Most parents don't think of personal style as a way to support a toddler's mental health. Studies show that allowing a toddler to dress herself is a great way to boost self confidence and independence.
But before you let your little one flaunt a bathing suit to the mall, it's important to have a plan in place to introduce self-dress. Check out this guide to understanding when and how a toddler should begin to dress herself.
The Toddler Years
Toddler years range from ages 1 to 3. These ages all have very different developmental milestones.
Though no two toddlers are alike, there are a few things to expect based on which end of the toddler age range your child is in. Here are a few things to consider at each age.
One Year Old
When your child turns one, you should be looking for them to sit up on their own and start pointing at objects. They can sometimes identify items you mention or use their own simple phrases to identify things.
Many children aren't using full sentences at this age but can communicate through gestures like shaking their heads. Because walking isn't a universal milestone for one year olds, it'll be tough to teach them to dress themselves.
Clothing in drawers on hung in the closet won't be accessible. You can start self-dress at this age by allowing them to point to colors them like and then helping then put on the clothes they choose.
Two Year Old
Two year olds vary dramatically in their developmental milestones. Some are talking in complete sentences by this age while others still struggling to pronounce words with multiple syllables.
The newest milestone for many toddlers around age two is temper tantrums. You might begin to notice your child rejecting your help with dress more often. Don't worry, this is a toddlers way of showing independence.
The word 'no' will be used more frequently to show you they have their own opinion.
Your refusal to allow them to completely take over the dressing process could result in screams or cries. You can minimize this by offering a smaller selection of options that make sense for the occasion.
Three Year Old
A three year old can typically communicate well with parents. At this age, you introduce new concepts like wearing clothes that are appropriate for the weather.
Use storybooks to teach your child different types of clothing and when they are appropriate. You don't want to stifle a child's creativity, but allow them to explore why people in certain regions wear different types of clothing.
Toddler dress is a way to turn your morning routine into a multi sensory learning experience. Avoid giving your child too many rules on what to wear.
Instead, use self-dress as teachable moments to help them make healthy decisions. As long as they're dressed safely for the occasion, allow your child's creative expression to shine through.
You'll support your child's self confidence and sense of emotional wellbeing. For more tips on choosing great outfits for your baby, visit our blog for updates.