Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Other Advice

Which type of reins should I get for my daughter of 18 mths who likes to walk?

My 18-month-old daughter has not been walking for long, but likes to do so at every opportunity. We live in a city, so the streets are busy, and she dislikes holding a hand or the buggy. Our Nanny and I want to encourage her to walk, but daily trips to the shops take a long time and are becoming difficult, as she will wander off. I have looked at reins and wrist straps, but which would be the most suitable for her age? Wrist straps seem to be less restricting, but is she too young for them?

Using some method to keep your daughter close to you in busy streets is a good idea, especially at this age when toddlers will walk in any direction and be unaware of hazards. While wrist straps may look more flexible than reins, they are more suited to children over the age of two and a half. Children of that age are more likely to close by and a wrist strap keeps adult and child together. If used with younger toddlers, problems may arise from their “random” walking. If a small toddler attached to a strap takes off in a busy street, another pedestrian may walk between you and your child, unaware of the strap, and trip over it. This will also cause your child to fall. Similarly, if your toddler dislikes holding your hand, she may walk to the other side of a bollard or obstacle and again be jerked off her feet.

A harness with reins attached is a better option, as your daughter will be slightly in front of you, increasing your awareness of what is happening. Also, there is no space between the two of you for others to move into. Reins, when properly adjusted, can prevent tumbles as you can pull her back up should she trip. If she suddenly sits down, a common occurrence, you will be able to get her up and going again easily. When paying for goods in shops, or otherwise distracted, the reins will also prevent your daughter from wandering off.

It is wonderful that you and your Nanny are encouraging your daughter to walk, as many toddlers spend too much time in buggies just for the mother’s peace of mind and ease. Try to balance outings that involve a lot of street walking, with trips to more child-friendly places where she can walk and run freely. Begin to teach her to hold your hand or the buggy when crossing roads, even although she is on reins. It is never too early to begin to teach good habits about stopping and looking before crossing, and waiting for the green light at crossings. There may be some initial protest, but consistency will help enforce good habits.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Other Advice

What steps should we take to make our garden safe for our 19 mth old daughter?

We would love our 19-month-old daughter, Anna, to spend as much time outdoors as possible, but wonder what we should do to make the garden safe for her. Our back door from the kitchen links to a small patio, beyond which is grass, flower borders and a couple of apple trees. My husband enjoys DIY and would like to build a swing and sandbox at the far end of the garden, but I can’t think how much time she will spend there unless I am out with her too. How old does she need to be before I can let her out on her own?

It is lovely to have a garden for children to play in, but you are quite right about supervision at this age. The hidden dangers a garden pose mean that your daughter should not be left unsupervised until she is three. A way around this problem would be to fence off a small part of the patio, and perhaps a patch of grass, around the back door area. Make sure that the fencing is constructed of vertical slats, rather than horizontal, to prevent climbing. If a section of the flower border is included, check that none of the plants are poisonous. Plants with colourful berries will attract her, so it would be better to move any such plants to another area of the garden. Colour can always be introduced with hanging baskets that are well out of reach.

Let Anna play in this safe area while you are working in the kitchen, but keep a watchful eye on her and don’t be tempted to run upstairs even for a minute. Provide her with a small ride-on and maybe a dolls’ pram or buggy, so she can begin to amuse herself for short periods of time. This summer, while the swing and sandbox are being constructed, provide Anna with a small sandpit on the patio (made from plastic with a lid) so you can watch her playing. Having a sandpit on the patio, rather than surrounded by grass, makes for much easier cleaning up. Check the sand daily and always cover at night to prevent it being used by cats and other animals. Finally, make sure there is time in the day for you to enjoy your garden too!

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Other Advice

My 19 mth daughter will not take milk from a beaker, only a bottle.

My daughter will not take milk from a beaker but will take water from a beaker (she doesn’t have juice).

She is 20 months old and weighs 11 kilos. She has 3 regular meals a day, plus healthy snacks and has been having 7oz milk from a bottle in the morning and evening in a bottle with a teat. As she was born small for a full term baby at 5lb she always drank a lot of milk in the early days. We began breast feeding and then started bottle feeding at 6 weeks old.

I am very conscious from reading Gina’s books that she shouldn’t be having a teat but am having trouble weaning her off it. She doesn’t have a dummy and I am sure she likes the comfort of teat. She wants her milk but as soon as she sees the spout she refuses it or spits the milk on the floor. I desperately need some tips as I’m really worried about her not having any milk at all.

She will not have milk on cereal either as she will only eat it dry. She already has yoghurts and custard in her diet, plus cheese. She sleeps well from 7.30pm-7.30/8am and eats a wide variety of food. Is it better for her to have the minimum requirement of milk in a bottle or not at all and try and make it up with other food?

I’d prefer her to have milk if possible. I tried tonight with a beaker spout again and tried giving it to teddy and myself but my daughter wasn’t having any of it and went to sleep with no milk. Should I persevere or will she give it up herself in time? I also tried a normal cup and a sports flask. Again she will take water but not milk.

She sleeps for 2 hours between 12.30-2.30pm and dropped her afternoon milk a long time ago. The night-time routine is bath, then milk downstairs in a bottle and a story. She has a sleeping bag and she settles herself to sleep and doesn’t wake during the night usually unless she is ill.
Many thanks
Helen

Getting a child to drink milk from a cup at this age can take a long time. I think the comfort of a teat is probably of more interest than the milk itself. As a nanny I encountered the problem when I removed the evening bottle and replaced it with a cup. The little girl never drank milk again, unless disguised as a shake or smoothie. Because I was conscious of her loss I made sure, as you are, that she had plenty of dairy products in her diet. I suggest that you keep trying. At this age I would persevere with using an open cup. There is one on the market, a “Doidy” cup which is slanted enabling a small child to drink small amounts herself without having to tip her head right back. You may have been given a child’s china mug, possibly with two handles which could be used now. Fill with a small amount of milk and encourage her to be a “big girl”. Tell her she can drink from a mug like Mummy and Daddy. Keep trying in the morning, when you know she will be hungry. If she won’t try it, remove it without question and offer her water if you feel she is thirsty. Try making her a fruit smoothie at breakfast. Banana, natural yoghurt, milk and orange juice can be blended together to form a drink which can be given in a cup. Many cookbooks for small children include recipes for delicious combinations. Your daughter maybe tempted by a novel approach. Serve her milk and yoghurt-based drinks in decorated small plastic beakers which are usually sold as patio or beach items. It would seem from her diet that she is receiving plenty of calcium in other forms. The daily minimum amount of milk recommended for your daughter’s age is 350mls (12ozs). It would be preferable if she had up to 500mls (17ozs). But this daily total can include other dairy products. 210mls (7oz) of milk can be substituted with one pot of yoghurt 125g (4.5ozs) or 30g (1oz) cheese. If she begins to accept milk “hidden” in shakes and smoothies and continues with her varied diet she is easily going to have her daily requirements. It may take a little more thought and preparation but in the long term will benefit your daughter. Getting her weaned from her bottle is your main priority.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

How do I persuade my 20-month-old son to wear sunscreen and a hat?

I have a problem that I want to solve before we go off to Spain in July. Last summer when it was hot and sunny I managed to apply sunscreen to my little boy and also found a hat that stayed on. He was, however, only 9/10 months at the time and very easygoing. This year it is a different story as he is 20 months with a mind of his own.

Last week we were preparing to go to the park, but he refused to wear his sunhat. As it was warm, I started to apply sunscreen to his arms and legs, but he wriggled away and I doubt I got much on. I have tried to explain to Greg why he needs these things, but he won’t listen. Here, the sun is not yet at its full strength, but I am worrying about Spain. It won’t be much of a holiday if we have a daily battle before heading to the beach or pool.

Toddlers of Greg’s age don’t understand the reasons for wearing a hat and sunscreen. But Greg is old enough to understand the simple rule, “No hat, no outing.” You must begin to teach him that when it is sunny and you say he must wear a hat and sunscreen, then he must. If he won’t cooperate, you may have to miss a few outings to the park, but he will learn that there is a consequence to not doing as you ask. If all goes well, by the time you get to Spain he will accept that putting on a hat and sunscreen is a normal part of getting ready to go out.

It may help if you let him assist with rubbing in sunscreen and deciding where the next bit should go. Make a silly game out of it and let him choose whether you start with his legs or his arms. Also let him watch as you apply sunscreen to yourself. You may find that spray sunscreens make the task a little easier.

Finding hats for boys is not easy. Look for one with a wide brim all round or a “Legionnaire” style with a wide peak and back flap to protect the neck; this latter style probably gives the best all round protection. Look together in mail order catalogues, where pictures of other little boys wearing hats may help. If you can, buy a second hat in a style he seems to like the look of. You can then offer him a choice when going out. The exposure of a young child’s skin to the sun does pose a risk, even in the UK. Wearing a hat and sunscreen should, therefore, become part of your son’s daily routine in the summer. Remember also to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, reapply sunscreen frequently, make sure that Greg’s fluid intake is kept up and, when on the beach or by the pool, keep most of his skin covered with loose shorts and t-shirts, or choose clothing specially designed to offer UV protection.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Entertaining and Educating your Toddler

How do I prepare my daughter of 23mths for an overnight hospital stay?

My daughter, who is 23 months old, needs to go into hospital overnight for a small operation. I am able to stay with her all the time, but I was wondering how I might prepare her for this experience.

At this age, your daughter will have no concept of what a hospital is, unless she has been there before as an outpatient. The most important thing is not to let any of your anxieties pass to your daughter; toddlers are perceptive and can pick up tensions in adults.

Explain to your daughter in simple terms that you will be going together to the hospital. Tell her that in a hospital there are doctors and nurses who help people to get better. If you daughter has had painful symptoms from her condition, tell her that the doctor will make it better again. Explain to her that you will both sleep in the hospital and that other children will be there too.

Begin to prepare her about two weeks in advance by simply talking about the visit. Toddlers have a limited concept of time, but getting her used to the idea is what you are aiming for initially. If you can manage a visit to the ward beforehand, this can be helpful. If possible, show her the playroom, the toys and an empty bed or cot. Point out hospital staff, so she is familiar with people in uniform.

If an advance visit is not practical, look in your local library or bookshop for simple stories about hospital stays. There is no need to push the idea too much, but rather make these books part of her daily story session. Using toys to play hospitals is another good way to introduce the idea. You might choose to buy a child’s medical set, which contains items she may encounter, such as a stethoscope or thermometer. Play with her teddies or dolls and show her how these pieces of equipment work. The hope is that, once she is in hospital, the real equipment won’t seem so strange and can be a talking point while your daughter is examined.

The day before your stay, pack a case and let your daughter help; you may have been given a list from the ward. Tell her where you are going the next day. Most toddlers do understand phrases like, “After your next big sleep we are going to the hospital.” Let her see you pack your nightclothes and toothbrush so she is reassured that you will be staying. Put in one or two familiar toys, her favourite pyjamas and maybe a new pair of slippers she has helped choose. Also pack some books, a pad for drawing and some crayons, but don’t include any noisy toys or those with small pieces. Depending on the procedure and anaesthetic, your daughter may have to fast beforehand, but take her favourite drinking beaker and some healthy snacks for when she can eat and drink again. A fun straw will encourage her to drink. Hospitals are usually very warm and it is easy to get dehydrated.

Once your daughter has been admitted, make her cot welcoming with her toys. Get to know the nurse’s names and talk to them about the coming day. Many wards will assign a specific nurse to you for each shift. If you are in an area with other patients, introduce yourselves to them and their relatives. The more your daughter sees that you are at ease in the ward, the less likely she is to become apprehensive about the experience. Put on a happy face and keep talking about all the new things you can see. If you do have concerns or questions, try to engage her in some play activity before speaking to a member of staff.

Stay beside your toddler and offer reassurance when she is prepared for surgery. Even if she appears sleepy, stay close to her bed. Once the operation is over and she is back on the ward, help the nurses by keeping an eye on her and voice any concerns you may have. If you have prepared yourself for your daughter’s operation, you will know what to expect.

Once you are home, try to return to a normal routine as soon as possible. If your daughter is a bit clingy or quiet for a day or two, make plenty of time for one to one time with stories and cuddles. At this age most toddlers cannot express their feelings, but with an understanding adult close to them throughout the experience, they bounce back very quickly. Good luck.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Tantrums

My 20-month-old doesn’t want a haircut.

I have just spent the most embarrassing morning trying to get Harry’s hair cut. At 20 months, I felt he needed to have his hair cut in a “big boy” style, but Harry had different ideas. He refused to co-operate, wouldn’t sit in the chair and ended up having a tantrum on the floor of the shop. I abandoned the idea, apologised and crept out. How will I ever get him to co-operate enough to try again?

Put yourself in your child’s shoes when it comes to the hairdressers – you may never have been there before, it’s a new experience and you would like to explore. But instead you are swept on to a high chair, tied into a large gown – and you cannot even see your hands. Looking in the mirror, you see a stranger with a pair of scissors, advancing towards your head! No wonder many first trips to the hairdressers end in tears.

Now that Harry has had one bad experience, you will need to build his confidence before attempting another visit. As you have already trimmed his hair, keep doing this for a month or two, but tell him when you are doing it, rather than snipping when he is distracted. By all means continue to trim while he is in the bath, but let him watch in a mirror. We teach children that scissors are dangerous and sharp, but this is where a lot of fear comes from as they think having their hair cut will hurt. Little children do not understand that hair grows back. If you can understand Harry’s fears, then you will think of ways to overcome them. Cut off a small piece of your own hair and let him feel it, or find a picture of yourself with longer or shorter hair, so he begins to understand that hair grows again.

Playing pretend barbershops can help, but a better idea would be a trip to watch you or his father have a haircut. In this way, he will be more familiar with the procedure. If you are anxious that Harry may not remain content during your appointment, then bring someone with you who could take him off once he has seen that haircutting doesn’t hurt.

Try also to find a hairdresser that is child-friendly. Discuss your concerns with them and schedule your appointment for a time when Harry will be neither tired nor hungry. Arrive in plenty of time so he can look at customers and equipment and talk about what you see. If Harry is still apprehensive, ask if they are willing for him to be on your lap, and wear a smock yourself. Get his hands out from under the smock as soon as it is on and give him a small toy to hold in each hand. When packing toys for the visit, don’t bring soft toys, as it will be hard to get hair off them.

If you can, plan a small treat for after the visit and tell him. ” We are going to the park/café/toy shop, but first we have to stop and get your hair cut”. Having something to look forward to should help. Dress him in old clothes for his haircut, a t-shirt is ideal, and put a clean one in your bag so he can change at the end; hair can be very itchy on the neck, so removing the old t-shirt will make him feel more comfortable. Baby powder can also make the removal of loose hair easier, so bring some with you if you wish. Finally, praise Harry for being co-operative during his haircut and, in time, visiting the hairdresser may become an enjoyable outing for both of you.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Behaviour

My son of 22 mths constantly wants attention all afternoon.

Despite eating a good lunch and having a solid nap afterwards I find my 22-month-old son’s behaviour every afternoon very wearing.

Didier also has a twin brother and a sister who is 3.5 years old, so life is quite busy for me. Didier is a very active, and entertaining little boy. He is also very sensitive, sweet and caring to his brother and sister. He is quite hilarious, wearing silly hats, jumping around and putting on funny voices to make everyone laugh. The flip-side to his character is that he is very demanding, and voices his discontent (about anything in particular) in an extremely loud way.

Every day he eats a good lunch (12:30-1pm) as he likes his food on the whole. A typical lunch would be 4tbsp chicken casserole or fish pie, 1 small potato and 1-2 tbsp green vegetables. He then settles down (with a bit of fuss) for his nap. I wake him after 1.5 hrs as he was beginning to be difficult to settle in the evenings. I always let him wake up naturally but as soon as he is awake he is cranky and demanding snacks. He loves bread sticks and rice cakes and would happily eat them all afternoon if I let him. He spends most of the afternoon shouting “STICK!”, “RICE!” over and over again. I try to divert his attention and this sometimes works for a while, but then he is screaming, clinging and whining for more “sticks” and “rice” until teatime. He normally eats a good amount at tea so his snacking doesn’t seem to be spoiling his appetite. I try to limit his snacks, and even ignore him, but I am not sure what method to use. I am not certain whether he is: either really hungry and therefore may need something a little more substantial as snack, or does he have a behavioural problem? Dealing with two other small children as well, means he cannot have my attention all the time.

Dealing with three young children such as yours can feel like a never ending demand for attention. As all children have different temperaments and characters some will always be more demanding than others, but in a family they need to learn they cannot always have your time and attention.
To work out what is Didier’s problem try two things: when he wakes up after his lunchtime nap and asks for a snack, show him that you have put them where he can freely help himself. As he usually eats his tea well, try not to become concerned about his appetite being ruined. Let him have as many bread sticks and rice cakes as he likes. These snacks are not unhealthy so don’t worry too much right now about him eating too many. If he helps himself throughout the afternoon but his demand for attention disappears, you will know that it is hunger causing this behaviour. Rather than introducing a bigger or more substantial snack, increase the amount of protein that you give Didier for lunch. This should have the effect of him not feeling so hungry as soon as he wakes up.

Should his rather demanding behaviour for attention still continue, you will know that you have to find ways of helping him to share you with his siblings. Get them all involved in an activity such as cooking or sticking. Use one large bowl for mixing up some cookie dough. Let each child have a specific task; one adds the flour, one the sugar, one the butter, so they are all equally involved in the process. A joint sticking activity, could be work on a collage-type picture all together. Point out what fun it is when you all work together on something and how each child is needed to complete the project.

It is never easy to give each child individual time, especially when they are closely spaced or twins but whenever possible, try for a short time each day, enlisting the help of your husband if possible.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Behaviour

My 21mth son has started to need his comforter with him at all times.

My 21 month old son has become increasingly attached to his Winnie Pooh comforter. He continuously sucks the hands of the Winnie – even playing with it hanging out of his mouth. It was restricted to bed times only but the last few weeks he demands it through the day. I have tried to resist but he can cry longer than I can be strong. As he wants to suck it through meals it can be very stressful withholding it and still getting him to have enough food.
I can not pinpoint any emotional upset to link this increased need too to have his comforter so much.

Can you help? Even though I have several of these Winnies they get very smelly and I am a little embarrassed when we go out as he has a soggy flat Winnie pooh hanging out of his mouth.

It is also making his speech very difficult to understand and he has been doing really well increasing his vocabulary. This is discouraging and frustrating us both.
Please can you help?

Comforters and transitional objects are needed by many toddlers but you have realized that you will have to tread carefully in trying to reduce the amount of time Winnie accompanies your son. It is necessary for you to have some limits as to when he may have Winnie and you will need to stick with these, despite the inevitable tears. The best way to do this is to take it step by step.

Begin with meal times as this is obviously a situation which has got out of hand. If he is sucking the toy and eating at the same time it will become a breeding ground for bacteria due to bits of food being left on it. Find somewhere in full view of your son where he can leave Winnie who will watch him eat his meal. Make a ritual out of leaving Winnie in his special place before you begin each meal. Even if it means that for a few days your son does not eat so well you do need to ride this out. Use Winnie to encourage him to eat and praise him when he does. Use phrases such as, “One spoon for Mummy, one for Daddy and one for Winnie”.

Find activities which will fully engross your son. Play dough, water and sand play are all tactile and soothing occupations to use with him. Again, state that Winnie must watch him from a safe place but use conversation to include Winnie whilst you roll out dough or play with sand and water. To provide the last two activities use a washing up bowl placed on a waterproof cover on the floor. Dress your son appropriately and join in his play from time to time. Sand suitable for children to use can be bought in good toy shops. To begin with, he may only be happy to play for a short spell before needing his comforter again. Make it clear to him that once he has decided to stop playing with the water, sand or dough because he wants his comforter you will clear away the activity. By encouraging him to be busy in his play you will find your son will be able to go for longer spells without needing Winnie so close to him.

When you are out begin to use the buggy as a “safe” place for Winnie to watch him when he is at the swings or with friends. It easy to be embarrassed about this habit when you are out but don’t let your son see this. One thing you must not do is to laugh at or ridicule his attachment to his comforter. By acknowledging his need for Winnie, but giving him limits when he can have him to suck, will help your son feel more secure and more willing to gradually not need the comforter so much.

Wash the comforters as often as possible because some toddlers do become attached to the smell of them more than anything. By some of the smell being eliminated he may well not be so interested in having Winnie in his mouth all the time.

Now that your son is beginning to talk use fun ways to get him to communicate with you. Sing lots of action songs and nursery rhymes. If there are some he knows well begin to leave out the last word of each line to encourage him to join in. At these times insist that Winnie watches and listens to your son. Use musical instruments to encourage him to be busy with his hands as well as his voice.

If your toddler is feeling a little unsure of himself he will need plenty of hugs and cuddle times to give him a sense of security. Tell him often how much you love him. Spend short times throughout the day looking at books or singing action rhymes which should help him be less likely to want his comforter all the time.

Once you have begun to eliminate the comforter from certain times of the day you can begin to work on keeping its use restricted to bedtime and nap times. It may take a while before your son is willing to leave Winnie upstairs in his cot but find a place for Winnie to stay during the day and gradually work towards Winnie’s place becoming nearer to the stairs, then upstairs. Finally, Winnie should be tucked into your son’s cot when he gets up in the morning or from naps. If you make a little ritual out of this it will be easier for him to leave Winnie behind.

Although you are not aware of any emotional upset to have triggered this obsession make sure you are not putting too much pressure on your son to be more independent or to achieve too much in any area of his life. He may be using the comforter as a way of expressing his need to have the pressure taken off him. Having sensible restrictions on your son’s use of Winnie, and keeping him busy with plenty of different activities in the day, will help him need his comforter less and be happier about using it only for sleep time and naps.

If you remain concerned about the amount of time your son seems to need his comforter discuss the problem with your health visitor or doctor.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Behaviour

Over the past few weeks it has become a daily battle to get my 20-month-old daughter out of the bath. We have resorted to just lifting her out and getting her dried and dressed as quickly as we can, over the screams and kicking. We have tried to reason with her, telling her that story time is coming next, but nothing seems to work. Have you any ideas on how to make this time of day more pleasurable?

Toddlers of this age live in the present with little concept of the future. Although story time is probably enjoyed by her once she is dressed and calmed down, while she is playing in the bath, she is not yet able to anticipate how good it will feel to be snuggled up with you and enjoying a story.

Begin to give her some warnings that bath-time is ending. About five minutes before you want her to get out, tell her that she will be getting out in “five minutes”. She has no concept of time as yet, but she will learn to associate “five minutes”, “three minutes” and “one minute” with what happens next. Use the same short sentences each day so they become familiar to her. Ask her to finish her game and to hand you the toys and make a game of putting them away until tomorrow. Tell her it is time for the water to go and give her the option of pulling out the plug herself and saying “bye, bye bath”. But if she hesitates or refuses to do this and continues to play, then say gently but firmly, “I’m sorry, but it is time to get out now”.

Giving your daughter a chance to participate in ending her bath-time may help her, rather than just announcing that it is time to get out and removing her straight away. She will learn the sequence is always the same, which appeals to a toddler’s love of routine. Some toddlers like to remain in the bath until all the water has drained away. Providing your bathroom is warm enough that she won’t become chilled, you could let her do this if she wants to. To prevent her from slipping in the bath, make it clear that she must remain sitting until all the water has gone and then help her out.

If she begins to understand when the end of bath-time is coming, it should make getting her dried and dressed a lot easier as she will not be so cross. Get her involved by asking her to hold out her legs and arms so her nightclothes can be put on. If she wants to try dressing herself, then let her have a go, even though it may take longer. While drying and dressing her, talk about the books you are going to enjoy together or remind her of the fun you had earlier in the day. Some parents like to sing the same song each night to help their child get ready for bed. You can make up words such as “This is the way we get ready for bed” and sing it to a familiar tune.

Scenes at bath-time are not uncommon at this age, as your toddler will be tired after a busy day. Setting a routine in place will help to make the transition from playing in the bath to getting ready for bed easier, as your daughter will learn to anticipate what is going to happen next. Keeping things calm and peaceful should help her to settle and make the time enjoyable for you both.

Development FAQ: 18-24 months – Learning

My daughter of 23 months is very headstrong and determined to do things her way.  Every morning she wants to get dressed all by herself, which I know should be encouraged, but she is not yet able to cope without some help. This usually ends in her getting very frustrated and having a tantrum as I finish getting her ready for the day.  How can I make getting dressed easier for her so she is able to manage it on her own?

Learning to dress herself and to manage simple tasks is essential to your daughter’s development.   Skills such as undressing, putting on shoes and clothes and brushing teeth are all to be encouraged.  But it can be frustrating for you both, and takes time and patience.

There are ways of minimising the frustration your daughter experiences when she is unable to get a garment on or off without help.  If you can, choose clothes that are easy for her to put on – skirts and trousers with elastic waistbands, roomy jumpers and t-shirts with wide necks are ideal.  Give her plenty of praise when she gets it right, and this should mean she is more likely to allow you to help her when she gets a little stuck.

Teach your daughter some of the tricks of getting dressed.  Laying out her clothes on the floor may help.  You could suggest that she puts her legs into her trousers whilst sitting down.  Help to acknowledge her bid for independence and leave her alone to get on the clothes with which she is able to cope.   If you know this is going to take some time, try to factor this into your morning routine.

If your daughter is not managing very well, try to avoid saying, “Shall I help you?” You could try to blame the clothes when you see she is struggling, “That silly shirt with all those buttons, it can’t work out where your head should be. Shall we try together to get this silly t shirt to find your head?”

  • Select clothes which are easy for her to put on
  • Allow plenty of time for her to get dressed
  • Give plenty of praise
  • Be patient

In Gina’s book “The Toddler Years”, you will find lots of advice and information about how a child learns to dress herself, and what you can expect of her to do at each stage.