We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You’ve somewhere to be at a certain time and all you need to do is to get your gorgeous little girl ready. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, think again. We all know how little ones have little minds of their own and, consequently, everyday care can be a battle of wills. With a little patience, a bit of toddler savvy and a lot of fun, however, you can sail through it all…
Getting them dressed
As one of my friends always says, ‘choose your battles!’ This means that you allow your child some freedom as regards choice of clothing, technically making it easier to get them dressed. What it also means (and my friend can certainly vouch for this) is that you may have to take your child to the supermarket dressed in a pink tutu and lime green tights!
The key to dressing a toddler without a running battle is to turn the task into a fun ritual instead of a chore. As you’re doing up poppers, for example, say ‘Pop, pop, pop’ as you put each one in. Your child will soon get the hang of the whole thing and join in.
The trick to getting your child dressed is basically to make them think that the whole thing is a joint, or team effort. Help her to get dressed by holding out sleeves or trouser legs at the right angle so that she can easily get her hand or foot in.
The task of nappy changing often starts off well. When baby is small, she likes nothing better than to lie quietly on a changing mat, waiting patiently for mummy to change her nappy. This simply lulls mum into a sense of false security. As soon as she’s able to move under her own volition she’s off – rolling away, or running off, as soon as you try to change her.
Getting teddy involved can often be a great way of getting a nappy changed. ‘Change’ teddy’s nappy at the same time and baby will love it. Only downside may be that she may want teddy’s nappy changed every time!
If your baby has done a poo, then a great way of keeping her hands out of it is to sing ‘If you’re happy and you know it….’. Baby will be so busy clapping her hands and singing that her hands will be well away from the mess.
One of the easiest ways to get your toddler to co-operate when it comes to getting her hair washed is to role-play. This involves pretending that you are both in a hair salon, with you obviously in the role of the hairdresser. Chat to your child about the shampoo that she uses and discuss various hairstyles.
Have a bit of fun by sculpting your child’s hair into a Mohican or a ‘horn’ hairstyle. Then let her look in the mirror so that you can both have a giggle.
If you have older children, pop them into the bath together and let them wash each other’s hair – under strict supervision, of course. This will make all of your children feel grown-up.
With all personal care tasks, involving your child in the task is paramount to ensuring a smooth ride. When it comes to teeth cleaning, give your child some responsibility by allowing her to choose her own toothbrush. The very fact that she has chosen her own toothbrush may encourage her even more to brush her little toodlepegs!
Toddlers love to copy mummy and daddy, so make sure she’s in the bathroom watching you as you brush your own teeth. Show her how it’s done and allow her to even help by brushing your teeth for you. Then swap roles and ask if you can clean hers for her. Make sure, of course, that you either use kiddy toothpaste for hers, or get her to spit the adult toothpaste out.
As with the nappy changing, using a soft toy to allow your child to demonstrate her personal care abilities will encourage her. Get her to brush teddy’s ‘teeth’ – minus the toothpaste, of course!
Trying to trim a small baby or child’s nails can be an absolute nightmare at times. It’s difficult enough trying to brush their hair or clean their teeth, but factor in a pair of scissors and you could end up with ‘Nightmare on Sesame Street – Sophie gets her nails cut’! The main thing to remember when you’re trying to cut your child’s nails is to try and not become stressed out if she wriggles away. Young children are full of energy and don’t want to miss out on anything – not even for a second.
Always trim the nail straight across and be very careful to not trim her nail too close to the skin. Talk to your child as you are cutting her nails or, if she’s not old enough to hold a conversation, give her a toy to play with in one hand, or put the TV on to take her attention.
If you absolutely dread this task and find your baby impossible to work with, do the sensible thing and trim them gently while she’s asleep!
For all personal care tasks the words of the song ‘On a frosty morning’ are excellent and may help to smooth the way:
‘This is the way we brush our hair, brush our hair, brush our hair. This is the way we brush our hair on a frosty morning.’
Obviously the words can be altered for other tasks such as teeth cleaning and putting on clothes, so try this out. Good luck!