Maven spent time exploring on the floor from five months when he started being able to move himself a bit more than rolling. He would spend about an hour on the floor each day. At first, he just seemed to pee often with no sign I could discern. He was loving being able to move himself more. At times he would pee three times in ten minutes and I saw nothing. Having lots of misses, I put him in his undies a lot, but felt like I was just changing wet pants all the time. So I put down washable quilts and padded towels and had cloths for blotting nearby. Much easier – I was able to respond to a sign quicker than if I had to keep removing his pants – so I felt it reinforced signs faster for us both.
I’d spend a concentrated hour or so each afternoon (when he peed less often) focussed on watching specifically for floor signs with him nakey-butt. I basically started again looking for the clues that he needed to pee. While he was pushing himself up and learning commando crawling and then crawling I still had the ‘frown’ sign that worked, but couldn’t spend all my time staring at his face! (Even though he is so gorgeous!)
At first he had little control with the excitement and different body-pressures of the increased mobility, getting frustrated over only being able to move backwards, being on his belly and trying to coordinate his limbs. He’d yell a lot with pride at his new skills. I realised over the course of six weeks observation and practice that he would get more grizzly if he needed to pee. Often I’d just miss it and realise thinking back as I changed his wet socks that was why he was grizzly. I went on timing and intuition a lot at floor time.
Over the six weeks he began to work out his new floor pee signs himself – at first he would grizzle AFTER he had peed, then he grizzled AS he peed, and by 61/2 months, often BEFORE he peed. Low and behold, I started getting better – we developed better understanding and I began responding to his new signs, and he developed better control and signing. The key development was his ability to sit up. Once he could sit up by himself our communication became clearer, as he’d sit up when he needed to pee!
As soon as he could crawl about I began working on his signing in association with pee-opps. I always keep his pee-bowl in his field of vision. At first he often just wanted to play with it. It is out of the immediate play area, so that if he looks at or moves towards it, it is more of a deliberate act. Initially, he had a pee-opp whenever he looked at it and frowned, or glanced at it several times. I’d quickly grab him and help him, as, like when he was small, the interval between his awareness and the pee was short at this new stage. After a while he was able to begin crawling towards the pee-bowl. I always tap it (just to draw his attention, not as a cue) and ask/sign “toilet?” (tugging an ear lobe) if I see one of his signs. Within a week of practising this an hour or so in the afternoons I was finding positive results! At first it seemed flukey that I caught a pee, until this worked perfectly at least four times one afternoon. I am now finding he gets excited as he moves towards it when he needs to pee. We both keep practicing this technique daily to reinforce his best efforts to communicate his needs to us. He is so smart! At seven months he has also begun to approach us to take him – he crawled over to Chris and patted his leg when he needed a pee break.
Having read that verbal signs are ‘expected’ in many cultures who practice infant hygiene methods, I am working with Maven (7 months) on developing this type of communication, which makes sense as now that he is all over the house crawling, I don’t always see what he is doing. So, I am responding to the short, loud sounds he sometimes makes before he goes. Based on my experiences so far, I’ve found that if I make a mental ‘decision’ to notice a certain sign, I then begin to see it! We are doing well with it, in that at least once a day this is successful, and he is just beginning to do it more – he’ll say “mum mum” when he crawls over to his pee-bowl. He also came in to see me at the computer and squawked at me to take him. We both get very excited about it, he flaps his arms and laughs, as he loves that he communicated his needs to me!
Maven began clearly vocalising as a signal at 9.5 months just before he began to stand on his own. He began regularly communicating his need to pee by sitting up and yelling with a worried expression, grabbing at himself. The yelling is short and loud, with eye contact, a worried expression, grabbing at his tackle and letting go anxiously. When I approach him he’ll start flapping his arms, I’d say “You need to do a wee, mate” and take him to the sink, and we cheer!
The increasingly frequent vocal signalling is part of the swinging door of progress – I’d occasionally see this from about seven months, then not for a while. Then suddenly I realised this is what he was trying to communicate one day, because he would yell, and be sitting with a teensy pee under him, and he’d finish in the sink! Then I was aware to respond next time I heard this particular sound. This happened perfectly several times a day for a few days, even when we were out; it was so cool, and EASY! Then it may be just occasionally for a while. BUT I know he will return to frequent vocal signalling again.
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