Many parents know the value of movement in a child’s learning. Children maximize all their senses when they encounter new things, so unlike us adults who rely mostly on our sight, children make use of their ears, hands, feet, nose, and mouth to really understand the world around them.
Based on observation though, what is often overlooked is what children wear.
Long dresses, stockings, tight jeans, tight button-down tops, tight fabrics, trendy shoes — the list is quite long in the category of clothes that hinder movement.
I once read a line while I was pregnant that stuck with me since: “You won’t go to the gym in a dress, would you?”
That line was so simple, yet in made a very big impact on how I ended up choosing clothes for my son.
Admittedly, when I first learned about my pregnancy and that I was having a boy, thoughts of all these “fashionable” wear came into mind, but as I learned more and realized that what I was about to support the growth of was an actual human and not my accessory, choosing clothes became a lot easier – because all I had to think was: “Would he be comfortable enough to move in this?”
I’ll share Simone Davies’ notes on Getting Dressed from her book The Montessori Toddler:
TYPE OF CLOTHING:
As our toddlers are trying to do everything themselves, look for easy clothing that they can manage themselves or with little assistance.
Good choices are:
* shorts and trousers with an elastic waist that they can pull up without having to undo a zipper and/or button
* t-shirts with large openings for their head
* shoes with velcro openings or buckles can be easier than laces; or slip-on shoes
* long dresses which can be difficult for toddlers to manage and restrict their movement
* overalls which are difficult for the child to put on independently
* skinny jeans or other tight and restrictive clothing
These are really good tips! Personally, I’ve used overalls on my son twice (it was a gift from my mom) only because it’s in one of his books (Dressing – Helen Oxenbury), so he gets excited to wear them. But generally, at home especially, I make sure that his clothes are good enough to make him move and even pass for gym wear! I don’t mean sporty attire, but comfortable and light!
May I add, as my son grew, while I truly love our button-based cloth diapers, it’s much harder to keep him in place while changing, and to be honest, that’s when I’ve truly become a fan of pull-up diapers!
With pull-up diapers, I can change him while standing, and he gets to practice pulling down his diaper (a precursor for actually using the toilet). I also try my best to look for bottoms with drawstrings that he can practice pulling down, instead of button-based shorts/pants.
We’ve never used knee-pads, because knees are also essential in learning their movements. We’ve also done without mittens and swaddles except for probably our son’s first few days on Earth, and we only use pants and socks when truly needed. Otherwise, he is always in a comfortable shirt and shorts (thankfully, we live in a tropical country so no need for winter gear), onesies, or just diapers!
I’ve had a real experience for this: while in our Canada trip last April, I brought size 6-12 months pants because they still fit him. He was already 1.5 years old then, but just like other breastfed babies (once they start moving), he is lean, so the pants still fit him perfectly on the waist (and the 12-18 months size are big on the waist), but since his height increases at a steady speed, that also meant his pants were kind of short on him already.
To cut the long story short, when we got to our hotel room, he tried going up the bed and was getting frustrated that he couldn’t do so. Before carrying him, I observed from afar and realized that his pants, while they fit him, are not the best fit anymore. They were totally hindering his movement. So I took them off and if you look at that photo above, that’s his little happy face because he was able to go up without any difficulty when I removed his pants. He walked straight to the pillow, hugged it, and smiled, as if saying “Whew! That was easy, after all!”
I made it my mission the next day to look for pants for him that would not hinder his movement – I find those types of pants with adjustable straps inside to be the most helpful.
So anyway, before we help our children when they’re having a challenging moment while moving, unless it is already dangerous, I highly suggest stepping back and observing how we can help them to help themselves. In our case, it was about removing his pants.
Another factor that is often overlooked is saggy diapers! Imagine your underwear full of liquid (and maybe even stool) — would you be able to move the same way? It’s probably uncomfortable at the very least, right? A saggy diaper can really affect your child’s movement, thus, may hinder the development of motor skills. You may read about it HERE.
Whether you are using cloth diapers or disposables, it’s always a good idea to check your child often to see if s/he needs changing. Personally, we use Pampers Baby-Dry and really love the new feature that used to be only part of the Pampers Premium: the magic gel channels! I have tested this myself but putting liquid on the diaper and see if the liquid will be absorbed evenly, and I’m happy to report that is passed our test and delivered as expected! You can worry less about having saggy diaper issues, because the liquid is spread evenly. You may read my review HERE.
I also love that it’s so thin so I can see that my son can really move comfortably in it. Plus, to be honest, it has good pricing in the Philippines. We ran out of the diapers I brought with us during our trip, so we also bought Pampers Baby-Dry abroad, and was shocked at the price difference, hehe!
Anyway, that’s it for now. If you’re wondering, we also use accessories when he’s into them – like hats, but it’s always up to his own terms — we have a basket full of hats and he can wear them as he pleases. We also make him choose what to wear pretty much everyday — so this is my final tip: to be able to give your child independence to choose what to wear without having to worry that they won’t match or look good, trust me, NEUTRALS and BASICS are your best friends! We always stock up on plain tops, plain shorts, a few printed ones, and only (2) pairs of shoes per size! As for shoes, when he was younger, we would only use those with really soft soles for him, and then now, since those types of shoes have run out of size for his age, we use brands that support healthy foot development.
Hope this blogpost was helpful!
“If we give children enough space and possibilities for free movement, they will move as beautifully and gracefully as animals: nimbly, simply, confidently, naturally.”
-Dr. Emmi Pikler
NOTE: This blogpost is published in partnership with Pampers Philippines but all thoughts and content are exclusively mine.