Dress Kids for Comfort at Daycare and School

Mother helping son put on shirt
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Before you buy clothes for your youngster for daycare or school, there's more you should know besides whether there is a school dress code. Here are some heartfelt suggestions from care providers and educators to ensure happy and comfortable kids.

Be Practical

Kids may look absolutely precious in ruffles and lace, but let's be honest, your child's caregiver or teacher wants your kids dressed for practicality and fun. Dressy clothes for outdoor play or recess can be downright hazardous. The excess fabric can easily catch or snag on playground equipment and can create running hazards as well. Kids need to be dressed in practical clothes, please.

Avoid Difficult-to-Remove Items

It's tempting, yes, and parents can even argue that tights keep legs covered by cold weather. That part is true, but imagine being a child care provider who attempts to continuously get kids undressed and dressed for potty time or to change diapers while peeling through layers of tights and lacy bloomers that go over panties or diapers, and you'll have to agree: It's a lot of work a lot of times throughout the day.

Choose Easy-to-Manage Outfits

Toddlers through age 7 or so need simple to unfasten, or better yet, pull-on type clothing during the day when in daycare or school. When seconds count between a successful bathroom break and an unfortunate accident, kids need "dash-n-go" style clothing. And, many kids are embarrassed when they can unsnap something, but cannot re-snap afterward and have to ask for assistance.

Have your child demonstrate that they can successfully re-fasten pants or other garments before they wear them to school.

Leave Bows and Hats at Home

A hair bow that is affixed around a ponytail is one thing. A fancy clip-on bow that costs a pretty penny and keeps sliding out (or continuously gets yanked out) of a tot's hair should be left at home. The same holds true for fancy barrettes and clips that can hurt a child's tender head when they lie down at naptime.

Ball caps or simple sunhats can be great for field trips or outdoor play, and warm hats are essential in cold weather. But beyond that, providers and teachers don't want to keep up with fancy hats that are just for style and are easily taken off and lost or damaged.

Dress for the Season

Sweats in the summer? Shorts when it's 50 degrees? Providers are often dismayed to face incorrectly dressed kids brought in, which can cause limitations to what they can do that day. Parents need to stay in tune with the seasons and temperature forecasts.

Some families keep an extra set of clothes in their car in case of surprise weather changes.

Don't Forget the Jacket

Many a teacher has lamented that kids come to child care without a jacket on cool days, only to either shiver or get left inside when classmates get much-needed outdoor time.

If possible, purchase an inexpensive jacket that can stay in your kid's cubby at daycare or school (mark your child's name on it prominently) so that your tot is always prepared in case an unexpected cool front comes through. Most providers prefer simple-to-zip jackets with a built-in hood.

Provide Sturdy Sneakers

Good ol' socks and tennis shoes are all-around the best footwear for kids on the go. Leave sandals and flip-flops at home unless kids can independently take them off and put on a packed pair of socks and tennis shoes. (Just imagine having to remove and change shoes on multiple tots before going anywhere...isn't it hard enough with your own kids?)

If your child can't tie their shoes, then do your provider a favor and select velcro-style or slip-on style shoes to avoid shoelace maintenance.

Bring a Change of Clothes

Place a seasonally appropriate change of clothes (including socks and underwear) in a gallon-size Ziploc baggie and mark your child's name on it and place in your kid's cubby or with the caregiver...just in case.

Just be sure to replace this extra set of clothes as the seasons change and your child grows (something parents often forget to do). Elementary school-aged children will benefit from the same suggestion; even older kids aren't past accidental spills at lunch and during art class.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.