Do you let your kids run around without clothes?

by singlemomseeking on July 17, 2009


You can watch me on the The Today Show here:

How long can kids run around naked?

‘If you can’t do it when you’re a kid, when can you do it?’ Others disagree.


It started a with a phone call from New York Times reporter Julie Scelfo. She wanted to interview me for her touchy article on “Children Without Clothes: When Do They Need a Fig Leaf?” — about kids stripping down when the weather gets hot.

That led to a call from The Today Show on my cell phone last night.

Me, thinking: “The Today Show? Are you sure you have the right number?”

Yes, I even called back, worried that I’d given out my address to some random stranger who claimed to be from The Today Show.

Sure enough, this morning, a very sweet producer and TV camera man knocked on my door. They were here for almost four hours, as Dan-the-camera-man kept telling me, “Will you please stop cleaning?”


The show airs on Monday, July 20th, at 8 a.m. (which, cough, also happens to be my birthday…).


“For many parents, allowing a child to run around naked at home is perfectly natural, an expression of physical freedom that represents the essence of childhood, especially in the summer,” Scelfo writes. “But for others, unclad bodies are an affront to civility, a source of discomfort and a potentially dangerous attraction for pedophiles.”

“Just for the record,” Scelfo added. “I tried to keep this story focused exclusively on nudity in homes–not in public, as I believe each setting raises its own set of important questions.

I’d love to know how you — both Moms and Dads — feel about letting your kids run around naked at home.

I’m intrigued by how fired up people are. Many commenters are outraged by the “poor puritanical Americans,” who insist that kids should not play at home — or in enclosed yards — in their birthday suits.

This reader at the New York Times, however, added: “It has nothing to do with making kids feel embarrassed about their bodies, it’s called being polite. Do you have to be naked to be proud of your body?”

Amy Graff from The Mommy Files, on the other hand, agreed that’s it not a big deal:

“…when it gets hot, I like to fill up the wash tub in the backyard and let my kids strip down and play in the water. It’s what I did as a kid and to me it seems perfectly normal. If only we had an apricot tree and a lawn that was long enough for a ‘slip and slide.’ ”

So, what do you think? Is it natural for young kids to run around naked — or unacceptable?


Photo by Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer July 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm

This post is great! The things that never really come up in everyday conversation and you don’t realize how strongly someone feels on the subject. Thought provoking questions and great dialogue here Rachel, that is why we love you and why you are going to be on the Today Show – congrats!

In our home we represent both sides of the argument: I love that my girls feel comfortable in their home that they feel they can strip down to themselves in whatever context that means whether it be conversation or literally strip down. Their dad freaks. I teach modesty in my home(my girls wear one piece swimsuits at the public pool but I think it is vital and very important for them to be comfortable in their own skin and to feel safe,loved, and not judged in their home where the people who love them the most are. That’s what home is! It is important that both of my girls know that they have and I love their strong legs, round baby bellies, and beautiful backs – I want them to go out into the world with their clothes on of course 🙂 but more importantly with confidence and love for themselves and all natural beauty out there with that comes empathy and genuineness!


Heather July 20, 2009 at 10:41 am

I live in San Diego or I should say east of San Diego where the heat tops 100 for July, August, September and sometimes into October. My 4 year has just started sleeping with nothing on, by her choosing. Even with the A/C on it still can be hot in our upstairs. I was worried that she would want to run around naked all the time and I would have problems with it. I learned that I have taught her correctly that her body is private. She takes swimming lessons daily and I always change her before going home. The line to the bathroom was 6 kids long so I took her out to the SUV to change her in the back. She told me loud and clear mommy make sure no one see’s my private area’s. I now am not worried about letting my child run around at home inside only naked.


Erica July 20, 2009 at 8:34 am

“Who you are in the darkest corners of your home is who you are in life.”

If this is true, I shouldn’t be allowed in public at all. 🙂

Erica´s last blog post…Mama Moron


Canadian Bald Guy July 20, 2009 at 1:47 am

I guess I’m just a prude, but I’ve never been a fan of having kids running around my house naked. I dunno…just makes me a bit uncomfortable, I guess.

I like this quote:

“It has nothing to do with making kids feel embarrassed about their bodies. Do you have to be naked to be proud of your body?”

Maybe it’s just how I was raised, but I don’t see why modesty…even in the home…is considered a bad thing.

Canadian Bald Guy´s last blog post…Loving, offspring, singing, & aging


bad mummy July 19, 2009 at 7:02 pm

The Mook loves being naked. Being summer, she usually goes to bed wearing just a pair of boxer shorts or “naked as a jaybird” (as my dad likes to put it).

Given the choice, she would also rather not wear pants around the house. And that’s fine. I’ll usually put panties on her, simply because she’s all about self-exploration and I’m trying to teach her that she can only touch her private parts in private. She gets plenty of naked time in the evening before bed and in the mornings when we are getting dressed. I’m usually naked in the morning as well.

Earlier this summer, she did enjoy some time in a public playground’s splash pad. I wasn’t prepared for it, so she had just her underwear on. Otherwise, she’s clothed in public. If people are visiting, she needs to wear a shirt and underwear.

We don’t have a yard for her to run around in, but if we did – and it were private – I wouldn’t have a problem with her being naked, as long as she’s covered in sunblock. I have great memories of running around naked in my yard as a kid.

I don’t have an age in mind of when I’ll want her to be less naked/more modest. We have a fairly open dialogue about bodies/privacy/anatomy and we are an all girl household. I suppose that she’ll want me to put clothes on more often!

bad mummy´s last blog post…Panic. Stress. Panic. Stress.


Avigail74 July 19, 2009 at 9:23 am

I’m trying really hard to be understanding and patience here but I find it difficult. I simply don’t understand the shame of naked bodies? I think our society has done a fabulous job of creating sexual issues (have you noticed that many women’s magazines place a heavy emphasis on how to have better sex?)—we have taught our girls to be ashamed of being—well—girls–we teach them how to cross their legs properly—make sure their underwear doesn’t show (oh goodness, especially when they’re on the monkey bars)—yet we want them to remain cute. Trust me, I’m a teacher, I see all of this daily and I’m not making this up.

When I breastfed my child in public—without covering up–I got many embarrassed looks–I thought breasts were served to feed our children the best nutrition possible. I refused to cover up my child’s head–my goodness—the look on her face and the look she would give me while nursing, I would NEVER trade that for anything else. I feel that because many women are ashamed of their bodies, many babies are not being breastfed.

My mother taught me to be proud of my body–she never covered herself up or made me feel ashamed. We need our women to have more pride in their bodies. However, I’m only speaking for women.

Avigail74´s last blog post…Gypsy Family


Kari July 19, 2009 at 7:16 am

My child wasn’t much of a naked kid by her own choice. Socks were gone almost all of the time, onsies were taken off and she would run in just a diaper but it never much occured to her to take the diaper off.

I’m a fan of whatever makes them comfortable. If they want to run around nakey so be it. Do you change a childs bum when they are wet/dirty in public? I did so running around nakey at the beach or something or our running in the sprinkler I just don’t get what the big deal is.

Kari´s last blog post…Weddings…


K Nelson July 18, 2009 at 11:20 pm

We don’t go totally naked at my house, but underwear only is okay first thing in the morning or to sleep in if they want.

The lack of clothing is gradually disappearing for the older kids, and the younger ones will get there.

I teach modesty, and my children dont wear revealing clothes. Still, I feel like around the house with just the family is sometimes okay (not all the time, of course… it’s not a commune! lol)

K Nelson´s last blog post…Getting what your child needs in the classroom, Step 2: Know the law


Martini Mom July 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

Heh. RIGHT after I posted my comment, my son streaked down the hallway totally naked. Way to bring the point home, kiddo!

Martini Mom´s last blog post…My kid’s in love with an older man


Martini Mom July 18, 2009 at 11:14 am

Naked is totally acceptable in my house. My son is 8 now, so he’s not as inclined to let it all hang out as he once was. But when he was younger, it was his preferred state of being in the afternoons. His modesty grew naturally as he grew, I didn’t need to teach it. Rather, I delighted in his complete lack of modesty; how comfortable and carefree he was just hanging out in his own skin.

Like T said: “Ah, childhood.”

Different rules apply in different social situations. He raises his hand to speak in class, but I certainly don’t make him do so at home. If he’s thirsty at home, he opens the fridge and pours himself a glass of juice; he wouldn’t dream of helping himself at a friend’s house. Similarly, he enjoys some naked time in the privacy of his own home, but knows that’s not appropriate in public.

Congratulations on the Today Show! I’m looking forward to it.


Priscilla San Remo July 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

I don’t have a problem with kids being naked at home or in public, in general. However, some parents aren’t so careful about drawing the line when kids reach a certain age. No matter how comfortable they are with their bodies, unfortunately it may not be considered appropriate for them to be naked with an opposite sex parent (or parent figure–ever read “The Good Mother”?) or naked in public. Context is everything, especially with public nudity.

I’ve seen everything, from city pools where even infants are changed in private, to beaches in Europe where everyone is naked and completely comfortable with it. Part of the issue with nudity in America, I think, is that it has become so sexualized. In most of Europe, kids develop a natural comfort with their bodies and can separate being undressed from being sexual. Are people who are adamantly against childhood public nudity worried that others see it as sexually charged? Do they themselves see it that way? In spite of our obsession with sex in the US, I often believe we are too repressed about it and don’t have a real sense of what is truly sexual and what isn’t. And of course, we are consumed with rules, rules, rules. Yikes!


singlemomseeking July 18, 2009 at 9:13 am

@Sassafrass, thank you for this: “To me, this is a ‘time and a place’ thing.”
I agree, although others may not…

@Laura, great to see you here. Yes, at the end of the day, it is about your own beliefs…what you “are comfortable with.”


Anna July 18, 2009 at 7:59 am

When society starts dictating what you can do inside your own home, it’s a slippery slope.

My son enjoys playing naked from time to time, and I have no problem with it. It may or may not have anything to do with his sensory issues, but who cares? As he’s grown, his “naked time” episodes have decreased.

He understands that it is not acceptable to go in public in any state of undress, and is not confused, and he has autism, so why should it be a problem for neurotypical kids who understand social cues much more easily than my guy??


Mike July 18, 2009 at 7:10 am

When Eric was young he could run around the house naked it he wanted. Outside I wouldn’t allow just for safety since our place was on the corner and their was no privacy. Inside your house, who cares. I love doing it so I’m not going to stop my kids. I just do it when I’m alone.

Mike´s last blog post…Family Visit Part 2


Barbara July 18, 2009 at 6:56 am

Wow interesting, I must live in the sticks because it honestly never occurred to me that children being naked in their own home could be something frowned upon.
I think it is totally normal, natural and healthy.

Barbara´s last blog post…Spotlight Article: Laughing and Happiness: When a child can teach an Adult


Sam July 18, 2009 at 2:26 am

An interesting and thought provoking blog (along with the comments!!).

I think that children should enjoy the fun of splashing in the paddling pool all nakey, but there are times when it is not appropriate. For instance, I was on holiday a few weeks ago and saw a little girl (possibly 3) with a t-shirt on but no undies – I did feel rather uncomfortable, but that may be more a sign of my own discomfort rather than hers – she was fine about it!!

I think that the point is that we should all feel comfortable in our own skin and not learn that the way we look is “shameful”.

Sam´s last blog post…A surfeit of information


Susan Older July 17, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Hi Rachel,

All I know is that there is some kind of force field that literally rips my kids clothes from their little bodies the very second they enter our home. I turn the key and the clothes just start flying. Shoes, jackets, t-shirts, undies, all scattered to the wind. It’s awesome how comfortable they are and how much they love being “nekked”. Modesty will come and sadly their sweet pink bodies wont be running around my house anymore. Till then, naked tushies unite!

Momma Sue


Alicia July 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Congrats on the Today Show and also Happy Birthday!!!! Wow – I guess you know you’re the turn-to expert for parenting advice!!!!

As for me and my son – no problems with nekkedness about the house. Right now he’s halfway potty trained, and being naked sort of eases that process for boys at least. Plus, I think getting fresh air “down there” is healthy – so if he banties about the place in his birthday suit, its for health’s sake! Who wants their bits and pieces trapped in a diaper all day and night???

Alicia´s last blog post…Spinning, Aerobics, or Yoga?


kristen July 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm

i’m surprised that no one else has mentioned the first thing that popped into my head – sunscreen! My 4-year-old son changes into his bathing suit in our backyard and likes to strut around naked for a bit. I eventually make him put clothes on because I don’t want him to get too much sun. As for in the house, he will run around naked. Doesn’t bother me much, unless we are running late.


jessica July 17, 2009 at 8:09 pm

course! skin is the largest organ of the body and its a SENSORY organ! that means its sending information to the brain all the time. If you are never naked then your brain is deprived of real feedback. Like soft air circulating on your skin. I pity the prudes who try to blind and dumb the skin with an endless crush of fabrics. poor tots who suffer preventable diaper rash because their butts are suffocated in diapers. Its really sad.


T July 17, 2009 at 7:54 pm


Well, if you ask me… and you know me

We all run around naked in our house.

My girls see me naked and they ask questions. Sometimes they want to sleep naked. I sleep naked occasionally when they’re here but all of the time when they’re not here.

All of it is fine with me. I remember seeing my mom naked and half the time my dad walked around the house in his tighty whities.

Ah, childhood.

My girls won’t even change clothes in the car for fear that someone will see them naked. So, its not like they don’t know when its appropriate and when its not.

Can’t wait to see you on the Today show. That’ll be just too cool for your birthday sweetie.


T´s last blog post…A real man


molly July 17, 2009 at 7:50 pm

If properly socialized with other friends and family, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon child to know the difference between how one behaves at home and how one behaves at school, work, other people’s houses, or public.

I mostly keep my clothes on at home around of my 3 year old, but she does see me naked from time to time, just like I see her naked from time to time. No big whoop.

If everyone parented like me there would be less neurosis and sexual perversion in the world.


Laura Porras July 17, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I love this post – I can’t wait to read the rest of the comments. I have a 3 1/2 year old son who loves to be naked – I think it gives him a sense of control over his body – I don’t know since I can’t ask him, but that’s the feeling I get. I also loved being naked as a youngster and don’t think it has negatively affected me as an adult. I struggled with this as he got older, but I came to the conclusion that this would be a great opportunity to teach him that we do some things in private at home and some things are okay to do in public. My feeling is that is just the way the world works…

That is my opinion of course, but I don’t think parents who do not let their kids run around naked at home are in the “wrong” – I believe it really comes down to whether or not the parents are comfortable with it – whatever their reasoning/belief is.

Either way – great post. Thanks!


Bobbi Janay July 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I don’t understand what is wrong with being naked in your own home? Ian was naked for most of the afternoon yesterday. He was in our own home, how is that wrong? Why a child is naked in their own home it is ok as long as you don’t let them go naked in public.


Jessica Ashley (Sassafrass) July 17, 2009 at 7:13 pm

I let Lil E have sanctioned nakey time. The time comes too soon when we hide our bodies away and become filled with shame or overwhelmingly aware of our flaws. Some of that is sure to come. For now, though, while the sheer bliss of being in his birthday suit is still in him, I feel absolutely fine letting him jump off the couch, streak through the hallway and lay on his bed reading books, all nakey. It’s not only fun for him, it is a bit freeing for me to be reminded how happy it can be to be so comfortable in one’s own skin.

To me, this is a “time and a place” thing — a joyfully sanctioned time in our very own place.


MindyMom July 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm

None of my four kids have ever felt the desire to run around anywhere in their birthday suits.

My youngest, who is four, will often take off her P.J.’s in the morning to be “nakey” but she keeps her underwear on and I wouldn’t allow it otherwise.

My personal choice is to teach my kids modesty. The exception to that would be in the bathroom where my kids (all girls) see me naked all the time, like after a shower or while getting dressed as they come in to talk to me for whatever reason. Also my youngest often showers with me (it’s so much easier than giving her a bath).

I do agree with Fred in that the lessons we teach our kids about what’s appropriate and what’s not out in the world, start at home.

MindyMom´s last blog post…Taking a Soul Vacation


Amy Anderson July 17, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Thank you Fred…I needed a really good laugh today. My goal is to raise a child that “other people enjoy”. That was fantastic. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. If you are happy with yourself others are naturally drawn to you. I want my child to be a person SHE enjoys. No matter come what may, if she doesn’t love herself how will anyone else?

I guess I am one of those wacky loose, liberal single mothers who wants her child to be self confident, self sufficient, independant, proud of herself, successful, smart, funny, and sometimes free to be NAKKEEED.

I run around naked in my home some of the time, my washer/dryer is not in a convenient place and I have been known not to put away the laundry straight out of the dryer (ooooh so shocking).

My parents have been married 40 years, the make a fantastic living, they vote EVEN vote republican. I occassionally witnessed them running around a bit half dressed. They are healthy, they are fit, they are deeply in love with each other and their kids. So far I am healthy wealthy and wise…oh yeah and I am SUPER happy, so is my child and even when we are bare bones naked!


Lauren July 17, 2009 at 6:13 pm

At home — sure, why not? My sister and I ran around naked all the time (and we have a countless number of photos to prove it). I let my daughter (15 months old) run around naked for a little bit every evening, and I’d let her go a lot longer if it weren’t for the accident cleanup afterward.


Fred Campos / FullCustodyDad July 17, 2009 at 5:56 pm

No cannot allow it, no exceptions–period. One of the goals of parenting is “to raise children that are healthy, wealthy, and wise that OTHER people enjoy.” The key word there is OTHER people.

We must take into consideration the preciousness of others. Probably one of the most important parenting lessons, whether be children or adults, is to be “others” focused. With that in mind, I know too many people who would be offended by a nude child in public. Since the lessons we learn at home are always reflected in life, we practice modesty every place but in the shower. Who you are in the darkest corners of your home is who you are in life.

Children know this VERY well. Therefore there are no double standards. More is caught than taught. How can we expect our children to act differently in public than they do at home if we do not practice consistency in both places all the time? That’s like trying to say you are not a smoker, just because you don’t smoke in your home, but do everywhere else. So unless you come from a South African tribe that doesn’t normally wear clothes, I expect you to have those fig leaves in place, especially on your kids!

Fred Campos / FullCustodyDad´s last blog post…Get a School/PTA Volunteer Job. Tip #141


singlemomseeking July 17, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Fred, thank you so much for your comment. As a parent, you do know what’s best for your kids.

I appreciate this question: “How can we expect our children to act differently in public than they do at home — if we do not practice consistency in both places all the time?”

However, I do know that home for many kids is often a place to really “be yourself,” which can also having a good cry or talking about something that might be too embarrassing to share in class.

I’m curious to hear what others think.


Amy Anderson July 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm

When Hailey was 18 months we moved from Seattle to Hawaii. Naked was the easiest way to go with all that heat and sand.

When we returned to Seattle she was 3 1/2 naked in our house was still the norm for her.

It’s still just her and I. She just turned 9 so obviously she’s a bit more modest than she was but when it’s really hot we do both sleep almost naked. There isn’t air conditioning in most apartments in Seattle.

I am proud of my body and I want her to be proud and aware of hers as well. If she’s more comfortable naked (or half naked) then in the privacy of our home it’s perfectly ok with me.


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