Livin' la vida toddler

Superman cape? Peanut butter-encrusted scarf? Monkey T? Cowboy PJs? Ruby slippers? Toddlers certainly have their opinions — about what to do, what to eat and what to wear (and wear again).

And unless you're having a formal dinner with the in-laws, it's probably best to just go with it.

Wanting to wear the same thing over and over is all about a toddler wanting consistency and control. The world is a big, scary, ever-changing place, and toddlers seem to be comforted by repetition, whether it's wearing the same shirt every day, singing the same song every night or watching the same DVD over and over (and over).

So here are four quick tips to let your little one assert a little independence and still be clean.


Sneak it into the super-secret late-night wash

After bath, put your child's current obsession to bed, too. If your child is so attached that she insists on clinging to some extremely grubby item all night long, wait until she's in deep sleep (at least 15 minutes) before you try to slide it out to toss it in a nighttime wash. Even if you just give it a quick rinse, that might keep it fresh (or fresh-ish) until laundry day. Or, if it's a cloth item, why not let your child wash it in the bath with her, then hang it up to dry in the bathroom for the night? (Hint: don't attempt this with stuffed animals.)

Get them on the clean team

Another way to persuade your child to give up the Monkey T for washing is to let her be involved with the process. Toddlers are fascinated by big, metal washers and all of their noises and buttons. Let her put it in the washer and push the button to start the machine. If you child cries for Monkey T, you could explain how Monkey T is taking a bath. You might even distract her by turning the whole experience into the story of the Monkey T's fun adventure in the washing machine waves.

Buy doubles

If your child's obsession is long-lasting, and if you're able to do it, pick up a twin of her favorite item. Sometimes they'll be okay with switching between the two. And you'll have a little more time to keep at least one of them clean.

And finally — let it go

Yes, it can be annoying if your child leaves the only hat she will wear at daycare over the weekend in a snowstorm, or if she wants to wear a too-small chocolate-milk-stained t-shirt to Nana's wedding. But remember, as in all things parenthood, this phase will pass. Because, admit it, she also looks pretty cute. So take lots of pictures. One day, when you offer up that tutu, she'll look at you like you're insane. And you may even be a tiny bit sad that she’s moved on.