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Our 1 1/2 year old daughter keeps wanting us to take her clothes off. She'll keep wailing until someone does. She'll try to take them off herself. I'm worried that she'll just want to be naked all the time - even when we're outside or company is over.

Why does she want to be naked? Is this a behavior I should accept, encourage, or discourage? Is this something I should be worried about?

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Tell her that we don't have to take our clothes off to have a good time :) – SQB Feb 17 '14 at 20:45
up vote 18 down vote accepted

Being naked is fun...for children. It can be very freeing.

However, I understand your concern. I think most children go through some period of this desire (my children often want to sleep naked).

There is nothing wrong with a child being naked but this must have limits. I taught my children about private areas very early and I would insist that your child keep her diaper/underpants on at all times. Simply say to her "privates are private". She won't understand your words at first, but you would be surprised how fast the understanding will come. Your other concern, outside and with company, must also be taught to her. We behave differently with family, we behave differently in our house then at other times. While your body is beautiful there are appropriate times to be naked and with company and outside is not one of them.

I understand that your daughter is very young and won't understand all of that, but she can learn appropriate and inappropriate behavior. This is your opportunity to teach her both a love for her body and modesty at the same time-run with it

By the way: I use appropriate language with my children from the begining. (your vagina is private). I would use the word modesty (we actually use the Hebrew/Jewish law word for modesty with our children). There is always the good privates are private line as well.

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It is perfectly normal - in our garden in the summer my kids were still running round naked at 6 or 7 years old, but by that age they have enough personal modesty that they put clothes back on if we have visitors.

At 1 1/2, they just don't have that sense of modesty so you have to find a way of being their modesty filter for them, without making them feel that nakedness is wrong or dirty. So it can be very difficult. I like @morah's "Privates are private" line - wish I'd heard that when the kids were younger - but what I did was just talk to them about when things were appropriate, for an 18 month old it can be appropriate pretty much any time round the house (as long as they are toilet trained :-) but they understood that the same wasn't true when out shopping or in a restaurant, for example.

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Although it is perfectly normal, if it continues and spreads to other tactile issues, I would watch it closely. There are some issues, such as ASD that can be indicated by tactile issues. I think we all have things that we don't like touching - sticky, dirty, itchy, etc. but if there is an excessive amount of issues like that in addition to wanting to be naked, talk with your pediatrician. If it is just a love of being free and it is not cold, I think the other comments cover it quite well.

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+1 for looking beyond the surface. – Paul Cline Dec 20 '11 at 17:26

Just adding to the chorus...clothes, for the most part, suck!

Our 10 year old still will often come in the house after school and the first thing he does is strip to his underwear.

Now that I work at home, even as an adult, there are many days that I'm wearing the same. ;)

So, that doesn't help solve your problem, but hopefully reassures you that there is nothing abnormal about the behavior.

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Lots of good answers to the clothing part, but I would like to add some additional stuff about the 'wailing until someone does it' part.

18 months, for both my kids, were the start of their independence and really attempting to communicate. She has discovered a desire or need (to take her clothes off) and a way to communicate it (wailing).

It may only marginally be about taking the clothes off, and more about being understood.

We have been somewhat successful in using 'the fast food rule' from Happiest Toddler on the Block, where you repeat their statement/need first (like in a fast food place), and then go on:

Sweetie, I know you want to take all your clothes off, but you have to wear them since we have guests.

Or whatever explanation you may want to use. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, but at 18 months she is right at the age where she just want to be understood.

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My daughter started with shoes and socks being removed at 4 months and would throw them out of the car window or out of her stroller or in the supermarket...didn't matter; she clearly didn't want shoes and socks. I found open-toed sandals for her age that she actually will wear almost all of the time. However, now at 18 months she is the epitome of "run free", naked at every turn. She was always a good sleeper and slept all night but now she has started waking in the middle of the night and removing everything, including her diaper. She can get herself out of any clothing I have tried - nothing is working! She will take off everything but she will leave those sandals on! A couple of things I determined:

  1. There were a few major changes in her life. The biggest was her formerly absent father showed up one day and has been around her - which he had not been for 14-15 months.

  2. She has limited social activity with children her own age. This I notice is part of the problem because I noted that she is worse when she returns from an outside activity with s group of children - she clearly needs more socialization with kids her own age group.

  3. We took in my eldest daughters dog and I also noted that in her mind he doesn't wear clothes so why should she?! If I put a sweater on the dog, my daughter keeps her clothes on. What I understand is major changes do affect little ones and I have to be cognizant of this.

I have begun having her help pick her clothing and mine, and watch me dress, so she understands it's part of a routine. Not just hers but mine as well.

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Hey D. Wayne! Welcome to Thanks for sharing with us and taking the time to write - unfortunately I can't really see an answer in your post. Please familiarize yourself with the rules on answering questions here. – Dariusz Jun 11 '15 at 11:42
@D.Wayne, thanks for this helpful analysis, and welcome! – aparente001 Jun 14 '15 at 23:12

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