team" so there was no support outside of the home (she's in daycare FT) until about a month ago. I change very, very few poopy diapers now. YAY!

    But, now what I fear is that we've simply given her options. Diaper, pull-up, or potty? I don't think she minds where she pees so eventually we just need to bite the bullet and give panties a try. Scary thought.

  11. I bow to you! I may have a handful of children, but none was as methodical and early as your precious Summer. Love the pic. I do think John Michael is now getting the awareness of having to go poop. Poor boy suffered terrible constipation for his first 27 months and now all of a sudden is going one or two times per day and patting his chest if I ask if he needs to "make poopies". It just might be time to get a cute little potty chair like yours. :-)

  12. Thank you so much for the information. Sam is basically my first child so I have never potty trained even a child without DS so I am CLUELESS! Sam is 20 months so I am going to go and get a potty and start doing this. This is one aspect of DS that has stressed me out as well. Thank you so much for visiting my blog so I could find yours!!

  13. I do NOT think you are crazy! I started poo-training my older (chromosomally-typical) son before he turned one; he was out of diapers at age 2, except for overnight. I haven't been as vigilant with my younger (chromosomally-enhanced) son. One, he feels uncomfortable and unstable sitting on the potties we've tried so far; Two, when I hear him grunting at 5 AM I just don't have the energy to get up and set him on the toilet! Soooo much more exhausting with two...!

    How do you think the hypotonia associated with DS will affect your (our) attempts with potty-learning?

  14. I wish I'd had your insight in the past. Your ideas sound great to me. I guess I have my chance to do it differently this time. But with the other 4 I just watched them to show signs of readiness: interest in potties, dry diapers for 3 hours or more, etc. Then we did it cold turkey for 3 days. If it worked great, if not I tried again one month later for 3 days. I kept doing this until they took to the potty training in the alotted 3 days. 4 children: the oldest took 1 try, the 2nd took 3 tries, the 3rd took 2 tries, and the 4th took 4 tries. Good luck to everyone and their method.

  15. Thanks for the tips! Gwyneth is 2 but not yet walking so I haven't thought about this much yet (she's our first child). Luckily, she already knows the sign for "potty" which we practice every time she has a poo. This was one of the first signs she learned thanks to Baby Signing Time; and because of her constipation, she learned the sign for "hurt" as well... I'm hoping that since she is aware of going "potty" it will make our start into potty training a little easier.

  16. Okay, you have to go and see my post called No Way!! That did not just happen!! Thank you so much for your great insight and information!!!

  17. I gave you a blog award because you are awesome!!!! Go to my blog to get it.

  18. I started Joe at about 2 yrs and he was potty trained by 6 yrs. He was wearing underwear at 4 1/2 but wasn't really potty trained. What we did was we took him to the potty every hour and praised him for success. Eventually we increased the time to every two hours. His teachers followed this method in Early On and in kindergarten. Joe rarely initiated going to the bathroom but could stay dry all night since he was three years old. It was only at 6 years old that he started going on his own and telling people when he needed to use the bathroom. He stopped pooping in his pants at around 4 1/2 years old, the struggle after that was wetting his pants. For him it was a completely different thing. I found potty training incredibly challenging. But I also found that people have different definitions of "potty trained."

  19. We've done EC with Goldie since she was 4 months old. I decided to try it because I didn't enjoy pt'ing my other kids. I've learned so much from EC that I wish I had known with my older two. This is a great post! Goldie just turned 3 and we are still on our journey to being diaper free. I touched on it briefly here:

  20. You are not crazy. I've been using EC techniques with A since she was about 6 months old or 7 months now. I didn't do any of that with my older son and I wish I had.

    At 13 months, we listen for her telltale poo sound and when we don't miss it, she will eliminate on the big toilet. I put her on the little potty about once per day and she does a pee. We don't have such a brilliant song, just the 'psssss' sound for pee and grunting for poo. I don't consider her 'trained' or diaper free yet but I know she is getting the idea and it will be much easier later.

    I was inspired to do this after attending a parent support meeting and hearing all kinds of nightmare-ish stories about their experiences. Why not start early while I'm home?

    I am concerned about losing ground once she is with a care provider or daycare later this year. Does anyone have any experience with that transition?

  21. WOW I'm totally inspired to get started with this now!
    I need to sign the toilet sign all the time now - and start learning this EC method and the SONG! Thank you!
    I'll report back soon!


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