Baby Sign Language when potty training

baby sign language

Baby sign language is such a powerful tool! I’m so happy I got in contact with baby sign language when my first child was about 7 month old. It saved us from so many frustrating moments. Don’t let communication become a barrier, baby sign language is so easy to learn and so very useful , for potty training but also in many other situations.

My name is Thomas and I’m a father to 2 wonderful kids. Even before my children were born I thought a lot about how to make them diaper free as early as possible. All kinds of ideas popped up in my head. Let them spend the days outside naked, using cloth diapers, Elimination Communication, special designed bucket between their legs, remove all furniture and cover the house in plastic, cover the house with newspapers, let them grow up in the bathtub or a kiddie pool on the floor. As you hopefully understand, not all of these ideas were serious. 🙂

Anyhow, I did a lot of research on the subject and started trying cloth diapers which didn’t work at all for me. We also started practicing Elimination Communication from the time they were born. This was a greater success. Combining Baby sing language with Elimination Communication opens up a new dimension to Elimination Communication. It’s so cool to see your baby communicating before they can talk.

Benefits with baby sign language

ipottytrain.comWhen your baby is born, all she can do to communicate is to scream. This is a very effective way to get attention but not very good to tell what you want. As your baby grows older she will start doing different sounds or screams for basic things. Often she will have different sounds for being hungry, being tired, pain, need of closeness and in need of diaper change. As you can see, this is very limiting and not all babies does different sounds while some babies only do few of the sounds mentioned above.

The solution is baby sign language! Which parent hasn’t been in the situation where your baby is screaming and you start trying one thing after another. Hmm, not hungry, nothing in the diaper, no burp and holding her doesn’t help either. And after perfunctory going through your “checklist”, your baby  is screaming even more! With baby sign language your baby will be able to tell you what she wants. 🙂

Using baby sign language will give you a more harmonic environment with less tantrums and frustrations. That’s not all. Studies have shown that babies who use baby sign language increase their IQ. Using baby sign language while your child is “pre-verbal” will affect your child later on in life. It’s been shown that they outperform non-signing children in both language development and IQ when starting school.

That leads me in to yet another benefit with baby sing language. Language development. Children who use baby sign language usually start speaking earlier. Not only will you be able to talk verbally with your child earlier, but your child will also get a head start. This means she will be able to build up a larger vocabulary in a shorter amount of time. There are more benefits and really no disadvantages. I love baby sign language and strongly recommend everybody to look into it.

Let’s make a summary about the benefits

  1. Decrease frustration
  2. Increased IQ
  3. Earlier language development
  4. Easier Elimination Communication & Potty training
  5. Larger vocabulary
  6. Your child will know an extra language “for free”

How can baby sign language help with potty training?

ipottytrain.comThis is a page about potty training so how can baby sign language make potty training easier? Depending on your child and when you decide to start potty training, your child might not be very verbal. This is not uncommon and nothing to worry about, all children are different and get verbal at different ages.

This can however become a problem when potty training since she will not be able to tell you when she needs to go. Using baby sign language she will have a sign for using the toilet. Some are even more advanced and use different signs for pee and poo. The goal here is to make your child make a sign every time she needs to use the toilet/potty.

Before potty training our children we used Elimination Communication as mentioned above. This way you can have a 7 months old baby tell you when she needs visit the lavatory. Isn’t that just amazing?!

Baby sing language can help you with more things related to potty training. For instance tell you when she is done or if there’s more on its way. If she reads books on the toilet she can tell you that she wants a book. Tell you that she has done something in the potty and it needs to be emptied.

When can I start using baby sign language?

ipottytrain.comYou can start using baby sing language right from birth if you want. Most children will start trying to sign somewhere around 6 months so it’s fine to wait until then. I began signing when my first child was 7 months old. She picked it up immediately and started doing signs the very first time we tried it. At first she didn’t understand what the sign meant and when to use it but she learned quickly.

A good indicator for when your child is ready to start using baby sign language, is when she starts trying to communicate with her hands. Some examples could be pointing, waving or doing other gestures. This means that your child probably is able to sign as well.

It’s never too late to start using baby sign language. Starting later only means you won’t be able to benefit from is as much as if you would have started earlier. When you child is getting older baby sign language can become an important tool to show emotions.

Somewhere around the age of 2 children develop more independence. This is a very emotional period with constant dramas and tantrums . When a small child is upset it’s almost impossible for her to communicate verbally. This is because her “logical brain” is in conflict with her “emotional brain” so what comes out of the mouth will just be a mix of what she wants to say and what she’s feeling. During times like this, baby sign language will help your child to communicate and show emotions.

Where do I start?

Starting using baby sign language is super easy! You choose 1 or more signs, but not more than 4, to start with. Learn how they are done and then always do the sign in every situation you say that word. For instance, one of the first words I thought my child was “more“. So when we were eating I could ask her if she wanted more water or more food verbally and at the same time do the sign for “more”. Same  thing if we were done reading a book I could ask her if she wanted to read more books and at the same time do the sign for “more”.

I started with just one word and when she understood the meaning of it and signed it herself I added 2 more words. Some of the first words I used was more, toilet, drink, eat, full, clever, book and sandwich. You can choose whichever you want and you think you will have the most use of in the beginning. I do recommend starting with a word that’s easy to sign.

Things to look out for before starting

Before using baby sign language there are a few things to consider. One important thing to be aware of is that there are many baby sign language languages and they are often quite different from each other. By this I mean that most countries have their own baby sign language and some even have more than one because they follow different standards.

Then it’s also good to know that baby sign language is not the same as sign language. Baby sign language is used by hearing parents and caregivers to improve communication. Sign language (including ASL) is used by deaf people to communicate. Most countries also have their own sign language.

This means that the first thing you need to do is to choose a language. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose but I do recommend using baby sign language and not sign language. The reason for this is that baby sign language has been simplified and is less complicated to learn. If you don’t know which one to choose I have a few recommendations further down.

Best baby sign language resources

There are many baby sing resources out there. You can find several online resources including courses, compendiums, apps, videos and other downloadable materials. Then there are books, flash cards, posters and materials sold on fairs and markets etc. I have tried several methods and these are the ones I recommend you to get.

Flash cards

ipottytrain.comFlash cards are great! I have bunches of flash cards, they are grouped containing different subjects. For instance, I have a few containing signs of foods, 4 with animals, 1 with emotions and others containing environment, basics, technology, kitchen appliances, beach, people and so on.

The good thing about flash cards is that they are always nearby and it’s easy to look up a sign you want to learn. You can also show your baby the flash card and to the sign together. The ones I got are of good quality and will last for a long time.


ipottytrain.comFlash cards are great but some signs can be difficult to interpret from a 2d drawing. Videos are great for showing how the sign is done in detail. I usually look up a sign in my flash cards and if in doubt how it’s supposed to be done I also look at a video. The next time I look at the flash card I remember how they did it in the video.


ipottytrain.comWhile I really like books, when it comes to baby sign language, I think there are better options. Books are inconvenient because you want to be able to look up signs quickly and you don’t want the book to break. I use my flash cards while eating, cooking, swimming, in the garden, well, while living! The book would break sooner than later, but the flash cards can just be wiped off if they get dirty. I don’t know, at least I didn’t use my baby sign language books after reading them once. They were just too inconvenient.

Online resources

There are many courses and online resources for baby sign language. Some are free and others cost money. If you’re just getting started you can find many signs for free by using Google. The problem with this is, as I mentioned above, that there are many different languages to choose between. If you Google a sign and then later Google another sign, chances are that they are signed in different languages.

This will cause inconsistency which will become a problem later on. Paid resources usually have all sings in one language. They also often have flash cards, posters, videos and other smart things that you can download, all in the same language. 🙂

Start using baby sign language

ipottytrain.comWhen I first got into baby sign language I got confused when people were doing different signs for the same word. Later I realized that there are many different baby sign languages based on different sign languages as explained above. At this time I had already started to learn some signs but they were a mix of different languages. I realized I had to decide which baby sign language standard I wanted to follow.

The big ones are AUSLAN, baby sign language based on ASL and baby sign language based on BSL. AUSLAN is Australian sign language, ASL is American sign language and BSL is British sign language. Then there are many other languages but they are not as big as the ones above. I recommend choosing one of the above, even if  you’re from a non English speaking country. Reason is, it will be much easier for you to find material and resources.

So which language did I choose? I actually chose to continue with AUSLAN. I’m not Australian so that’s not the reason why. I just liked the signs in AUSLAN and had already learned quite a few. I’m happy with my choice but I’m sure it would have worked out fine with ASL or BSL as well. 🙂

Here are some of my recommendations of resources if you want to start using baby sign language.


I used to recommend Tinytalk by Alison Basson, however it doesn’t seem to be available for purchase any longer. Too bad. But don’t worry, there are other resources available. Another good option is Cath Smith. She’s got lots of different resources, mostly based on BSL but some are based on AUSLAN as well. You can find both books and flash cards and they are mostly grouped into different themes. Thet are very easy to use and available for both Kindle and as physical resources. I strongly recommend the none Kindle-versions since a Kindle can be quite distractive for our little ones. There’s also an online resource where you can search for a word and find the AUSLAN sign for that word. Most of the signs are filmed which makes it easy to follow. Best of all, it’s all free of charge!

ipottytrain.comAnother good resource is SignPlanet. It’s a free online resource with some purchase options (I have only used the free parts). Here you will find downloadable flash cards and videos showing how to make the signs. I think there are a few posters with common signs as well.


Since I haven’t used ASL much myself, I don’t know that many things to recommend. A friend of mine showed me some really nice flash cards. I really liked them and their baby seemed to like them too. You can buy them here or use the link below.

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