Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 37: Dressing

HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 37: Dressing

Children with disabilities, like other children, should be encouraged from an early age to help with their own dressing. It is important, however, not to push a child to learn skills that are still too difficult for her level of development.

under 1 year old
Baby does not help at all.
1 year old
Cooperates when being dressed.
2 years old
Removes loose clothing.
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3 years old
Puts on loose clothing.
4 years old
Buttons large buttons.
5 years old
Dresses alone except for difficult steps.
6 years old
Ties shoe or adjusts sandals.
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Children may learn dressing skills at different ages depending on local customs and on how much importance parents give to learning these skills. Observe what other children in your village can do at different ages. Children may begin to take off their clothes before they are 2 years old, yet may not learn to put on all their clothes correctly until they are 5 or 6 years old. Often a normal 6-year-old may put a shirt on backward, or the left sandal on the right foot.

Children who are slow in their development or who have difficulty with movements may be slower to learn dressing skills. It may seem quicker and easier for someone to simply put the clothes on her, without interacting with the child. However, this will only delay the child’s development more.

It is important to use dressing as an opportunity to help the child develop in many areas at once: awareness, balance, movement, and even language.

a woman speaking as she helps a child to dress.
That's right — put your hands on my shoulders. Now put your foot into the skirt. Good girl!

As you dress the child, talk to her. Help her learn her body parts, the names of clothes, and the way these relate: “The arm goes into the sleeve,” “The foot goes into the pants,” and so on. This will help the child begin to learn language and connect parts of her body to her actions and things around her.

Helping the child gain dressing skills takes time and patience. Let her try to do as much as she can for herself. Be ready to help if it gets too difficult, but only as much as is needed. It is not good to frustrate the child so much that she will not want to try again. Be sure the task is not too advanced for the child’s level of development.

This page was updated:27 May 2020