Kids Should Be Allowed to Run Naked in Public

Jacqueline Burt Cote

girl on beachAs far as toddlers are concerned, the summer is one big naked party. Think about it: If we weren't so self-conscious and/or worried about getting arrested, we'd be stripping down, too. Clothes are lame.

Of course, this philosophy is all well and good when you're at home or splashing around in the kiddie pool in your backyard, but what about when your toddler starts disrobing at the playground? Or the beach? Or in line at the grocery store? There definitely comes a time when naked kid in public = not cool. But when?

What's funny is that parents and non-parents both have opinions about why toddlers need to cover up at a certain point, but they're completely different: Childless types tend to be grossed out about the less-than-hygienic implications of some kid's bare bottom sharing their beach blanket space; those with children are usually more preoccupied with the issue of "are there any nearby pedophiles checking out my 2-year-old?"

My personal set of rules regarding public nudity when my kids were toddlers was pretty simple: Topless is fine for either gender up until the age of 3 or 4 (obviously, boys get to play this card for their entire lives), but diapers/undies/pants are generally a must with the exception of quick changes (usually involving a bathing suit). Why didn't I let them run around outside naked as jaybirds? Well, mostly because like the childless adult contingent mentioned above, I was worried about cooties -- less about my children spreading germs to strangers, though, and more about icky contagions sneaking up into their exposed bits and pieces.

I mean, come on, would you sit naked on a park bench? You know that's a gyno appointment waiting to happen.

What's your policy on toddlers and nudity?


Image via Robert Wallace/Flickr

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