Should You Let Your Baby Be Naked?

In much of Europe and Africa it’s common to see naked toddlers playing outside. Most Europeans aren’t as uptight about nakedness as we are in America. But when my almost 16-month-old started taking off her clothes at a recent playgroup, I worried what the other parents would think.

Since we keep our house so cold, I’m often surprised at how comfortable Leone is in her birthday suit.

The other parents didn’t flinch, even when Leone insisted on doffing the diaper. They seemed to think the baby, with her Buddha belly pooching over her legs, was as cute as I did.

In a different crowd I think the response would be different.

I was hoping readers would weigh in:

Do your kids like to be naked? Do you discourage nakedness or are you okay with letting them tromp around in the buff?


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32 thoughts on “Should You Let Your Baby Be Naked?”

  1. I’d rather have my baby don on “appropriate” clothes. They have to know that the world is not safe. No matter how cute they may look naked, that doesn’t guarantee safety nor comfort. I was once warned about not showing cute (but naked) pictures of my daughter in Facebook because sexual predators might see it. How much more if they see your child naked in person. I also believe that teaching them how to dress appropriately will have a great impact on their personality and lives later on.

  2. My 28 mo daughter loves nakey-time, and I’d let her do it all the time, if I weren’t so tired of cleaning pee off the carpet!

    We’re not making a lot of potty-learning progress here, but one of the things I tell her is “You know, when you put your pee-pee in the potty all the time, you can be nakey more!”

    I probably wouldn’t let her run naked in a *public* public place, just because of the “disapproval” factor, but inside my only worry is the pee, and outside, it’s about the elements (cold or sun on her very, very fair skin).

  3. For us, nakedness is okay at home, friends’/families’ homes, the beach or pool, but not in other public places. Outside at any of those places it would be okay, but probably not at, say, the playground or the farmer’s market. I’d say those were the cultural norms in Germany having lived there. Perhaps it’s related to their relaxed take on pulbic urination (as long as you face away from the road, it’s okay); less of an issue with the pee that comes from naked kids.

  4. I don’t mind it at home at all. I figure I should be okay with it until she’s not okay with it anymore. Not outside of our house or yard, though. I guess I don’t have a fully formed reason for that, but I’ve never really had to think it through, because she’s never tested it (22 months).

    I do have a rule that I will NOT take photos of her without her clothes on — the sole reason being that those can be pretty embarrassing when the kid is older. I don’t want to do that to her. I want to respect her.

  5. i think at home naked time is fine, and at places like grandparents houses, but never with people i don’t know really well, and i will never post any pics online. this is because there are too many crazy sexual predators out there. i want my 22 mos to grow up feeling like her body is good and not something she needs to hide, but i also want to keep her safe. we do nakey time almost every night…she loves being naked, and it has helped tremdously with her learning to use the potty.

  6. It is very common here in New Zealand to see kids running around starkers at the beach. I certainly don’t think anything of it. Seems much more sensible than having them in sodden drooping diapers.

  7. My daughter (almost four) loves to be naked, inside and outside. In our yard it’s fine, but I do like her to keep undies on to protect her tender orifices. I’m not so comfortable with my kids stripping in public parks, which both of them have tried to do. It’s sort of a sad thing to explain to them, like many many things in this weird world.

    ps: 16 months at a playgroup seems like a fine place to be nekkid.

  8. 16 months, naked naked naked.

    i had naked loving boys.

    i’m just pro-naked if you want to be naked.

    sorry the world gives us any pause.

  9. My kids did everything naked – sandbox, bikes, you name it. Neighbors probably thought we were crazy. I did draw the line at them being out in public naked, though. Some people are just not comfortable with the nudity and I felt it was my responsibility to keep them clothed. Interesting aside. I now have a teen boy (who once ran around naked) who is horrified/embarrassed when there’s a naked child in his view. That’s something I wouldn’t have considered way back when, but now I’m very aware of it because it makes him so uncomfortable.

  10. My daughter loved being naked until almost 5; it was hard to get clothes on her when visitors came over. But she was also prone to “itchy crotch” so I tried to keep undies on to reduce chance of infection/irritation. My boy was a naked bean at 2 but not since. One thing I think re: keeping undies on in public is it often keeps their exploratory hands off their privates, a good thing because most folks don’t care for those fingers in the food trays, on the toys, furniture etc. in a more communal setting.

  11. Our children love to be naked. They are naked in our home whenever they want to be. They also sleep naked. They find it more comfortable. I also found toliet learning was easy with naked children. They wear clothes when they are not at home. It has never been and issue to transition they just learned naturally that it is appropriate to wear clothes to school or at Grandma’s or the grocery store. I believe that if more people and children were naked more often then some people wouldn’t automatically think SEX whenever they saw a nude body. The same way in which naked breasts scream SEX in our culture instead of MILK. If we saw more breasts breastfeeding a breast would become less about sex and more about feeding.

  12. I was always ok with it at home, in reasonable amounts. Like other readers, I did not want to clean pee up off the carpet and I didn’t want my child streaking out of the house or in front of others

  13. Great article. Our little girl is nearly always naked around home and outside in the buff all summer long. I did feel concerned about what other people thought but she seems so happy with her clothes off. I think it’s important to let children be comfortable with their bodies.

    I think this taboo about nudity is causing much more perverseness especially in America and developed countries. I’ve been to some other countries and many farms where children run around naked and there really is nothing wrong with it. There are so much more child-related offenders here than in most other countries.

    It’s also that children have a MUCH more positive self-image because they’re used to seeing real bodies, their parents, anyone… not the bodies in magazines or on the newsstand.

    Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

  14. It’s a tricky thing. My eldest never seemed to be embarrassed by nakedness. I think he might FINALLY have some modesty (at 13). My middle son, was VERY shy from early on and I have no idea why. My daughter, now 5, likes to be naked and very much likes to not wear underwear. I do make her wear clothes in public our in yard/house. My sons frequently have friends over and I don’t need them seeing her naked and teasing her now (or, my actual fear, is much later she’ll hate me that her brother’s friends saw her naked).

  15. I agree with Marissa. It’s not the child’s fault what the pervert thinks of them. That is something that the pervert has to deal with only (especially if a parent keeps pretty close tabs on the child). I believe that allowing a child to run naked for a time allows them some space to really get to know their whole selves. Allowing my daughter to run naked helped her get potty trained quicker, because I could actually observe when she was going potty and acknowledge what she was doing so that she could be aware of what those feelings before she went meant.

    A lot of people don’t really relate to their own bodies or feel comfortable in them anymore because nakedness itself has a vulgar status in the US due to societies worries about another person’s actions or thoughts. The truth is that perverts are perverts and they will have those nasty thoughts, most likely, whether the children that they are targeting have close on or not.

  16. Who wouldn’t want to be naked? It seems like the MOST human way to be, except when it’s too sunny or too cold.

    I have never stopped my kid from taking off clothes unless he would get sunburned or get too cold.

    However, IF I were uptight about it, maybe I would control it so that my kid didn’t get the idea from my anxiety, that naked isn’t okay. So, you parents who let them go naked but you “worry” about the response of others, what energetic messages are you sending to your kids?

    It seems that beyond letting/not letting our kids be naked, we also need to talk openly and appropriately about bodies to help them gather a safe and comfortable sense of their own bodies, sans shame!

  17. my almost 3yr old has spent most of her 2nd year without clothes (much easier on the laundry too!) she is naked at home almost the instant she walks in the door, but she knows to wear clothes to play outside if its too cold/rainy/etc and that she must be fully dressed to leave the house. i do not have any issues whatsoever with children/people being naked in their personal surroundings. my daughter is her happiest when she is naked, and honestly, who wouldn’t love to feel good in their own skin…..to her, it just feels natural and good. it was a challenge at first to get her to wear clothes outside the house, but she learned and understands now. it is a much different world if you travel outside this country. nudity is not such a huge deal, in the approriate surroundings, and it really makes america seem so uptight. i grew up in a household where everything was so discreet….never nakedness, never talked about going to the bathroom, just very private……as an adult, i wish i could have grown up in a more open household.

  18. I am a two time mom and a one time grandmother and being naked is not even a blip on my radar when it comes to concerns. Why? Because both my children and grandchild who is now two and a half enjoy being without clothes, running free both in the house and the backyard.

    The reader who says we must teach our children it’s a “dangerous world” is actually creating what she fears; danger. There is no evidence to support nudity among little children causes any psychological or physical harm and plenty of evidence to suggest being comfortable with one’s body and image is a good thing. Telling a child that the world is dangerous only breeds suspicion and fear which causes our culture to become dangerous. That’s just madness breeding madness.

    I’m disturbed by the very thought that being “nakey” is problematic. Children in pre-puberty are natural, non sexual beings who just don’t want to bother with the constrictions and hassles of clothing. So long as they take a bath, use the potty and don’t climb on things where they can get splinters I say enjoy the shear innocence and cuteness of a naked toddler!

  19. I agree with JUlie, above, one hundred percent. This fear of predators and kids hurting themselves is just crazy. It’s not that children don’t get hurt or that there aren’t sick individuals out there. But these fears are so exaggerated on the part of many Americans — fear breeds fear and repression. Keep an eye on your kid, and let them run around naked for God sake. It feels great and they’ll be in touch with their own bodies and the world around them.

    Interestingly enough, I had one kid who loved to be naked and one who didn’t. Kids are great at defining their own limits and discovering what works for them. As soon as my little nudist started going to school, he got a sense of when being naked was appropriate and when it wasn’t. I never had to say a thing.

  20. Pro Nakie Butt all the way!!! Of course there are things like *age* appropriateness, and situation and weather appropriateness, Restaurants- no, swimming? Yes!

    I also have to agree with Julie as above. This world is so much less dangerous than public media would like us to think.

  21. When we were on a Caribbean island years ago, my husband and I went to a nude beach. Even though our kids didn’t see us in the altogether, they protested they’d be on therapists’ couches for years recovering from the very thought of us … naked.

  22. When I was a kid, our neighbors, who were from England, let their 9-yr-old daughter play outside in the summer without a shirt. It scandalized the neighborhood, and they couldn’t have cared less. I thought it was refreshing that they had such a healthy attitude, though for me at the time 9 seemed like it was pushing the envelope. Probably the mom was used to going to the seaside topless, and didn’t feel like there was an envelope to be pushed. So many hidden prejudices and agendas behind an issue like this…

  23. My kids grew up in France. My daughter was on a beach here on Cape Cod as a toddler. She had only a bikini bottom. A man actually came up to me, as the mother, and said she was indecent. A toddler! I was shocked.

  24. I’m not a parent yet, but I think it’s tough for younger kids to understand the difference between what’s acceptable at home vs. what’s acceptable in public.

  25. Nakedness doesn’t bother me. I see lots of naked kids at the beach, for instance. The only time a naked kid bothered me was when his father explicitly told him (I was in ear shot) to pee on the sand. So the kid did. The bathroom was NOT far away and the kid was old enough to use a potty. It was just gross behavior on a beach that was super crowded.

  26. Funny, my kids didn’t get into going in the buff, instead they always seemed to want to change their clothes. Again. And again. And again…

  27. My sister was a big proponent of running around sans clothes as a kid – never bothered any of us, but I do agree with the earlier commenters’ notes about keeping it in the home and not taking pictures. That’s so mortifying to see as an adult.

  28. [email protected] Food. Stories. says:

    I grew up in a climate and culture that’s pretty relaxed about nudity…little kids often run up and down on the beach without a stitch of clothing on and it’s lovely to see them have that freedom…since i’m from australia, though, these days folks are all about covering up not from some new-found modesty but genuine concern regarding sun exposure and skin cancer.

  29. My 15 year old daughter loved to be naked when she was little(up to about 7 or 8 years old). She went to a preschool where the kids were allowed to take their clothes off, as long as they kept their underwear on. At least 50% of the time, when I went to pick her up, she would be in her underwear. Now she has a 2 year old brother, and acts disgusted if we let him go naked at the beach, but I just remind her how naked she was as a kid and she stops. We don’t let our son go naked much because I don’t want pee all over, but that will probably change when summer comes.

  30. I honestly never cared what anybody thought about my babies being naked in public. I definitely let them be free at the beach and sometimes I’ll take them to grocery stores nude, I just close up the stroller or put them in a bjorn so people won’t see. And I rarely put socks or shoes on them. As you can imagine their also naked in the house nearly 24-7.

  31. My mom and I are nudest. My husband is a lawyer. And also a nudest. I am a stay at home house wife. We have twins daughters age 6. My husband and I let them go nude 24/7. Also I am home schooling my daughters. We live in the country and have a privacy fence around our back yard. And our own private lake.
    They know if some one comes over or we go to town they have to get dress. We also take then to nude beaches and nudest vacation. They only been dress once during the pass summer.

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