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How to Get a Toddler Dressed in 50 Steps

Toddlers are a special breed of child: not a baby, but not quite an official kid. They’re complicated, emotional, moody, wild, sweet, ferocious, and capricious. My 3-and-a-half-year-old has the attitude of a teenager, but the erratic nature of a 100-year-old stick of dynamite. Getting said toddler dressed is a task with complexities and is not for the weak of heart. Here’s how to get a toddler dressed in 50 steps.

  1. Emotional preparation: You never know what the next few minutes have in store, so you have to prepare for anything. Take a deep breath. You can do this.
  2. Physical preparation: Do a few morning stretches. (And make a mental note to start doing more cardio at the gym.)
  3. That one clearance shirt that you don’t love is the only thing they ever want to wear. Go ahead and pull it out. (And make a mental note to only buy things you actually like moving forward.)
  4. Verbal warning to toddler: “Okay, it’s time to get dressed.”
  5. Act fast. Grab that little guy or gal before they run away.

    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
  6. Chase your little guy or gal when they get away. Sprints for the day? Check.
  7. Tickle. Tickling helps camouflage that you’re actually trying to get something done, which helps actually trying to get something done.
  8. Skin the rabbit. My parents would always use this saying as they pulled my pajama shirt over my head. Disturbing imagery, but you know the step I’m talking about.
  9. Less is more. Too many options can add hours to this process. Keep their choices simple.
  10. Explain why they can’t wear their Captain America costume or Elsa dress to preschool.

    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
  11. Let your toddler pick which shirt to wear; it helps them feel independent.
  12. Pull their “favorite” clearance shirt on.
  13. Take the “itchy” shirt off.
  14. Pull their “favorite” red shirt on.
  15. Take the red shirt off.
  16. Put their actual “favorite” green shirt on.
  17. Turn getting dressed into a game. “Who can get dressed fastest?”
  18. Pull on a pair of pants.
  19. Take them off when you see that they have a huge stain on the knee.
  20. Put second pair of pants on.
  21. Take them off when you realize they’ve already outgrown them.
  22. Chase your kiddo down … again.
  23. Assure kiddo that you’re almost done.
  24. Put third pair of pants on.
  25. Cuff pants because they’re (of course) too long.
  26. Look for matching socks.
  27. Find your toddler. They’re probably hiding in the closet or behind a chair.
  28. Give up looking for matching socks and settle for socks that are similar in colors.
  29. Assure your child that wearing two different colored socks isn’t the end of the world.
  30. Distract them with a toy when that doesn’t work.
  31. Change shirt, which now has spilled juice down the front.
  32. Like a crime detective, retrace their last steps to track down their shoes.
  33. Keep looking. While one might be in the toy box, the other one might be under the bed.
  34. Once found, make a tree.
  35. Have the rabbit jump around the tree and into the hole.
  36. Pull the rabbits ears. (It’s never too early to start teaching.)

    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
  37. Ask your tot: “Which sweater: gray or yellow?”
  38. Fine. Toss those aside and pull out the striped one.
  39. Explain that even though they aren’t cold now, they will be once they go outside.
  40. Promise them.
  41. “Trust me!”
  42. Carry sweater for them until they realize they need it.

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    Image Source: Summer Bellessa
  43. Take off pants and shoes to change dirty diaper.
  44. Wrestle pants back on.
  45. Explain that the sun is shining and you don’t need your rain boots today.
  46. Re-find shoes (you know you just had them).
  47. Repeat steps 34 – 36.
  48. Evaluate your work so far. Make sure you haven’t missed anything.
  49. Throw a hat on their head as they walk out the door in hopes that they don’t realize it’s even on. They do.
  50. Reward yourself with whatever you’ve hidden in the fridge. Diet Coke? Junior Mints? You deserve it.
Image Source: Summer Bellessa
Image Source: Summer Bellessa

You’ve finished your first task of the day, now you only have 500 more things to do. Take heart knowing this stage won’t last forever. Then remember that once they get into the school years, your struggles just change into different ones. Oh, motherhood, isn’t it grand.

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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