How to Dress a Toddler in 30 Easy Steps

Do you have a toddler? Do you attempt to convince him or her to wear clothing every day? Have you found this process time-consuming and dangerous? Are you looking for strategies to make your morning routine go a little more smoothly? Then you’ll find my 30-step method for dressing my feisty and opinionated toddler completely useless.


Step 1: Compose yourself before entering the toddler’s room. If you go in expecting a fight, there will be a fight.

Step 2: Resolve that there will not be a fight.

Step 3: Greet the toddler with a friendly and casual demeanor—remember, she can smell fear.

Step 4: After removing the little one from her crib, prepare to dress her in the clothes she “helped” you pick out the night before.

Step 5: Stand your ground when she refuses to wear the clothes. Ignore signs that a tantrum is imminent.

Step 6: Ask her nicely, but firmly to wear the clothes. Remind her that she chose these clothes. Realize she does not care about the protocol that exists in the adult world about wearing the clothes you picked out the previous night.

Step 7: Prepare for a full-on tantrum.

Step 8: Realize you’re running late.

Step 9: Attempt to restrain a kicking and screaming toddler with one hand while pulling on her pants with the other.

Step 10: Get kicked in the face.

Step 11: Retreat.

Step 12: Reason with yourself that toddlers like choices. If you give the toddler a choice, she’ll feel empowered to make a decision.

Step 13: Attempt to silence the voice inside your head that laughing hysterically at likelihood of Step 12.

Step 14: Pick two perfectly acceptable shirts and let her decide which once she wants to wear.

Step 15: Breath deeply when she refuses both options.

Step 16: Go through the toddler’s entire wardrobe attempting to get her to pick something.

Step 17: Breath deeply when she refuses all options.

Step 18: Stare hopelessly at the pile of clothes you’ll have to clean up later.

Step 19: Ask the toddler what she wants to wear.

Step 20: Attempt to not lose it when she responds, “Wanna watch Caillou.”

Step 21: Remind yourself that you’re the adult, and the toddler is going to do what you say.

Step 22: Laugh/cry when you realize how insane this sounds.

Step 23: Ask again: What do you want to wear today?

Step 24: Breath deeply when she points to the Minnie Mouse t-shirt and penguin pajama pants that she slept in. Restrain yourself when she indicates that she wants to wear an Elsa tank top over this getup.

Step 25: Retreat. Regroup. Prepare for war.

Step 26: Beg her to wear something that she hasn’t slept in for three nights instead.

Step 27: Accept that the toddler isn’t going to budge.

Step 28: Admit defeat.

Step 29: Allow her to go to daycare/a playdate/music class/the zoo in her pajamas… again… this week.

Step 30: Pray that she’ll agree to put on shoes.

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