About helping toddlers learn to put their own coats on (an AMI guide’s complete presentation)

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 7.26.37 AM (photo only)

(actual video  ⬇️ )


So this video is the meat of the process, as are many available “coat flip” videos like it.

But many of these video tutorials are missing a critical detail– most toddlers fully struggle at orienting the jacket the correct way without adult help.  Older toddlers, (like the kiddo in this video) have already memorized the step of how to orient the jacket.  If they have not mastered jacket orientation, you will see a lot of adults orient the jacket for the child.   And at the end of the day that’s not complete functional independence.

We can’t skip the step of showing the child how to orient their own jacket.  And trust me when I promise that trying to walk around the jacket will definitely confuse a young toddler, LOL.

The goal for dressing skills, according to the Montessori tradition, is always complete functional independence, from start to finish, whenever possible.


Because toddlers often botch the orientation portion of putting on a jacket, they often end up putting the jacket on upside down.  And since toddlers lack focus and concentration, they may be fully capable of retrieving their own jacket from the hook;  but then…  they will enter a completely unfocused fervor and start running around the room, swinging the jacket around in their excitement about going outside, and all efforts towards  continuing the sequence of actually putting the jacket on will completely fall apart (LOL).

Some people try to use the “tag by your toes” advice.  But it is worth mentioning that some modern jackets, especially those made of fleece, use fabric ink as the tag and don’t have a tangible tag to make the advice “tag by the toes” concrete and applicable for the young child.


So here’s the presentation format I use to show a toddler how to correctly put their jacket on successfully, every single time, from start to finish.  If they skip any portion of the sequence, it probably won’t work; so I will have the child start over from the very first step, and put the jacket back on its hook before trying again.

  1. instruct child to find their jacket. (tip: it should always be on a hook when not in use)
  2. Lift the jacket off of the hook  (Toddlers CANNOT operate a hanger, trust me.  To think they can is a complete fallacy.  I would never introduce a hanger until the child was at least 2.5 years old and could demonstrate correctly folding cloths into quarters, or scrubbing a table from start to finish, beautifully. Otherwise, the problem-solving skills and sequencing attentional stamina is just not there).  The jacket should be hanging on the hook from its hood ideally; or from the hanging loop inside the collar.  Child should be shown to grab the hood with two hands using a cylindrical power grasp, or with a 2-handed pincer grasp on the left and right sides of the hanging loop.  They can be shown to “lift up to lift off” if they need help at first.  This same analysis of movement pattern will help them with all other “things hanging from hooks” problem-solving situations.
  3. The child should NOT walk away from the hook at this point!!
  4. instead, I show the child to take a step back.
  5. Lay the jacket on the floor. (a graceful, flip of the wrists and careful laying down of the jacket is ideal)
  6. Arms in the holes. (point to the arm holes if extra guidance is needed at first)
  7. … up and over your head.  (mimic the movement yourself if they don’t get it, or at first you may need to help facilitate a successful flip up and over their heads).
  8. Ask the child if they would like the zipper started; or if it is non-optional, start the bottom of the zipper for them.
  9. Tell them to pull the zipper up.  (tap the tab, or put the tab into their fingers if they need extra prompting at first for pulling up a zipper).

… and that’s how it’s done for all toddlers, from 18 months onward.  (:

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