Why Do Babies Hate Getting Dressed?

baby cranking while getting dressed

Most babies go through a phase where they dislike getting dressed or having their diaper changed to the dismay of their parents. Sometimes there is an obvious reason for this and sometimes it is hard to know exactly why. It can be frustrating to see them upset and to feel like every change is a fight.

Let’s talk more about when and why babies act this way and what can be done to help.

Is it normal for babies to cry when you’re changing them?

It can be for some babies and it is usually nothing to worry about. Babies may cry more during a change when they are cold or hungry and other babies will cry everytime. Then, there will be some babies who rarely cry during a change and do not seem to mind at all. Each baby is unique and responds differently to being changed, sometimes even each time you do it. All in all, it is normal for babies to cry during a change and there are a number of reasons for this. Remember, they are not in danger and the change will be over soon enough!

Why does my 1 year old baby hate getting dressed?

Your baby is a person (albeit a small one) with their own quirks, like and dislikes, just like you! Lots of babies don’t like having their clothes or diaper changed and here are some common explanations why:

  • They are cold or hot and babies are sensitive to temperature changes.
  • They feel unwell.
  • They have diaper rash and their butts feel sore during a change.
  • They want to do something else such as playing, sitting, crawling or eating.
  • They don’t like to be pulled and prodded. Babies can be sensitive to touch and may find the process uncomfortable. 
  • They want to be held and do not want to be put down.
  • They are not in control.

Here are some other things many babies may hate. Do any seem familiar to you?

How can you stop babies crying when getting them dressed?

There is no guarantee that anything you do will stop your baby crying when you change them, but there are things you can try to make the experience more pleasant for you both.

  • Maintain a calm expression towards your baby during a change because babies will pick up on any stress or sense if you are upset. This reassures your baby that they are safe and loved which puts them at ease.
  • Talk or sing to your baby to comfort them, this helps because babies generally respond positively to the sound of their parent’s voice.
  • Use a towel or blanket to put underneath your baby if your changing surface is cold or to cover any exposed body parts to keep them warm. There are other small hacks to try that can help too. Perhaps change your baby’s diaper first and leave their vest on to keep their chest and tummy warm while you do. Then move on to changing their vest.
  • Prepare your supplies before you start changing them. Grab spare clothes and diaper changing supplies and have them close to hand. This way, you can change your baby as smoothly and quickly as possible.
  • Move with efficiency where you can. 

Why do babies hate putting clothes over their head?

For babies, putting clothes over their head means they lose control which they do not like. In addition, it is uncomfortable for them and for a brief, and safe, period of time their nose and mouth are covered. Their natural instinct is to fight and free themselves, and this is completely natural.

Why does your baby hate putting arms in clothes?

Let’s face it, babies are constantly pulled and put into different positions, whether it be a car seat, high chair or to get dressed. Sometimes, enough is enough for them and they let you know about it by crying or whining. Babies often find putting their arms in clothes uncomfortable and awkward.

Be gentle and listen for any cries that sound different to a general complaint that might indicate they are in pain, rather than simply objecting to getting dressed. Adjust your style if you think your baby is hurting when you dress them.

Why does your baby hate getting changed after a bath?

Babies find it hard to adjust between the temperature of a nice, warm bath and a cold room while they wait to get dressed. As adults, we can relate to this too, just think about leaving your cosy house to walk out into the cold on a winter’s day!

Babies are extra sensitive to temperature changes compared to adults and cry to tell you that they are not happy with the situation. You can try wrapping them up in a warm towel, have clothes ready for them ahead of time and be ready to give them a big cuddle. They will warm up in no time and feel much better.

How to encourage a toddler to get dressed?

Here are some handy tips to get started:

  1. Let your toddler pick out their outfit, this gives them ownership over the activity and toddlers love to make their own choices.
  2. Give your toddler clothes with zips, poppers and ties to play and practice with. This builds interest in clothes and getting dressed even before they try to do it for themselves. Plus, this is a great activity for developing fine motor skills, which is a welcome bonus!
  3. Play dress-up with your toddler so getting dressed becomes an act of play. Demonstrate putting on clothing yourself so they can see what to do. You don’t need special costumes for this and your existing closet contents will do the job.
  4. Talk to your toddler about their daily routine so they understand when and why we do things. For example, explain that after breakfast we get dressed and brush our teeth, and once those things are done we can play.
  5. Make getting dressed easy while they are learning to do it themselves. This means putting away that cute little romper with all the buttons for a few weeks and leaving out the easy to pull on pants and shirts. Take the stress out of it for them.

How to teach your toddler to take their shirt off?

Show them how you do it first and talk them through the process step by step. Stick to one way of taking a shirt on and off and let them practice. There is a helpful video to watch here.

What can you do if your baby hates having their diaper changed?

It is not pleasant to change your baby’s diaper while they are upset, but remind yourself that they are not in danger and it is a temporary thing. Stay calm, comfort them by talking and singing and be as prepared as possible for each change so that once you start the process, it moves smoothly and quickly.

How to distract your baby when you’re changing their diaper?

You could:

  • Give them a small toy to hold
  • Sing or talk to them
  • Show them a picture or light to focus their attention elsewhere
  • Get an older sibling to entertain them (this can go both ways so tread carefully and read everyone’s mood before you try this one!)

How to keep them on the changing table?

It is important to be gentle yet firm when changing your baby’s diaper so that they stay on the changing table and keep one hand on your baby at all times. One useful tip is to use one hand to hold their legs while you use the other to wipe them.

If you are particularly worried about them falling off a table you can change them on the floor using a portable changing mat. Lastly, check that your changing supplies are close to hand before you lay them down so you do not have to leave their side or move them once you start.

How to quickly change their nappy if you’re in a rush?

Most of your diaper changes will be fairly quick anyway, no one really likes to make them last! To make sure your changes are as smooth and speedy as possible make sure your supplies are close to hand and top them up after each change.

Should you wipe after every diaper change?

This is up to you, however there is evidence to suggest that overwiping is a cause of diaper rash. You can use wipes for poop only and even use a wet tissue, washcloth or a quick bath instead. 

How long can a baby stay in a diaper?

The standard answer to this question is 2-3 hours, but each baby and diaper brand and style is different. There are heavy duty diapers designed for longer night time stretches to help keep your baby dry. Follow the instructions that accompany your diapers and take note of your baby’s own routine so you can adjust your schedule accordingly.


What age should a child be dressing themselves?

A child may show an interest in dressing and undressing from 18 months, but it is not until between 2 and 3 years old that children can usually dress independently. Between 3 and 4 years old you can expect that your child can dress themselves, with some assistance needed from you for any tricky fastenings.
These ages are only a guide and each child will learn to dress themselves in their own time. Allow them the time and opportunity to figure this process out and remember, as a parent, to step back a little while they do.

why do some babies hate getting dressed
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