Dressing a toddler: the trials and tribulations


A bit of a dramatic headline, but until you have a toddler you don’t realise just how difficult it can be to dress them.

Granted I still tend to treat Miss Willow like a living doll. I dress her up in cute outfits and she really seems to enjoy looking cute and being admired. However, now she is little person who is developing her own sense of style and is a wriggly little worm when it comes time to get dressed. This has forced a change in our getting dressed strategy.

Here are a few tips and tricks I have found very handy over the past few months. A few are more for me to get into the habit of them, but they seem to make Willow happy so we’re keeping them. I hope there is something here you can apply as well.


Controlled choices: I have designed Willow’s entire wardrobe so it will mix and match. This way everything looks good together. In the morning, I offer a choice between two tops and two bottoms. She always makes a choice and gets a kick out of being let in on the process. I have also found she is quieter and more cooperative on these days. I can send her out into the world knowing she is comfy and looks cute and she got to have a say over her outfit. Win-win. (I have been told this trick is especially effective with toddlers and preschoolers so we’re practicing.)

Pure joy

Cheap and cheerful: Do you know what’s worse than being upset to see a pair of pants or a top that was quite pricey come to ruin? Knowing that your toddler’s play and learning is affected by you putting her into expensive clothes and expecting her to stay clean. In our house dirty clothes are the sign of a good day. I buy affordable clothes that Willow can play in with neither of us worrying about ruined clothing. If she’s having fun I’m all good. That said there are clothing brands that wash up incredibly well: H&M, Woolworths, Pick n Pay and Ackermans seem to survive a lot!

New shoes

Velcro, zips and slip on’s! Baby shoes are adorable no doubt about it. But I prefer Willow to go barefoot most of the time. When she does have to wear shoes (when it’s hot, cold or she’s walking on rough surfaces) I put her into footwear that is easy to get on and off. She has three pairs of shoes for this season: A pair of Shoo Shoos moccasins (These are a must have! They stay on no matter what, give the baby a barefoot experience, are non-slip and come in such cute designs), a pair of sketchers with a soft leather sole and Velcro straps (again these stay on, are comfy, non-slip and are easy on and easy off) and a pair of Bobux toddler shoes with a rubber sole her gran brought from Australia (these are supposed to also have the same effect as walking barefoot and have technology to prevent tripping).


Shop the sales: Keeping seasons in mind I shop the sales when it comes to the pricier stores. We love Naartjie and Earth Child. So when then the seasonal sales come around I buy a few things here and there. I always go one year up in size. These go in a labelled box in her cupboard until they fit. When it comes time to plan her next season’s wardrobe I go through the box, identify what we still need and then buy from the cheaper stores. I also take advantage of loyalty programmes such as H&M’s Close the Loop and Naartjie’s back to Naartjie.

Easter Hat

Some clothing does not belong on a baby: This was a hard lesson to learn. Willow looks adorable in little hoodies and jeans with her sneakers on. My heart literally explodes! But I notice that she doesn’t play the same way and nappy changes are hard! She operates best in stretchy leggings, soft tracksuit bottoms, and longer length tees. So that’s what she wears. Kids learn through play. (Another thing that makes life hard? No poppers on rompers and playsuits. This is something I’ve noticed more and more in the shops and it’s annoying!)

Heart tshirt - Woolworths

Heart tshirt – Woolworths

Happy tshirt - Woolworths

Happy tshirt – Woolworths

Multipacks! A lot of stores do them and they are awesome! First off you will always get a coordinated look – these tops go with those pants done! Secondly, they work out much cheaper – two pants for R99 or one pair of pants for R150 is a no brainer. You get awesome multipacks at Ackermans, H&M, Mr Price and Woolworths.

How I feel after the weekend!

How I feel after the weekend!

Pajamas matter: My last point is on pajamas. Willow always sleeps in a sleep sack with soft pajamas on (a light sack with shorts and a tee in summer and a heavier sack and long pajamas in winter). I find that onesies tend to makes the best PJs. They keep her back covered so I don’t worry about her being cold at night. Also, there is no creeping or twisting and they are soft so baby is comfy all night long. In our experience, the best ones are from Bonds, but the ones from H&M look good too (although I haven’t tried them out). For traditional PJs we love Cotton On.


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