Assisting a child with dressing

Some children are unable to manage the tasks of dressing without help from a family member or caregiver. Help should be thoughtfully provided, and your child should be in control, selecting what to wear (when appropriate). When assisting, there are several ideas below1 which you may like to think about:

  • For children striving for independence with dressing, provide assistance only when absolutely necessary.

  • Keep your movements firm, but smooth and gentle.

  • Find out how your child prefers to be dressed, and which movements are likely to increase or lessen pain, or induce or reduce spasm.

  • Try and choose clothes that are easy to put on, attractive and adjustable.

  • Ensure that enough time is set aside to dress.

  • Make sure that there is enough space for both your child and yourself to manoeuvre.

  • If clothes are put on, taken off and laid out in the same order every time, the order becomes part of a daily pattern.

  • If your child has difficulty telling the difference between front and back, try marking the clothes on the inside.

  • Using a mirror can be helpful for dressing practice and to allow your child to assess how they look.

You may also like to read our information on developing dressing skills or view a range of clothing designed specifically for children with disabilities:

Advice last checked: 23 January 2018 Next check due: 23 January 2021

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
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