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How do I convince a toddler to wear a hat this Halloween?
October 27, 2010 11:34 AM   Subscribe

How do I convince a toddler to wear a hat this Halloween?

A good friend of mine wants to dress her 18-month-old daughter up in a viking costume this Halloween (fits the personality). Unfortunately, said toddler doesn't tolerate hats or hoods. Are there any good tricks to get around that?
posted by christopherious to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
In my experience, no.

Our toddler has an adorable monkey hat where the monkey head sits on his head like a hat. He wore the outfit to a birthday party with the head hanging down his back.

Babies may come with hats initially, but they sure grow to dislike them later on.
posted by zizzle at 11:37 AM on October 27, 2010


With help from an accomplice, put the hat on the toddler, then take a blurry picture of the screaming toddler in the hat. Let the toddler go without the hat after the picture is taken.

That's what we did last year. This year we planned an outfit that works without a hat.
posted by leapfrog at 11:37 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


*costume -- he also has a monkey hat, but I was referring to his costume in this case.
posted by zizzle at 11:37 AM on October 27, 2010


Have had two toddlers. Both liked their costumes leading up to Halloween. But not on Halloween night. So they were a "cat" and "lumberjack" in theory more than practice. (no hood or ears, no 5 o'clock shadow makeup)
posted by bendybendy at 11:40 AM on October 27, 2010


Since it's a viking costume for a girl, could she make a headband with a blonde yarn braid hanging from it to reference this type of thing? she wouldn't have a hat, but it would still be a cute head accessory.

depending on how responsive the 18 month old is, sometimes just talking things up can get them excited or willing to try it. Like eating vegetables.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:41 AM on October 27, 2010


i was a mall photographer for a decade. i have taken pictures of more nonplussed kids/babies/toddlers in costumes than i can count. the short answer is no, you can't. if the child was indifferent to this particular hat, but liked them generally, we'd have a starting point - but if they're going into it already hating hoods and hats, you're just asking for a lot of work for no results and a pissed off toddler.

leapfrog has the answer if mom must get a memory of this costume. this is what we did - kid is brought in in street clothes, we coax or force them into the costume, we see how not upset we can get them, we throw toys, we make loud noises and we try to get one singular picture where the kid is put together, costumed, and not screaming. then we strip them down to their diaper/put them in "fall" clothes and do the rest of the shoot with fake pumpkins and shit. one of our most used tricks was to set up a fun scene, filled with props they can grab at, get the camera and everything all set up and then seconds before the snap, mom puts the hat on the kid and i try to be quick enough to take the picture before the hat is hurled at me. this picture is almost always an "activity shot" - as in, kid is looking at the props/interacting with the scene - but it ends up looking cute enough.

all of this same advice and warnings go for the christening gown/christmas outfit/swim suit/etc. the most enduring lesson from my time at the mall studio was "kids don't give a fuck about what you want".
posted by nadawi at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


Mini-burger didn't like things on her head when younger. Mrs cheesy just kept up with it and eventually mini came around. Granted, this argument happened when she was only a few months old, instead of when full-toddler age. Perhaps getting a similar hat for Mom and Dad to wear around the house, eventually getting little viking to think it's neat?
posted by cheesyburgercheese at 11:49 AM on October 27, 2010


Much like with a puppy, the only thing that worked with our daughter was to offer praise enthusiastically, generously, constantly - and reinforced with repeated applications of treats ( M&Ms instead of cut-up hot dog - ymmv).
posted by peagood at 11:53 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


She's probably a bit too young for the obvious solution: bribe with candy.
posted by gnutron at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010


Don't bother. Why torment a little kid just to get a photo? My daughter didn't like hats, so I didn't even try, after the initial attempt led to a screaming fit.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


My kid was 1 last year and 2 this year.

Would not wear a hat for either events.
posted by k8t at 12:01 PM on October 27, 2010


> Since it's a viking costume for a girl, could she make a headband with a blonde yarn braid hanging from it to reference this type of thing?

Anything placed on the head is ejected with extreme prejudice.

> depending on how responsive the 18 month old is, sometimes just talking things up can get them excited or willing to try it. Like eating vegetables.

Good suggestion. In my opinion this may be a good solution but the mom is skeptical enough to not want to chance a costume purchase. (Maybe we can craft something instead.)

> Don't bother. Why torment a little kid just to get a photo? My daughter didn't like hats, so I didn't even try, after the initial attempt led to a screaming fit.

The motivation is, I think, equally split between a photo-op and just getting to watch her kid run around like the little Viking she is. And sometimes I think it would be impossible to torment this kid if you tried - she's tougher than most toddlers I've met, of both genders.
posted by christopherious at 12:04 PM on October 27, 2010


In my experience the only way to make a hat-wearing baby/toddler is to start them with hats when they first enter the world and refuse to let up (on tied-on, all-the-time hat wearage) until they're old enough to appreciate games of "pick which hat to wear today!!"

Thus, the easiest way for you to get your child in a photo with a hat on, at this point, is to acquire an infant.
posted by SMPA at 12:10 PM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


My experience has been completely different. Baby ambrosia tolerated hats as a newborn but started pulling them off as soon as he was coordinated enough to manage it- at about 4 months old. Since we live in California I didn't sweat it too much. Last winter (he was 21 months old) we were preparing for a December trip to Europe where a hat would be a necessity. I took him to BabyGap and kept trying on all the different hats. The one that stayed on the longest was the one I bought, and he grew to *love* wearing that hat, and then others, to a ridiculous degree.

In my experience, the two ways I've gotten my toddler to adopt a desired behavior is by either a)letting him choose the specifics (like the hat) or b) getting a beloved slightly older cousin to model the desired behavior, and then he wants to join in and do it too (in our case, bath time.)

It's not really a question of convincing a toddler to do something they don't want to do. That will never work. It's getting a toddler to change their mind and decide for themselves they want to do it.
posted by ambrosia at 12:19 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Semantics. Just kidding. You're absolutely right, ambrosia. Most toddlers tend to be nigh impossible to convince, when they've already formed strong opinions. (I used the word loosely.)
posted by christopherious at 12:25 PM on October 27, 2010


ime kids respond most to behavior modeling - NOT talking.

If the big folks are having a genuine good time with things on their head the kid will want to join the fun. Resist the temptation to meta-narrate the fun ("Doesn't this look like FUN??") and just, you know, have actual fun around the kid in funny hats.

It may be too late to employ this tactic this year but remember (for better or worse) your kid is watching you WAY more than listening to you, this applies double to cajoling.

also bribery - typically embedded into a "plan" (first we put the hat on, take a picture, eat a gallon of ice cream, take out the trash, ...)
posted by victors at 12:27 PM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Leave the hat lying around. Have everyone else in her life wear hats all the time. Different hats, crazy hats. Let her explore. Then see what happens. If your friends lucky it might just work.
posted by samhyland at 12:31 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


All right, I think I have a plan. Since I'm obviously already invested in this, I'll absorb the cost of the hat myself and will model it myself next time I see the toddler in the hopes of tricking her into coveting it. She'll probably see right through this, but there's a slim chance it'll work. Thanks for the tips, folks!
posted by christopherious at 1:15 PM on October 27, 2010


We have had good luck convincing our nephew to do many things by insisting he can't do it. "I bet you can't eat one more bite! I bet you can't! Nope, no way you can!"
posted by kestrel251 at 2:42 PM on October 27, 2010


haha. So funny. My son was a viking last year. I got him to try it on for a minute when I finished making his costume- other than that we have only one photo of his father standing behind him while he hovers the hat over his head.

I linked to it last year in the costume wrap up
posted by beccaj at 3:44 PM on October 27, 2010


This is aligned more with the bribery camp, but do you have time for "baby steps"? How long will she wear it now? - you could start there (even if it's only 5 seconds). Next time, maybe try 7 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, then for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, etc (if it's just for a photo op how long does she need to wear it - 5 minutes max?? Or mom can get set up and at the last minute pop the hat on for 30 seconds to get a shot?). Maybe try once or twice a day?

Set a timer - during the time she's wearing the hat appropriately (sitting with hands not coming up to take hat off, etc.) it's FUN TIME - sing songs, turn on video, you look so pretty!/such a big girl!/etc (whatever she likes). If hat is taken off, fun stuff stops, try again later. After she keeps it on for the entire time period, hat can come off and she can get something cool (extra video time, favorite snack, tickles from fun friend who asks MeFi questions, etc.). If not successful, try same or lower amount of time tomorrow and work back up. If successful, increase time slightly next time.

It may take a few days, but slow and steady should get you there. The idea is that by making those multiple good things happen during and right after and ONLY during and right after hat time, her compliance with wearing the hat will become better (i.e., positive reinforcement).

[Disclaimer: I am biased toward this approach because I see this work day in and day out at work, but with preschool/kindergarten age children, not toddlers. So of course, YMMV.]
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 8:31 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


With my kids, offering them a "bribe" worked. If you where this for x number of hours, you'll receive ___ when we get through.
posted by drjmac at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


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