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The Montessori Toddler - Getting Dressed at 18 months

How we Montessori toddler wardrobe  dressing space at 17 months

Otto is almost 18 months old and it feels like a good time to revisit some of our Montessori home spaces. I'll explain how they work and how we troubleshoot. Our spaces are fluid, always changing. I hope these posts will give you a few ideas for your home environment.

At almost eighteen months Otto can:

  • Put on/take off socks independently - only loose socks, not socks that are tight. Wool socks are great. 
  • Put on/take off boots independently - only his rain boots and not always on the right feet. He can also take them off. 
  • Put on/take off hat independently - but will wear it covering his eyes/all crooked until I fit it. 
  • Pull tops/tshirts/jumpers over his head - then I will hold the shirt arms out while he puts his arms through, and he likes to pull them down. When undressing I will help with the arms and he will take it off over his head. 
  • Pull up his pants - once I have helped him to step in or put his feet through the opening. Most of his pants he can take off himself.
  • Take clothes off the hangers and he can take the hangers off the wardrobe - but he cannot put them back on.

We are constantly troubleshooting and adapting his environment. This is why observation is important, we can reduce barriers when they arise. 

  • His training pants are getting a little tight and he needs some help pulling these up/taking them off. It's time to size up training pants. 
  • Otto will pull all of his shirts off their hangers and throw them on the floor. A reminder to only put out limited options, 2-3 shirts only. 
  • Otto had difficulty putting on socks and shoes without falling over, so we put in place a lower chair to sit on for support. The previous cube chair we had in this spot was too high. 

Montessori toddler dressing  wardrobe care of self 18 months #2

If you are just getting started here are my tips!

  • Ensure clothes are easily accessible. Use low shelves and low hangers. Baskets and low drawers can be useful.
  • Allow access to a reasonable amount of clothing, not too many. It's unreasonable to expect a child to maintain order when there are excess clothes.
  • Leave the child plenty of time to get dressed, don't rush. The child will lose confidence if rushed or if you take over the dressing while they are in progress. I leave at least 10 minutes for Otto to get ready and he might use most of this time putting on his socks. 
  • Encourage independence. I try to help Otto only as much as he needs. I allow him to do as much himself as he is able. 
  • Give child-friendly options and set the child up for success.  Buttons and zippers are often too difficult for a toddler, elastic waists are excellent.
  • Only present reasonable options (don't put out clothes you don't want them to wear) and increase the options as the child gets older.
  • If the child dresses unreasonably suggest a jumper/warmer clothing, take them outside and if necessary pack a jumper/warmer clothing if going out. Otto is a little too young to understand natural consequences so I always ensure we take warmer clothing with us. 
  • Have the child put their dirty laundry in the laundry hamper when they take their clothes off.
  • Ask the child to put away their clean clothing. Toddlers seem to love this and it helps them to know where their clothes go and have authority and ownership over their own space/room. 
  • As the child gets older have them put out their laundry on wash day and allow them to assist in washing/hanging/pegging and putting away their own clothes. 
  • Hang a mirror at the child's level. We have a mirror on the back of Otto's bedroom door, it allows the child to observe themselves and their clothing. 

How we Montessori toddler wardrobe  dressing space at 17 months

Encouraging the child to dress themselves is worth it in the end. It may take longer initially but the more they do it the quicker they will become. Self-dressing encourages the child to take care of their own clothing and develop coordination, concentration and, independence. It increases body awareness and sense of self. It's also important to observe the child, read their body language, we don't want to push or force self dressing when the child isn't ready.
If you are looking for wardrobe options you might like the previous posts:
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