EPISODE 225: Building Sound Association
Hello and welcome to the Go Diaper Free podcast. I'm your host for today's episode, Nicole Cheever, Go Diaper Free Certified Coach and mama of three kiddos who all did EC and potty training at different ages and stages.
Welcome back. This is episode 225 Building Sound Association. You can find all of the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/225. Leave us a comment over there, ask us any questions you have and everything I talk about in the show is always conveniently linked over there on the blog. Today we have a question from Vip.
Vip: Hi Andrea, my name is Vip. I'm from Toronto and I've just got one little one, an eight-week-old, and my specific question is with regards to beginning that communication with the sounds for pee and poop with a little one that is in a diaper. I feel I'm not able to catch that in time, so I really appreciate your help. Thank you so much.
Thank you Vip, and congratulations on your new baby. It might feel like a long time, but eight weeks is so new. Congratulations! Everything you would ever need to know about starting with a newborn is going to be in the Go Diaper Free book. Our podcast here is really helpful, we've got social media, we have the blog, but if you really want everything all in one place, go to the book. It is a digital copy so you get lifetime updates. There is a paperback option that you can upgrade to if you really feel like you need to hold something in your hands, or you like to highlight, but either way, you get access to our free online community as well. It's currently housed on Mighty Networks and we have coaches over there who can answer questions. We have other parents who can give insights and support, so the book really is the best way to get all of this information all in one place.
I'll also link Episode 38, which explains a little bit about why we do sound dissociations in EC. I'm not going to really go into that in this episode, but I will just mention that other animals signal their young when it's okay to pee and poop because you don't want your babies, as an animal, pooping in the bed or in the den or wherever you may be. So other animals have some way to signal their babies that it is okay to poo or pee. The other thing I want to mention is, for those of you who maybe have had dogs before and are familiar with clicker training, this is a little bit like clicker training. I was a dog trainer in a past life and when I first heard about EC, it was actually when I was a dog trainer. My friend explained it to me and said, "while my baby's peeing, I make the sound pss pss and she learns that that means it's pee pee time." I said, "oh, that makes tons of sense. It's exactly the way you train really any basic obedience with a clicker!” So if you have familiarity with that, that may help you to understand a little bit why this works.
You said you don't feel like you can catch it because your baby's in a diaper, and I want to encourage you that you don't have to catch all of them to build sound association. It's not about making the sound every single time they go potty, but eventually, over time when you do it little by little, they will start to connect that. And of course the more you do it, most likely the quicker they will catch onto it, but don't feel like you have to catch every single pee and poop in order to do the sound associations. That's really unrealistic. Even when we do full-time EC, we're really only catching about half of the poos and pees, so do not put that pressure on yourself, especially with an eight-week-old.
You want to decide what sounds you're going to use. Most of us use something that's similar to the sound of water for pee, something like “psh” or “pss.” And then for poop, often we will use a kind of grunting sound like “mmm mmm.” If you're holding your baby in the classic EC hold over a sink or toilet, you have their back against your chest or the top of your abdomen, and they can actually feel your body contracting when you make that grunting sound. They can feel your abdomen contracting so it encourages them to do that as well. It teaches them both by sound and feel that it's time to go potty, so that's a fun and helpful association for them to make as well.
I would start with the easy catches. It is possible to signal your baby in a diaper when your baby is pooping. Most newborns are very loud poopers and, at the very least, if they're not a loud pooper, they often squirm or make a face. It's usually pretty easy to tell when a newborn's pooping, so when they start pooping, you can make the grunting sound and they will start to associate that sound. Then when you do take them for a pottytunity, you can hold them over the receptacle and make that grunt and it lets them know it's okay to poop, especially if your newborn is breastfed. They often are pooping all the time, pretty much at every pottytunity. Every time you offer they're going to be pooping, so building that poop sound association can be really helpful. I've also found with my babies that pee often comes after the poop. The poop comes in spurts or stages, and then when they're all done, they start peeing, so then you have the opportunity to make that pee sound association when they're doing it.
Again, we want to make the sound when it's happening. You've got a tiny little squishy newborn, they're not going to understand if you make these sounds when they're not pooping or peeing. Then it's just going to be meaningless to them because they can't catch any pattern of when it's happening, so we want to make these sounds while it's happening. If you have a Top Hat Potty or something that you can pull out very quickly when they are pooping, because it comes in stages, once you know the pooping is happening, you can start to grunt. Or you can even say, “wait,” even at eight weeks old, you can say, “wait.” Take the diaper off, sit them on the Top Hat Potty. With my youngest I never even used the Top Hat Potty because the chair I nursed in was right by the bathroom. So I would just say “wait” when she started pooping, go into the bathroom, take the diaper off, and hold her over the sink to catch the rest of it.
Because it comes out in spurts, you often have the opportunity, even if you don't catch the whole thing, to at least catch a little bit, and every little bit helps you build that association. When they are newborns you can alternate the pooping and the pee sound. You can go “pss mmm mmm pss” because they do often alternate those things, especially because the poop comes out in spurts. I would also really encourage you to do some observation with your baby, whether it is holding them in your lap with some kind of waterproof pad over. I'll link the one we have at Tiny Undies, it's a very nice soft waterproof pad. You can do tummy time or floor time with the waterproof pad and use The Log app to not only see if there's a pattern – like if they have a certain amount of time that they'll wait before pooping or peeing after feeding or after waking up – or with their natural timing, if there's an interval, like they pee every 15 minutes, which is not uncommon for a baby that young.
My mom made a comment one time that she thinks that EC is really easy with a newborn because they're just peeing all the time, and that's true. They are peeing a lot, which is one of the reasons that we don't try to catch everything. And it's also really helpful because there are lots of opportunities.
Even if you're just picking one of these opportunities a day, it's going to help you with the sound associations. I'm a big proponent of part-time EC. If you even just catch one pee or poop a day, you're practicing EC and you're still getting all of the benefits of EC. You're still introducing the potty to your baby at an early age. You are still setting them up for success, for not being afraid of the potty, understanding where it's supposed to go. You're still saving diapers, everything, even if you're just doing one catch a day.
The nice thing too about an eight-month-old is the observation is really easy because they're not mobile yet. They're not going anywhere so that waterproof pad on the ground or in your lap can be really helpful. As your baby gets older, you will transition to words, phrases, maybe sign language signals, and last week's Episode 224 talked all about how you can get a toddler to signal. If you're listening to this and you have an older baby, that's going to be one of the episodes to listen to. You can also look at The Tiny Potty Training Book if your baby is 18 months or older. Or even if they're really close to that, I would say as early as 15 or 16 months, you can take a look at the Tiny Potty Training book and instead of using sound, you are going to be teaching your child what to say to you when they need to go potty.
That's what I've got for you here today. Vip, thank you so much for the question. For those of you listening, how did you build sound associations with your baby? If you're just starting out, which of these tips are you going to try? Head over to godiaperfree.com/225. Leave us a comment, ask us any of your questions. We've got coaches answering on there and we're happy to help. We will see you over on the blog.
Thanks so much for listening. This is the Go Diaper Free podcast at godiaperfree.com. We'll see you next time.