How To Make Your Toddler Wear A Coat: A Parents' Guide

We know you're cold really.

The temperature has dropped and the thermostat is cranked up, but still it is a daily battle to get a toddler to put on a warm coat.

Everyone moans about teenagers being dressed inappropriately, but the struggle is just as real for parents of toddlers.

You know they will be cold (and will moan once you’ve have left the house) but they refuse to dress for the season, and instead prefer to opt for the summer shorts. Of course.

“Wrestling a toddler into a coat when they don’t want to wear one is a near-impossible task,” Cathy Ranson, editor of ChannelMum told HuffPost UK.

“It may sound like a small thing but if you’re already stressed and pushed for time, it can be challenging to cope with.”

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Why does my child not want to wear a coat?

For most parents the battle isn’t just about getting your child to do as they are told, but struggling to understand why their little one is choosing to spend the day being cold. If we had the choice we’d leave the house in our duvet.

Amanda Gummer, child psychologist at Fundamentally Children, explained: “Children have a different body temperature to adults and also tend to be more active, so whilst we may think it’s cold, your child may not be feeling it.

“It’s much better to get them to learn to take responsibility for themselves, learn to listen to their bodies from an early age and not have this as a source of stress and conflict in the family.”

However, this doesn’t mean your child is immune to the cold and spending long periods of time exposed can increase their risk of colds and illness, so it is worth explaining to them why it’s important to wear a coat.

How do I get my child to wear a coat?

Gummer advised: “Pick your battles and let them learn from experience. The first time, (and every time for very young children), take the coat with them for when they inevitably do get cold.”

“For older children, especially if you’re only going out somewhere for a little while, suggest they take it and carry it themselves if they don’t want to wear it, but if they don’t, feel free to just let them learn from their own mistakes, assuming you’re not going out into Arctic storms!”

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How can I win this argument?

Positive language: Instead of focusing on all the reasons your child is wrong to not take their coat, give them the decision-making-power.

“Positive comments, like ‘It looks cold outside’ and ‘I’m going to wear my thick coat and take my gloves, what about you?’ Take the conflict away and give the child more control,” said Gummer.

Give them choices: It can be tempting to dictate what your child wears in an effort to save time, but according to Mumsnet users a toddler is more likely to play along if they get a choice.

“Give your toddler a choice between two outfits,” advised one forum user. “Often they just want to feel in control of the situation. Or give them the illusion of choice but don’t mention the coat ― just ask whether they’d like the buttons done up.”

Open the front door: Ranson explained that getting dressed inside can actually be self defeating.

“Get coats on in the hall with the front door wide open so they can feel just how chilly it is outside,” she said.

“It can be confusing when you’re asked to wear a coat when you’re inside and all warm and toasty.”

Check the weather: Get them involved in checking the weather so they can make an informed decision.

“Get a weather app on your phone and encourage the kids to check the app before they leave the house,” advised Ranson.

“Get them to tell you how cold it is outside and if it’s going to rain later - they’ll be the ones telling you you need to put a coat on.”

Rewards and games: Ranson said: “Keep a sheet of little stickers by the front door and when the coats are on and done up everyone gets to choose a sticker for their coat. Or make it a game and have a race to get your coats on.”

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What do I do if they just won’t cooperate?

If all else fails and you don’t have time for the battle in the hall then pre-empt it and get them dressed with lots of layers underneath.

“If all else fails invest in a light waterproof top and lots of layers and thermals underneath,” said Ranson.