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When Should You Stop Letting Your Kids Run Naked?

At What Age Should Kids Stay Fully Clothed in Public?

One thing moms learn really fast is that little kids can't keep their clothes on. From the time they are 4 months old or so and start kicking or pulling off their booties, to toddlerhood, when they like to strip down and race around in their birthday suits, young kids prefer to be in the buff.

It's great fun in the summertime, when it's easy to let your kids splash through the sprinklers or play in the pool in the backyard sans bathing suits and cumbersome shorts and T's. But is it OK to let kids be seen naked at the beach or in public? At what age does it become taboo? Those are questions many Circle of Moms members start to wonder as their little ones get bigger.

Keep reading.

Is 4 the Magic Number?

Some moms, like Rori C, believe that running around naked is a rite of passage, but that it becomes an issue when kids start getting closer to school age — 4 or 5 years old. "I just let my toddler son run around carefree and naked while at home or in the privacy of our backyard," she says. "Granted, we live in Tucson, AZ and it's 118 during the summer. As long as it's just at home, I'm not going to worry too much until he gets a little older, and hopefully, by the time he is 4 he'll have outgrown this phase," she adds.


Becky S. agrees, saying all three of her children loved to strip down and run around but that when they got to be about 4 years old, she insisted they stayed clothed. But beware, she warns: "The next phase will be them changing their outfits three times a day."

Experts at The National Child Traumatic Stress Network agree, saying it's perfectly normal for very young and preschool-aged children (ages 4 or younger) to want to take off their clothes as they are naturally immodest. But, according to a NCTSN report, as children age and interact more with other children (about ages 4 to 6), they become more aware of the differences between boys and girls and it becomes time to make sure they're covered up or wearing clothes.

But, as many Circle of Moms members point out, much depends on where their children are when they're naked or running around with minimal clothing on. "Backyard, sure," says Kate C. "I'd let my kids run around naked in the backyard. But after they're out of diapers, then I don't think it's really appropriate to encourage them to run around with nothing but undies on. Just panties are a bit too bare for me."

Is Public Nudity Always Inappropriate?

Other Circle of Moms members say little children should not be naked in public under any circumstances. Carisa V. says it becomes a real issue in her family during summertime gatherings when the cousins get together and some of the little kids run around in their diapers or sans clothes. "My brother-in-law has real issues with nudity," she says. "His daughter is 9 months old and he cannot let her sit around in a diaper. He wouldn't even let my sister-in-law take bath pictures. I told him he was in for a shock when she turned 3 and wouldn't keep her clothes on. He said he would chase her around with clothes. I know it's terrible, but I just can't wait to watch."

Lacye says she too feels adamantly that little kids should not run around in public naked — at any age. "Personally I wouldn't let my daughter run around outside naked or even in her underwear," she says. "It's not because I'm afraid of pedophiles, but because that was how I was raised. When I was younger, you didn't go outside unless you had clothes on, and what I mean is more than just panties. I would have on my shorts and T-shirt. As for people saying it depends on the weather, I live in Mississippi and the weather gets to be about 104 in the summer with a heat index of 110 — and I still make sure her clothes are on."

Some Circle of Moms members say that the child's gender should be considered alongside their age. "I was raised in the back country where the little boys ran without even a diaper on," shares Kimberly E.

At what age do you think kids need to keep their clothes on?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Image Source: Shutterstock
Join The Conversation
RavenTrue1379909906 RavenTrue1379909906 3 years
Come on guys the Enlightenment was 250 years ago. The Ice Age was 10,000 years ago. Let the cultural lag pass. Kids like to be naked because it's natural for humans. My nine year old swims in the buff at home, or when in California or places where people are not so uptight. At naturalist retreats or in the wilds of Cali, it's quite normal to see whole families at the Hot Springs etc totally natural. No 100$ swim suits required. That being said, you will not see a naked adolescent anywhere on this planet. It's like they have an internal censoring mechanism. They're just bodies.
Hillary558 Hillary558 3 years
LauraZoeyBlack LauraZoeyBlack 5 years
I don't let anyone see my childrens privates, I feel as their mom it's my job to protect them until they can do so themselves and this includes protecting their decency. I wouldn't let my grandma with Alzheimer's wander around nude just because she felt no shame, so neither would I do that ith my babies or young kids. Ichange their diapers in private and I don't ask others to change their diapers. I feel it's a matter of protecting their decency so after their birth, I try to keep them covered always.
AlisonKlein AlisonKlein 5 years
It is never O.K. for anyone to be naked in public at any age. I am a firm believer in treating my children as I would treat an adult and not being hypocritical with them. If they can be naked in public, then so can everyone else, and let's be honest, nobody wants to live in an all naked world. That said, Our home is not a public place. My daughter is 2 1/2 and loves to be naked. She is free to be as naked as she wants inside the house, but knows to put on pants when someone comes over. Outside, I insist she wears at least some pants or shorts, just because our neighbors houses are so close. When she was younger, I would allow her outside in only a diaper.
CeciliaWarnberg CeciliaWarnberg 5 years
Why cant kids be kids? My 5 year old girl ran naked on tve beach this summer. In Sweden kids are allowed to be kids...
darlavelez darlavelez 6 years
my children are little nudists. I have 5 y/o triplets and while they are home i don't mind them being in just their underwear, however if they want to go outside and play they must wear clothes. Also, if we go out in public.
carolinerowley carolinerowley 6 years
My daughter is 4 and half and quite often after her evening bath she will run around the house naked I have no problems in our own garden with close family and friends but I think public places are a different matter and children should be kept clothed
CandidaCumbie CandidaCumbie 6 years
My son who is now 6 loved to just have his diaper on when he was little, just like most babies. I usually would at least have shorts on him out in public. Now, using the bathroom outside in public was another issue. If he had to go at the park or in a area where there wasn't a bathroom near by, i let him go behind a tree. I supervised of course and even now in emergencies, I'm his shield from "wandering eyes" if necessary. Of course if he can hold it and there is a bathroom near by, he uses that. I do agree, in our society parents should be more on the cautious side and not have children out butt naked in public, at the very least, cover their private parts.
NicoleScheible NicoleScheible 6 years
I think it's fine to have them run around naked until 3 or 4 either gender in public swimming pools, beach or backyard. I live in Europe and it's not so "strict" here. Nevertheless, I find it inappropriate to allow them to get undress if you are visiting somewhere. The neighbor girl (3) used to do that when she visited here and her Mom was only laughing. That's for me a no go and should be stopped.
MelDriver MelDriver 6 years
My daughter is 5 in October and only has just started asking to get dressed in changerooms after her swimming lesson. All kids are different. Why force them.
heathertite79733 heathertite79733 6 years
My oldest Son is 7 with Down syndrome. he runs around in the house naked whenever he can. my other son 3 will as well but only when the older child gets him caught up in it thinking that it's fun to do. now would you tell your special needs child to keep his clothes on all the time and try to have him be independant as well. it's tough. you'd be repeating yourself constantly for months on end. I just got my boys potty trained this past winter vacation. yes they run around the house naked. but when we're outside in the backyard with the pool set up i try to make sure they at least have shorts on all times. occassionally he still tries to strip down outside but i'm trying to be firm on at least shorts have to be on or underwear. yes it's tougher with a Down syndrome child but you just have to be firmer with them. He's hating all the timeouts but it's starting to get into his head for outside at least. inside the house is another story and a lot more problems for me. i'll leave it at that for now though.
ClaudiaKlein ClaudiaKlein 6 years
I would not let my 2 years old son go outside naked or in underwear; personally, I think it isn't appropiate and safe. He is young; but, he need to learn there are limits in our lifes. The weather doesn't matter, I live in Wi where is cold and grew up in Panamá where is hotttt, he need to have clothes on, just like everybody else.
SarahBriley90754 SarahBriley90754 6 years
I have a girl who is six and a boy who is three. My daughter still sleeps mostly in panties. She sleeps hot and it is the most comfortable for her. If we have no where to go my son usually only wears his underware. But this is how I was raised.
LisaMarieMarie LisaMarieMarie 6 years
i don't think we should inflict our cultural prudeness on our free-spirited children. let them be naked! in most other countries of the world it's more than acceptable and there is likely far less child porn and molestation in those countries b/c they are not so repressed!
JenniferPlatt47370 JenniferPlatt47370 6 years
None of my boys were strippers. They kept their clothes on. I didn't have to worry about it. When I potty-trained them, I let them go without any pants, diapers etc but they still had on t-shirts. Even now with swimming they would rather keep a t-shirt on so going naked was not an issue for us. I think if children learn to keep their clothes from the beginning, it is not an issue later.
TiffanyNicoleReed TiffanyNicoleReed 6 years
I have 2 girls ages 4 & 3. No way would i let them be exposed in public. I tried to be discreet even when changing their diapers. At home I will allow them to run around in panties & a long t-shirt until company comes then they must put on pants. I have never let them just sit around in only a diaper, I have always had a t-shirt on them at the least. I have a younger brother & when we were growing up never did we see one another without clothes. Of course my brother may not have had a shirt but I never saw him in his underwear or boxers & he never saw me without a bra (I have VERY large breasts). Its called respect. I feel allowing your kids to be exposed escpecially to the public is inviting something awful to happen. Yes, terrible things can still happen no matter what, but its not wise to invite it.
SusannaSilvennoinen SusannaSilvennoinen 6 years
In my country in Northern Europe, it is normal for kids and adults to be naked in the sauna and showers of public swimming pools. Nothing is thought about going to sauna with our parents, siblings and children in the nude. In my mind this is perfectly normal, and I must wonder where all these peeping perverts are coming from: families where naked bodies are normal and everyday, or those where everything must always be covered up and hidden! My kids are 1 and 3, and wear whatever I tell them to wear. When we have kids over to swim, mine will undress if the other kids are naked. And I will let them do whatever feels natural for them.
JenniferSchumacher JenniferSchumacher 6 years
My son never did the "lets strip" phase. The most naked he ever really was was a diaper and t-shirt or just after bath for a minute before we got the clothes back on. We did do nearly naked for a potty training crash course when he wasn't getting it. Generally I think if you make clothes normal all the time from infancy they are less likely to randomly surprise you by taking it all off. I also thinks the same goes for throwing food: 1st throw resulted in prompt removal of my sons plate. Hence he didn't learn throwing food made mommy run around but it resulted in getting his food taken away (not for long don't worry). Start early with modesty and it will make the transition easier... samething for girls and skirts. Teacher them right early or they'll still sit like boys at prom!
MelissaIrvin72624 MelissaIrvin72624 6 years
To each his own i guess. I don't allow mine to be naked in public, but that's my decision and my parenting style. Different strokes for different folks. I do however let our 3 year old son have about 15 minutes of "nakin" time after a bath to get it out of his system. But it's within the confines of home. But like I said each of our parenting styles differ I'm sure :) and don't think any less of a person for doing differently or thinking differently than I do.
CoMMember13631152946882 CoMMember13631152946882 6 years
i.e., resisting the urge to project our own issues onto them
CoMMember13631152946882 CoMMember13631152946882 6 years
LOL @ " may sound prissy but humans are made for clothes"...I'm pretty sure it was the other way around. My opinion is that it's our job as parents to teach our children how to thrive in society, not just their own homes. In American society, we do not have nude beaches and, overall, nudity is still very taboo. Yes, pedophiles exist, but they are not just hanging out waiting to happen upon a naked child....they are in front of you in the grocery check out line; they are at the park. A pedophile doesn't need to see a child naked to get off on the thoughts they have, so it's very naive for parents to use that as a reason to keep their kids clothed. Keep them clothed in public because that's how our society functions. Keep them clothed because clothing protects them from the elements. Our backyard is fenced, so if my 3 y/o son decides to shed his Pull Up and run around like a naked jay bird, so what?? If other children are present, then I might be a little quicker to get him back in his pull up/ shorts, but when it's just us, I honestly can't find one single reason to make a big deal of it. I think this issue is much deeper than just kids...Americans have hangups, period. Nudity is at the top of the list. Regardless of how I feel about it, I am raising my children to function in this society, but I certainly don't make comments that would cause them to feel ashamed of their bodies or paranoid about pedophiles. We've gotta remember to do what's best for our kids, and that sometimes includes things outside our comfort level.
RachelHill RachelHill 6 years
I was raised in Europe and at the beach, kids at preschool age and younger would go naked; I thought it was because they were topless beaches! Why would anyone feel the need to have their children naked in public in the first place? I dont' like it when parents only put on a diaper to go to the store, or not put shoes on their children. I saw a 5 year old boy once in the store with just a diaper on. Diaper, 5 years old. At home, of course anything goes, it's your home. But in public, it makes no sense.
AngelaThomas57089 AngelaThomas57089 6 years
What you want to do at home is your business, but in public put clothes on your kid!!
BrendaOlwagen BrendaOlwagen 6 years
I agree with Angela...definitely an American perspective (British too? Definitely South African as well. Perhaps it's most common in previous British colonies?). We lived in Scandinavia for a number of years and nudity was perceived as very natural - men and women sauna together naked, women openly breastfeed in public. Similar to Poland, girls don't wear bathing suit tops until much older and kids change together in their classroom for gym / phys ed. What this teaches kids is that our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of (one elss thing to stress about because everyone has one!), that everyone looks the same and yet different and that these differences are natural. What children learn from covering up at a young age is shame - cringing when having to change in front of others in a single sex change room because their bodies cause them so much embarrassment. They also learn that the body of the opposite sex is such a total mystery that the only way to attempt to discover about it is in inappropriate ways - hiding away together and exposing themselves to each other, early exposure to pornography, having sex way too young. And the biggest thing children do not learn from being covered up at a young age is that there is so much variation to the human body, all of which is perfectly normal - the result of not knowing this is the belief that "normal" is looking like a magazine or runway model, or like a porn star, and consequently that there must be something wrong with them for looking less than perfect (the shame and cringing spoken about earlier). It also creates unrealistic expectations from future partners and relationships because they too do not look "perfect", resulting in never being happy or satisfied with any member of the opposite sex who hasn't had plastic surgery. I'm sure the Scandinavians and Europeans are so much more respectful of the body, so comfortable in their skins and have less stress in their lives because they didn't cover up too young. What's appropriate definitely depends on your perspective. The question is, what outcome do you want from your perspective?
ShawnahJohnston ShawnahJohnston 6 years
In continuation from almost 4 yr old son LOVES being naked, inside, outside..doesn't matter. I have no problem with this. We live in Florida and it can get pretty hot and muggy down here. As for outside, as long as he is not in the sandbox he can be naked. I just don't want to accidentally miss something and have him get an infection down there (talk about painful!). As for being in public, as long as he has shorts on...we're good. It's just not sanitary to be naked in a grocery store. :) @Brooke - YES! My son did the same thing about a year ago we were at the store and he called out "That one has Boobies!" good lord...
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