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Toddler style

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Liv Wilson

Liv Wilson, age 2, wakes up each day and dresses herself in tutus, heels, and more creative fashion. Her mom Carla said she loves to run errands in her high heels.

Buzz Baby is a column about life with little ones. Writer Annie McQueen is a mother of four children under the age of 8.

Parenting a toddler can feel like one big wild rollercoaster ride – it can be a quick, unpredictable, and at times, jolting experience. Some moments might make you want to pull your hair out, and at other moments, you realize you need to just embrace the beautiful mess, enjoy the short years, and hang on for the ride. 

Take toddler fashion, for instance. It can be just as wild and unpredictable as that rollercoaster ride. 

There is one thing that is for certain – toddlers who pick out their own outfits bring an extra flare to an ordinary day. Suddenly, a mundane trip to the grocery store with a miniature Spider-Man in rain boots by your side can bring smiles and laughter from onlookers. 

Those veteran parents give that “I-have-been-there” grin. Meanwhile, the toddler experiences pure happiness when they feel they have full creative control over their wardrobe choices. They can express themselves as they desire, which is ultimately what we all want to do with our own wardrobes, right? So, we cannot blame them too much.

Mom-of-two Carla Wilson says her toddler daughter, Liv, age 2, dresses in outfits of her own choosing every day. “The first thing she requests when she wakes up is a princess dress or tutu, and her heels,” said Carla. “She will not leave the house in anything but heels without a battle.” She walks around the house, proudly displaying her outfits and style. 

Carla gives Liv autonomy in her decision-making on her outfits. Even Liv’s big brother, Teddy, loves his sister’s eclectic toddler style. Liv also likes to cover her big brother in Band-Aids as an accessory. “She is the sweetest girl and just loves to tell what is on her mind,” said Carla. Her vivacious spirit speaks through her imaginative outfits.

Ezra Schaffer

Ezra Schaffer grabbed his mom’s sunglasses on a trip and decided to wear them daily.

Parents can embrace the clothing chaos or stick to “normal” attire. Often, it depends on the occasion, or the amount of time they have to get out the door without pushback (sure, wear those rain boots all day in the middle of summer). A good tip to help with these situations is to give them two choices of outfits, so they feel they have control but are still going to be dressed appropriately for an important occasion, or the weather.  

Allowing a toddler to choose their own outfits can be a fantastic way to encourage their independence and self-expression. Back in 2017, mom Emily Belcher allowed her then-toddler son to pick his outfit for their Christmas card photo. He chose over-the-knee socks, which is now a funny memory for her to reflect on. While their ensembles may leave you questioning the laws of fashion, remember that creativity knows no bounds, especially in the mind of a toddler.

Accessories can be a toddler's best friend. Mom-of-two Allison Schaffer says her toddler son Ezzy likes to sport her oversized sunglasses as he lounges poolside. Some parents, like Allison, can pick their kids’ clothes a little longer if they are of the personality of not caring too much about what they wear. She says her two boys have not started to push back yet on her outfit selections. “I like to dress them in matching outfits and so far, they allow me to,” said Allison. 

Ben Miller

LAYER UP Ben Miller (pictured) had a swim date planned, so he put his own unique spin on his attire for the day. He layered up some regular clothes over his swim clothes. Mom Laura let him run with the idea.

Toddlers also tend to have a magical ability to ignore all weather forecasts. Rain boots on a sunny day? Why not? Freezing cold temperatures outside? Sure, let’s go in a sundress. It might only make sense to them, but it is how they perceive the moment and what feels right.

Buzz mom Laura Miller said her son, Ben, knew he would be going swimming in the afternoon. He had been looking forward to the swim time, so in preparation, he planned his attire accordingly. Laura leaned into it and let him go with it. “He first put on all his swim gear, head to toe,” said Laura. “I asked him to put on normal clothes, which he did, but over his swim outfit, including a hat. He wore this all day,” said Laura. He put on multiple layers over the swimsuit.

These parents, and many others, have learned to embrace the charm of mismatched socks, neon sunglasses, costume capes, and layers and layers. Their little ones rock the runway of the local playground, turning heads and getting smiles from strangers who perhaps were once in those parents’ shoes or feel those days coming. Think of it as a front-row seat to their evolving personalities.

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