Why Does Your Toddler Take Clothes Off?

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Why Does Your Toddler Take Clothes Off?

We've all seen it at some point. The toddler that will take off articles of clothing. Usually, it starts with the socks. Once mastered it's difficult to reverse the habit. However, it may help to understand why your toddler removes their clothes. Then from there, we can explore possible solutions on how to prevent this habit or reverse it.

  • Too Hot
When our children were younger I noticed each of them would pull their socks off as early as 6-9 months of age. So to give relevance to time, our children were born in the Fall months. So, 6-9 months is when we are then in the warmer months. And I understood the kids were feeling too warm. Instinctively the first thing that became a bother were their socks. In this type of situation, the best option is to make the child as comfortable as possible. The temperature outside and your child's comfort temperature will be your guide. 
 
What do I mean by 'comfort temperature'? The easiest way to determine this is to see how your child sleeps and when they sleep best. Here's an example: At night our house is kept between 68-70 degrees. For our eldest, he sleeps most comfortably on the warmer side. He sleeps with a Sherpa-lined comforter while being individually wrapped in a blanket. He also likes to take another blanket and use it to cover his head. Which in theory would be like him wearing a winter hat and scarf to sleep.  For our youngest, he only likes having his comforter. Sometimes, throughout the night, I find that he has pulled the comforter below his chest with his arms out. 
So what did I learn from the way they both sleep? That our eldest likes to stay warm and cozy while the youngest likes to stay on the cooler side. This information helps me dress them based on where we are going to help them be as comfortable as possible. At an outdoor movie on a 78-degree night, I would dress the eldest in pants, socks, carry a jacket, and a blanket just in case. For the youngest, shorts, sandals, and carry a jacket.
 
  • Uncomfortable Fabric
Have you ever experienced an itchy sweater? I would think most of us have at one point or another in our lives. And as we would know it is nothing nice about an itchy sweater. They will have you ready to stop at the nearest store to buy different clothes. Or even drive all the way back home to change.
 
Well, this could be the similar type of feeling that causes your toddler to remove unwanted clothing. The fabric could be something that the toddler simply does not like the feel of upon their skin. Personally, after about 78 degrees or above I do not like the feel of polyester-type shirts on my skin. And the warmer it is the more irritated I will feel. 
 
For this type of problem try changing the type of fabric and see how your toddler reacts. Did they take it off quickly or was it some time before they removed it?
 
  • Too Tight 
We all know that our babies seem to grow every week and in many cases this is true. There have been many occasions where the pair of pants our child wore 2 weeks ago are not fitting today. Luckily, most of the pants we buy have an adjustable waist that allows us to loosen them in these cases. 
 
Being too tight does not always have to deal with the fact of being too small. Too tight can also mean too huggable or even too fitted. Your toddler may not be too fond of actually feeling the clothing against their skin snuggly.
 
In these cases, I would check the tightness of the cloth in certain areas to help ensure comfort. The top three areas I would check are: 
 1.  Waist: You should be able to comfortably get your finger between the clothe and your child's waist without much resistance.
 2.   Crotch: Ensure that your child has room between their genitals and the crotch of the pants. About an inch or more distance could help ensure this. Clothing that is too tight in this area can cause several problems.
 3.   Underarm: If you try to take the top off of your toddler and it seems to feel like you have to apply a little more oomph to get the arms and shoulders out. Then more than likely the underarm is too tight. Visually it would look as if the seam of the shirt is riding into the armpit too closely
 
  • Too Loose
Sometimes playing in oversized clothes is fun. If they start to get in the way of the fun then big clothes are annoying. In some cases, clothing could seem too loose for your toddler, and feel like they are getting in the way of playtime. If your toddler constantly pulls their clothing out of the way this may be the issue. Especially when long sleeves knock over, grab, and dip into everything. Try short sleeves, sleeveless, or more fitted clothing. 
 
  • Too Thick
Having too many layers of fabric that is thick, like a typical sweater, could contribute to a toddler's discomfort in wearing clothing
 
  • Visual Disturbance
Did you know that colors can affect one's mood? Think about it. How does the color yellow make you feel? Happy? Joy? Lighter? Or How about the color Red? Cautious? Upset? On Edge? Like colors, patterns can have their own effect. 
 
For a toddler, certain colors or patterns could cause a disturbance. I have even experienced the dizzy effect that comes from a black and white pattern. 
 
  • Habit 
Many of us have formed habits that are triggered by an everyday occurrence. When I hear a very melodic beat that pulls on my emotional cords I start to tap my foot. An unconscious habit formed from marching band days. If your toddler is more familiar with being comfortably undressed around the house then keeping clothes on could become a struggle. In this case, I would try to use the least amount of pieces possible. I would also choose light fabrics. If you are dealing with a younger type of toddler try something that may be more difficult for them to get out of. Examples: onesies, rompers, or overalls
 
  • Thinks It's a Game
It is not fun to be in a rush only to have your toddler appear without their clothes on when it's time to walk out of the door. Although your toddler may think it is fun playing "catch the baby" as they swerve and dodge your grasp. 
 

How to Keep My Toddler From Removing Their Clothes?

There is not a fix-all way to keep your toddler from removing their clothes. Yet, there are a few things that could help over time.
 

Choose Clothing that is harder to remove

Toddlers on the younger side might enjoy this option. Some of the younger toddlers do not know how to remove certain types of clothing. Such as overalls with buttons or pants that have a belt on them. 
 

Let Them Choose Their Own Cute Outfit

For the toddlers that have more of a visual discomfort with clothing, this may benefit them. If you give your toddler a few options to choose from and they actually choose something, let them wear it. In this way, it would give them a sense of pride. I mean who doesn't like to show off what they are proud of, right? Also, try accessories to help boost their sense of style. 
 

Communicate the Importance of Wearing the Clothes 

Now I know that this option may seem obvious and I'm sure you have told your toddler something similar to "We need to leave the house!" However, that does not exactly communicate the importance of wearing clothes. So, your toddler may not exactly understand the importance. And depending on your child's comprehension of the matter. It may take multiple conversations before they are able to understand. 
 
Overall the reason why your toddler takes their clothing off could be related to some type of sensory connection. If you can figure out what that sensory trigger is then a solution can be found.  At the very least, rest assured that toddlers that take off their clothes will grow out of the habit. In the meantime, know that, as a parent, we understand the struggle so there's no need to feel pressured or embarrassed. If you can only get them in some bottoms of some sort, then do that and move on. Take care of what's needed and ignore the ignorant passerby. Besides these types of childhood memories make great graduation and wedding stories to share, right

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