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Toddler or Fashion Diva?

It's snowing, and your 15-month-old insists on wearing a tank top and sandals. In my case, it was my sister's wedding, and my toddler, Nathan, refused to wear a suit that had been sent from India especially for him. Choosing to wear only his diaper, he ran away in a huff.

But the truth is that toddlers aren't really that picky about fashion  -- they're just control freaks. These outbursts aren't about the particular clothes you've selected; your baby's world is changing so rapidly, it worries her. She's learning to talk, walk, and run away from you, and with all these new experiences, it's comforting for her to feel like she has control over some things. So what's the secret to a successful dress-up routine?

Set out clothes the night before. Place them in the same spot each time, so your toddler can predict where they'll be.

Make sure the outfit agrees with your child's (reasonable) likes and dislikes. For example, if she hates zippers, make sure there's Velcro.

Give your toddler a choice in accessories so that she feels more in control ("You can choose the red shoes or the blue shoes"), but only provide a couple of options, so as not to overwhelm her.

Don't get angry if your tot rejects your choices; she'll just get anxious and more unreasonable. Playfully give her an explanation ("That's all the shoe shop has today"). Direct your toddler's attention away from the clothes with a guessing game like "Where are your socks?" and have her bring them to you, or invent a fun dress-up song to sing each morning.