Sometimes I use to feel like I was wrestling a pig out of mud when it came time to putting clothes on my toddler.
But as I continued into motherhood and then a nanny, I discovered little tricks to make my life easier. Now, I’ll share these handy strategies I’ve learned over the years, hopefully making clothing changes easier for you, avoiding meltdowns and keeping your sanity.
Putting a shirt on shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Yet, your toddler will scream and fight as if you are planning to choke them.
I’m not going to pretend I know… because I don’t. But I have figured out ways to get the dang shirt on, without a battle.
Play peek-a-boo. (What toddler doesn’t like the game peek-a-boo?)
Example: “Let’s play peek-a-boo.” Slide the shirt over the head, “where is (name)? Oh! There he/she is! Now let’s find your hands.”
Example 2: (pull shirt over their head) “Where did you go? Where are you?” (shirt exposes head) There you are!
Then for the sleeves, “Where did your hand go… I can’t find it…” (as it pushes through the sleeve) “Oh there it is!”
The Warning: If they are holding a possession in their hand don’t make them put it down, instead say, “let’s see if the other hand can hold it….” (This will prevent a freak out, because they believe you are taking it away.)
The trick is to quickly make each movement as you talk through it.
There is an extra fun trick to the pants – have the socks and shoes ready too! (This will save you time in the long run and you won’t have to chase them back down, later.)
Sit your child down in your lap. This gives you more control and better access. “Your pants want to hug you! Let’s see if they can hug you!”
“Wait, where did your feet go? Oh there they are!” (as you push them through…)
Now for the triple in one…
“Your feet are cold! They want hugs too!” Slide both socks on while they are still sitting in your lap. Then quickly slide the shoes on next. Stand them up and pull up their pants the rest of the way.
Pajamas are usually one of the easiest to put on at night and the hardest to get off in the morning because they are so comfy.
Even as adults, we can relate to that, right?
I’m going to say straight up, do not buy button pajamas for your six month to toddler. It will be a pain in rear most days. Zippers are quick and fast. If they made Velcro – even better. (Velcro clothes too!)
There is a book by Sandra Boynton called Pajama Time! This book is magical, mostly because the words turn into a fun jingle and your tot will love when you sing it. (I still have it memorized)
“It’s pajama time! Oooo oooo Pajama time!” This really turns pajama time into a fun bed time routine.
Now, Getting them off in-the morning to put those ‘dreadful’ clothes on can be a fight. Try by reassuring your toddler that those pajamas need a bath. “They are so dirty!” (even better if they honestly didn’t have a bath the night before.) They still might resist, but when you continue reassuring it, your toddler will be too busy processing the visit to the washing machine, leaving you plenty of time to strip them down.
This won’t be an ongoing process, they will understand the reason and stop fighting.
Boots are tricky, some parents avoid them because they are a pain in the behind to get on.
I figured this trick out with my son by accident, desperately figuring out a way to explain how to get his foot into the snug shoe. It still works for him at age seven, and all the kids I nanny for.
One word: “Kick.”
Once you have the boot around their foot, hold it sternly and say, “Now, kick kick!”
They think it’s a great time and the boot slides right over the heel.
Mittens are a less tricky than gloves, but I’ll explain both.
Mittens: Tell your child to put their fingers close together, slide the mitten over the hand and then space the thumb inside the glove while working it to the top.
Gloves: Tell your tot to put their fingers close together (think of a beauty queen wave) Once the tip of the fingers are in the entrance of the glove, begin spreading the fingers toward each hole. Work with the longest finger first. As you guide them up the hole, continue to keep the pinky finger and thumb separated (your little one will keep putting them against the other fingers, causing them to go in the wrong hole.) Talk them through what you are doing so they understand and can work with you. Incorporate the word, “Teamwork.” or use phrases such as “We are a good team.”
Soon you’re little one, growing into a big kid, will continue to work with you when putting gloves on. A small reminder each winter will trigger what they need to do.
If you read my blog, Toddler Talk: Avoiding Temper Tantrums, you will remember me emphasizing the magic of signing. Like charming a snake with a flute pipe.
There is a beautiful song, and dreadfully catching, that I learned at baby story time at our local library. I have applied it to clothing – seat belts – bibs etc.
This Jbrary duo I found on YouTube couldn’t give a better example.
Here are the lyrics: Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3 Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3 Leg to the left, leg to the right Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight. Leg to the left, leg to the right Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight. Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3 Other Verses: shirt, socks, shoes, hat, gloves, coat, diaper anything your little one protest.
Good Luck and May The Force Be With You!
Cheers to keeping you younger!