Help! My child hates wearing clothes

Whether fashion is your life, or you’ve just got an irrational hatred for playing fun games like “find the diaper” after your little one decides that what their skin needs is to be free, having a little nudist-in-training for a child can get old pretty fast. Unfortunately, young children with aversions to clothes are fairly common, and Baby’s intolerance of clothes could go on for months at a time.

Getting dressed with a dressing-averse child 

Like so many tasks involving toddlers, trying to get Baby dressed in their nude period is one of those disagreements that can lead to a power struggle if you’re not careful. Getting visibly frustrated – no matter how frustrating Baby may be acting – can backfire on you in the end. Instead, it can sometimes help to get Baby involved in the process of picking out what to wear, and then trying to distract them with a toy, a little song, or by asking them questions.

It’s often not as easy as that, though – toddlers with strong opinions can be tricky to distract – so some of your strategy for making sure Baby is dressed for the weather and reasonable enough for going out in public may have to be tailored to your little rebel’s particular habits. Some parents find that constant resistance is exhausting and doesn’t accomplish much, and end up letting their children run around free of everything but a diaper as long as they’re home, and pick their battles by only enforcing the need for clothes when they need to leave the house. Others may find that giving in to Baby’s call of the wild at some times but not others can open up lines of negotiation that are easier to keep closed, and that it’s better to just insist on clothes consistently.

If you’re taking a selective approach to keeping Baby dressed, some parents find that it’s easiest to plan ahead of time – way ahead – and get their children dressed for important, clothing-requiring events the night before, instead of putting them to bed in pajamas. Others find that slipping clothes on from, say, the back seat of the car at exactly the last minute, when Baby has already been driven to their destination (and has no time to rid themself of their clothes on the ride over) is the way to go.

Convincing your little one to stay clothed 

Sometimes, though, getting your little Houdini dressed is only the beginning – toddlers who hate clothes don’t always stop at just protesting wearing them. Sometimes they take matters into their own hands and slither out of what they’re wearing as soon as your back is turned – or even right in front of your face. Some clothes are easier to squirm out of than others, though, and once Baby starts making escape attempts from their adorable outfits, it may be time to break out the big guns, like tops that button in the back and won’t be easily stretched off, or onesies.

On the other hand, if you can convince Baby that the clothes they are wearing aren’t so bad, you may be able to stop the problem that way. Loose, soft, cotton clothes with no tags are a pretty safe bet for sensitive skin, and slightly oversized, breathable clothes may not seem as inconvenient to more active children who ditch their clothes because they want more room to roam.

Potential sensory sensitivity

Though in most cases, children’s aversion to clothes is a phase that passes with time, in some rare cases, children who are physically uncomfortable in their clothes can be displaying a sign of sensory sensitivity. Children with sensory sensitivity are often sensitive to other stimuli, like physical contact, temperature, texture in food, trouble sleeping, or altered developmental timelines.

  • “Understanding Temperament: Sensory Sensitivity.” The Center For Parenting Education. The Center For Parenting Education, 2006-2016. Web.
  • “Symptoms Checklist.” STAR Institute for Seonsory Processing Disorder. Star Center Foundation, 2016. Web.

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