Trying to dress a toddler can be one of the most mind-bending, patience-testing challenges you'll face as a parent.
But hang in there, these tips will help. In a recent Feed Play Love Helpline, listener Sarah asked our resident child expert Chris Minogue how to win the almost unwinnable war of clothing her almost three-year-old son, and Chris had some great, common-sense advice that all parents can use.
Pick your battles
Chris recommends that you pick your battles where possible.
“Don’t argue about clothes,” she says. “There are so many big things you have to argue about in life, clothes is not one of them.”
However, she does recognise that clothes are very necessary for daycare, colder months and special occasions, so here are her ideas to manage each situation with limited push back.
Listen to Chris on Helpline:
When it comes to daycare or a regular day at home, take the anxiety out of the morning routine by letting them choose ... to a degree. If they’re going to constantly argue, curate a drawer of clothes where they can choose anything they want to put on.
“Let him choose anything out of that drawer that he wants to put on, but coincidentally everything in that drawer matches,” Chris suggests.
That way, you can also ensure that weather-appropriate clothes are in there too.
If your child does insist on picking unsuitable clothes, Chris says it won't take them long to realise Mum or Dad was right.
She shares this example, when she was on a plane with a family: During the trip, the child undressed itself and would not put any clothes on. They were landing in a Northern Hemisphere winter. When they walked out the door of the airport and then back in, they managed to put the clothes on with no argument.
“Sometimes you have to let them go a little bit for them to work it out,” Chris says.
If it is an event where you want them dressed in something specific, Chris says to do it early.
A toddler usually argues when you’re disrupting an activity. They’re in a play moment, doing something else, and they have a conniption because they don’t want to leave it. To avoid this, get dressed at the very start of the day, or at least as early as possible.
“As soon as he gets out of bed, take his pyjamas off and put his clothes on, because then he doesn’t argue about it,” Chris says.
Then you just have to make sure you provide them with plenty of options for non-messy play, so their special clothes stay clean.
Check out Chris' book Bringing Baby Home on the Pan McMillan website.
Have a question of your own? Get in touch with Chris on Helpline, and tune in Fridays at 11.30am.
Kids, record a Mother Day's radio message for mum!
Leave your Mum a special message and we’ll play it on the radio in the week leading up to Sunday May 13.
Help! My baby's refusing solids
How to get them chowing down food.
3 steps to dealing with deep wounds
As gross as it is, it's important to be prepared!
Hazards in the handbag and the home
What to watch when they get to grabbing.
When to seek a second medical opinion
Should you take your doctor's opinion to be the be-all and end-all?
4 backyard plant hazards to know
Common dangers families should be aware of.
Beat the blues: How to treat bluebottle stings
What to do if you're feeling blue(bottle pain).
How to ditch the dummy for good
Time to say goodbye to that slippery sucker? These three steps will help.