How To Deal With Baby's Desire To Wear No Clothes
One thing you can guarantee about your baby when she is born, and that is she will have no clothes on; she will be naked. There will be no shock horror amongst the people in the delivery room when the baby makes her grand entry into the human world with its social practices and stigma.
You cannot get a more natural state than a baby with no clothes on, and it's a state you will find your baby likes to revert to sometimes as she gets a bit older. That, too, is perfectly natural. However, most modern societies frown upon open nudity, and it is normal for all people to be fully dressed, at least once they emerge from the privacy of their home; and that includes babies.
If you consider it from the baby's point of view, though, she does not quickly understand social stigma. She likes comfort, and if it's warm, it can be ideal for her to play with no clothes on at all; or so she thinks. So, in the home or in the garden on a warm summer's day, babies can be quite happy playing in the nude. This starts often at about fourteen months old, and is completely normal; in fact, if you are lucky it could help with potty training. But then you also have to deal with the baby's introduction to social norms; what is acceptable and what is not, and in what situations. How, then, should a new parent deal with a naked toddler?
It is best not to discourage this behaviour entirely. As with many aspects of bringing up a baby you should set limits about where and when your toddler can be naked, and then enforce them. It is tedious, but repeatedly re-dressing your toddler may be the best way to get the message across that having clothes on is now the norm, rather than nakedness.
In practice, this is really not that difficult to do. By encouraging babies to take an interest in their clothes from a very young age, they may start to enjoy being dressed up and looking different. Our baby daughter loved getting dressed in new clothes long before she was a year old, and it was not long before she was checking her new look in the mirror. If you buy new clothes, make a fuss of her when she tries them on; my wife always says 'show Dada' when our toddler is trying on something new. She comes to me with a beaming smile to model her new outfit.
That sort of encouragement with clothes will teach the baby to appreciate them, leaving less scope for any insistence to be naked all the time. When they do want to be naked, or when you're tired of changing them because they've urinated in their pants twice in 10 minutes, then just keep it totally relaxed, as if it is the most natural thing in the world; which of course it is. You do not want to make a child feel ashamed of their body; that is not what discipline is about. It is about a steady and relaxed learning of what is allowed and when.
Exactly what is acceptable will vary from country to country. Here in the Philippines adults tend to be coy in public about their bodies, because by and large it is a very conservative country. Yet baby and infant nakedness will not raise an eyebrow if around the home and garden. It is seen and regarded as natural, and is more easily accepted than back in England. You really have to take into account what your social norm is where you live.
Just in case some visitors may be uncomfortable with a boisterous nude infant giving them a hug, it is probably best to ensure baby is dressed for visitors. Your toddler may be comfortable with their naked time, but friends and neighbours may not be. Use your child's new found freedom to encourage them to choose their own clothing. In fact, they make the decision themselves. Our baby girl got into the habit, at about 19 months, of pointing at what she wanted to wear. Now, at 21 months and in a bed instead of a crib, we may go in to her in the morning and find her wardrobe has been emptied, and all her clothes being sorted on the bed. Well, at least she is showing an interest in clothes!
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is not to allow your discipline about clothing become about your child's body. It is easy to make your sensitive baby feel ashamed of their naked body, even if you do not intend to do so. This kind of discomfort can go a long way in determining how your growing child will feel about their body in the longer term, right up into adulthood.
About the author:
This baby care article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner author of the baby website, http://www.bouncing-new-baby.comAbly assisted by his baby daughter, he is also responsible for the Baby Blog, http://feeds.feedburner.com/bouncing-new-baby/RVnf
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