Akron occupational therapy

When Should Kids Learn to Button & Zip? Akron Occupational Therapy Insight

Learning to zip, button, and use “fasteners” for dressing is a key self-care skill. Multiple times every day, we’re zipping jeans, buttoning shirts, zipping coats, buttoning pajamas, etc. We don’t expect kids to learn all this overnight, but as our Akron occupational therapy team can explain, mastering these skills to the point of being able to handle them without the aid of a parent or teacher is key to a independence.

For kids with developmental delays and disabilities, acquiring these skills may take a bit longer. Our Akron occupational therapy team can help.

Although every kid develops at their own rate, the general consensus is that typically developing kids will:

By age 2:

  • Unzip zippers with large tabs.
  • Pull a zipper up if an adult holds the bottom tight.
  • Unbutton larger buttons of 1 inch or more.

By age 3:

  • Unbutton 3 large buttons, even if they don’t do so in the exact right order.

By age 4:

  • Unzip and unsnap clothing while wearing it.
  • Close the front snap on their clothes.
  • Button and unbutton while wearing a front-opening garment.

By age 5:

  • Open all fasteners on any piece of clothing.
  • Hook and zip up on their own.

By age 6:

  • Can hook and zip on their own while wearing clothes.

There will of course be some variations – even among typically-developing children – but it’s important to bear in mind that each set of skills requires children to master other prerequisites. For example, a child without a neat pincer grasp (where the thumb touches the index finger while picking up a small object) is necessary before you can have any expectation that a child can start to take on zipping and buttoning.

Why Our Akron Occupational Therapy Team Prioritizes Button and Zipper Mastery

What’s the big deal with buttons and zipper? Occupational therapy is an area of practice concerned with helping people of all ages and abilities gain and maintain independence and success in the tasks of daily life. The ability to dress your own self is a matter of independence, and part of the “occupation” of daily living.

When we see a child is struggling to button, zip, and fasten, we look to see where are the skill deficits. Often, it’s one of the following areas with which they’re having difficulty:

  • Hand-eye coordination.
  • Visual skills.
  • Pinching and grasping.
  • Motor planning.
  • Sequencing.
  • Bilateral coordination.
  • Trouble paying attention.
  • Low frustration tolerance.
  • Lack of exposure or practice.

Once we’ve identified where the trouble spots are, we can incorporate “play time” exercises that will help kids gain confidence and work up to these skills.

If your child has ongoing struggles with these or other skills necessary for independence, our Akron occupational therapy team at Therapy & Wellness Connection can help.

Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides occupational therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Developmental Milestones: Dressing Skills, Children’s Hospital of Orange County

More Blog Entries:

5 Signs Your Child May Need Akron Occupational Therapy, Sept. 17, 2022, Akron Occupational Therapy Blog