Google+ Authentic Parenting: Birthday Suit Bandit – The Toddler and Undressing

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday Suit Bandit – The Toddler and Undressing

written by Karen Du Toit


I am an older mom, who had my second child after 15 years, over the age of 40. It has been a whole new experience all over again. We live in South Africa in an urban setting. You can’t believe how much things have changed in 15 years with regards parenting. Now we have information at our fingertips (Internet), where I used to have only magazines, books and off course family and friends. We are able to make informed decisions, but we also have so much more options to choose from...

My toddler, Mieka, loves getting rid of her clothes. She is now 21 months. She has one word “AF” (Afrikaans for “off”) that covers it all. The clothes must come off! We let her run around in the nude in the house. I work during the day, and the toddler is at day care. So it is only early evenings and over weekends that she has the opportunity to undress.  

It is even better when she can zip or unbutton the clothes, and try and put it back on. To immediately take it off again…

We live in urban Johannesburg, so she cannot roam naked outside in our townhouse complex. I am also struggling with the idea. Somehow it makes me uncomfortable. Especially when she starts exploring with her fingers... On this side of the world we are not as open with regards nakedness. 
But we ignore, or redirect to other games… (Which I know is the correct way of handling it!)

We try not to inhibit this behaviour, and hope that our own inhibitions won’t rub off on her. It is the most natural thing in the world; being in your own skin! (So I believe!)

I also think that it is a great way to potty train. She learns about her body and how it behaves…

We also give her positive feedback about her body when she is naked.
“Look at your beautiful stomach!” Etc. She loves walking up to the mirror to look at her own reflection with us giving her more positive words of encouragement. The look on her face when it opens up into a smile says it all!

I had a look on the Internet, and apparently this is very common behaviour for toddlers. Baby Zone calls it “birthday suit bandits”, which is a very cute term! I am lending it for this post.

I am being taught new things every day by my toddler. We as adults are only there to make it possible for them to grab each opportunity with inquisitive interest and to create a safe space for them to do so. The same with undressing – as long as it happens in a safe environment which we have to ensure. Toddlers need enough space and time to go through each phase in their development.

About Karen:
I am an older working mom, with a toddler of 21 months. I got remarried again 6 years ago. I have a teen of 17 from a previous marriage. We live in urban Johannesburg in South Africa. We are enjoying our new mixed family life, especially with the toddler who makes us look at life in new ways.




  1. loved this! my and my husband's almost 4 yr. old loves the nakedness too! It's how we got her to potty train. My family isn't so fond of the idea of her running around our close apartment naked...we always make sure she's clothed when we leave the house, but want to give her that freedom in her own home! I don't want her to have the body image/insecurity issues that I had/have! I plan on allowing our younger daughter (2) run butt naked too if she wants too!!! thank you for sharing!

  2. haha in our house, its not so much taking the clothes off that's the issue, but not wanting to put them on. "No clothes mommy!" "No shirt!" "No Shoes!" "No Pants!" etc etc when we're trying to get dressed in the morning. If we're inside, I'll let my 2 year old run around naked, but it's getting cold here in Maine, so she has to get dressed to go outside and I usually have to pretty much force those first layers on. The jacket is an easy "choice" moment for her. Do you want to put your jacket on to go outside, or do you want to stay inside?

    It's definitely a trying time for us as parents, but it's a fun developmental stage for our little ones.


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