A toddler who is able to sign that they want their diaper changed will certainly amaze others, and yes, it’s entirely possible to teach a baby to do so. Keep in mind as you work through this exercise that not all babies are particularly motivated toward a clean diaper. Some baby don’t like to have their diaper changed period and simply don’t mind being in their mess. Include my son in this category! This makes diaper changes much less motivating for them making it less likely that they will independently request the service! If, after a while you notice that your baby turns and heads the other way when you do this sign, you can basically forget about them signing it independently as it’s pretty obvious your baby is just not going to cooperate. Thankfully, this isn’t exactly an essential sign and certainly something a toddler can do without. However, it has been included because other babies will really appreciate being able to tell their Mom and Dad when it’s time for a diaper change, so giving them a voice on the subject will matter to them.
To sign DIAPER CHANGE just do the sign for CHANGE which is done by closing both fists except the thumbs, resting them knuckle to knuckle, then rotating them in opposite directions. In this case, the word for DIAPER is implied. Conversely, you might just do the sign for DIAPER by itself which implies that you will be changing it. DIAPER is done by turning the hands palm down near the waste and opening and closing the index and middle fingers onto the thumbs a few times as if unpinning the clips of a cloth diaper.
Diaper: The ASL sign for DIAPER is done with the hands held at the hips and the index, middle and thumb opened and closed several times as if opening diaper pins.
Change: The ASL sign for CHANGE is done by clenching hands together facing the opposite direction knuckles touching. The hands are then pivoted in opposite directions.
You will want to do the sign whenever you are just about to change your baby’s diaper. Just after laying your baby down, do the sign for DIAPER CHANGE while turning it into a conversation. You might say “Okay baby, it’s time for DIAPER CHANGE”, “Let’s get you all cleaned up with a new DIAPER.” You can also ask at random throughout the day if your baby needs a DIAPER CHANGE and then go over to check to see if it’s wet or soiled. If you notice that it is, then repeat the sign and say that it’s time to have it changed. A teddy bear or doll can also be a stand-in to help teach the sign. Just repeat the sequence with the doll for the benefit of your baby.