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How to dress a toddler

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I tried to dress my toddler once. It ended in tears. I won’t admit who cried first, but I will tell you what I learned: When a toddler asks for help, they don’t actually want help.

I have two girls who are three years apart. You know those children in adorably coordinated outfits at daycare? They are not my girls. Twinning was never in our future. Although, the week we started potty training, my youngest did slip into her birthday suit and inspire her sister to do the same.

Having a nudist daughter meant I had less laundry to do—silver lining I guess.

We ran into trouble, though, whenever we needed to leave the house. Once, after she refused (again) to remove her PJs, I asked her to at least put on a pair of socks so we could go to the grocery store. I wasn’t specific enough; she snuck a pair of socks out of my drawer. For weeks, the only way I could get her out the house was if I allowed her to wear my mommy socks like leggings over her PJs.

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After a while, she grew tired of my socks and would roll down the back window of the car and toss them out, even my snuggly favorites — the ones best paired with coffee and a cozy blanket in the winter. My fault, I guess, for pushing the boundaries and asking her to get dressed.

You would think it gets better when a toddler actually agrees to put on clothes. Wrong.

You just find yourself locked in a bathroom with a desperate, screaming child who can’t get their clothes off to potty because they’ve somehow tangled themselves up in the combination of swimsuit, leotard, underwear and PJ pants that they insisted on wearing.

I’ve found some success with themed dresses and leggings so bright that a birthday suit seems like a better plan. My younger daughter’s Minnie Mouse and tiger costumes, both purchased as a joke, are her preferred attire.

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She alternates it with outfits that, in her opinion, match whatever her big sister wears but are never identical. And, because she changes her mind about how to match her sister, there are piles of clothing around the house.

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I’m not sure what’s worse—her diva-like outfit changes or her birthday suit with socks. The whole thing gives me cold feet (literally).

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