Dressing Kids by Danielle Delorenzo, Occupational Therapist

Let’s talk about dressing! As an OT mama, I wanted my kid to be as independent as possible with all their activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).  What are those you ask!?! 

Some examples of ADLs are dressing, bathing, grooming, and toileting. Some examples of IADLs are finance management, cooking, meal prep, and medical management.  The goal is to support using a client centered focus and foundation, enriched with the individuals meaningful occupations, to support independence and participation in their ADLs and IADLs. 

I wanted to make sure dressing was super fun Day 1 for my little one.

Yes I know, Day 1, how could they even begin to know anything about dressing.  Let’s think about it!

I swaddled him in a soft blanket and saw how he responded to the specific material I chose for him.

I also had other fabrics available to ensure that I had a material that matched his sensory needs.  This is how as a parent you can begin to be mindful about dressing from Day 1 with your little ones.

The tactile system’s interpretation of how clothing and other materials feel on the body can be either a positive or negative response based on what your child is feeling indicated through body language, vocalizations, and self regulatory responses.

Things to consider when supporting kiddos independence with dressing

  • Consider your child’s sensory needs
  • Honor and respect your child’s communication and emotions during the entire process
  • Daily Practice
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Mirror and video modeling
  • Demonstration
  • Repetition 
  • Have them pick out their own outfit
  • Be consistent, daily
  • Be silly and creative
  • And most importantly, have fun!

The research shows and through my own experiences as a parent and practitioner, that engagement in meaningful and daily occupations supports your overall well being in a positive way.  

You can start embedding dressing concepts and opportunities into your daily routines wherever you are along your parenting and dressing journey with your child. 

Try incorporating dressing opportunities into your day utilizing moments of time that just flow with your routine, allowing your child to grow at their own pace with their independent dressing skills. This will support so many foundational skills necessary for independence with dressing and so many other A/IDLs.

Get more tips from Danielle on instagram!