Use a Pullover Bib to Practice Pre-Dressing Skills

  Use a pullover bib to practice pre-dressing skills. So simple!

Yesterday morning my 17-month-old son was wearing a pullover bib (something I had never heard of until my mother-in-law gave us one) and, all of a sudden, he pulled it up and over his head just like he was taking off a shirt. As soon as I saw him do this, a light bulb went off in my OT head and I thought, Aha! What a perfect way to teach kids to pull a shirt up and over their head! Check out the video below to see what I mean (please excuse the mess!).

We pediatric occupational therapists often work on self-care skills with young children who struggle with them, including tasks such as feeding, grooming, and dressing. I’ll be honest, teaching kids pre-dressing skills such as learning to take off their shirt is not my favorite goal to work on in therapy because it can be really, really tough! For kids who have developmental delays, language delays, attention difficulties, or overall difficulties with coordination, sequencing, and body awareness, taking off or putting on a shirt probably feels like trying to wrestle an octopus. They can barely see what they’re doing and there are a lot of parts to keep straight — literally.

But by giving them a pullover bib (which can also be used as a pretend superhero cape!), you are naturally breaking it down into simpler parts so they can be successful one step at a time. Brilliant! And I have to say, just a few hours after I took this video, my son all of a sudden started trying to pull off his own shirt…it really works! Pullover bibs can be found for purchase online by clicking here.

Has anyone else tried this before? What are other ways you’ve learned to help children to learn to put on or take off a shirt? I’ve tried using visuals, including this one, but I don’t feel like they’ve been too effective. Please share your wisdom with us all!

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3 thoughts on “Use a Pullover Bib to Practice Pre-Dressing Skills

  1. With my two children I have just used fun tones of voice to say simple commands and make a game of dressing even when I knew they might not fully understand what they should do. That at least occupies them enough and lets them know what you will be doing for them. For example, I might say head UP as my child’s head would pop through the shirt, then I smile and get excited to see the face again when they fully emerge. I say hands UP, as I slip theirs hands and arms through the shirt and slide them up and through some times counting hands oNe and TwO. Socks go on as I say sock oNE and sockkkk tWO! When pants go on I say where are those toes push them through, oNe and TwO and I tickle those toes as they come out. Then stand them up and pull up those pants and hug and take a few seconds to recognize the fully dress cutie in front of me. This has worked for us they have both started dressing without much further instruction. Although my youngest is still one 19 months she knows what to push though and the order of things. For her age I have added feet UP for the start of sock and legs UP for the start of pants so she can help that much. She even loves hats, gloves, mittens (!) and slippers and manages to get them on by herself. My son would button his shirts most of the time, some buttons are hard even for me and those I would do. He would ask for a button shirt and sometimes a tie since three and a half. He is my sensory seeker and now he is four he know how to fully dress and undress without a problem, however lately procrastinates. We will start soon with and OT and will hopefully find out how we can get him to do what he already knows. These days it sometimes comes down to us helping all over again. Oh and with shoes we have started with Velcro and like for my son get tied shoes when possible, they both started closing and opening the Velcro easily on their own out of curiosity as well as get them on and off.

  2. Brilliant. Never heard of a pullover bib before, my son is 19 mo, and shows no interest in dressing himself, or even trying – but this looks like an easy way to “prime the pump” as they say. Thanks for posting.

  3. Pingback: Mama OT's One Year Anniversary Giveaway! - Mama OTMama OT

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