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I Feel Awkward Undressing in Front of My Toddler

By Beth Anne Ballance |

Is it time to throw in the towel on just the towel?

This past week, I hopped out of the shower with a towel wrapped around me and started pulling my clothes out of drawers while Harrison played cars on the floor.  Then I dropped the towel and started putting on my underthings and while I was stepping into my Jockeys, Harrison looked up and laughed.  AT MY BOOBS.

He pointed and laughed and then stood up to point and try to grab them.  TO GRAB MY BOOBS, PEOPLE.  I quickly clutched my shirt to my chest and said, “Oh, no.  Those aren’t for you, buddy.”  Because let’s face the truth — boobs are new to him.  I didn’t nurse him, so it’s not like he sees them as a food group or a comfort.  Maybe they’re more commonplace for a toddler that’s still nursing, but for him they’re a foreign object on Momma’s chest that he doesn’t see on himself or Daddy.

So that got me wondering — is it time to stop getting naked in front of him?  Do I need to start being modest in front of my toddler?

What age does it become inappropriate to be naked in front of your child?

The last memory I have of my mom being naked in front of me is fuzzy and I think I was maybe three at best (I have several early two-years-old memories).  I NEVER remember seeing my father out of clothing or my brothers.  I grew up in a very modest house where I got the “talk” when I was ten that it was no longer appropriate to wrap myself in just a towel between the bathroom and my bedroom when there were three boys in the house.

I wore a bathrobe in college and I found myself wondering the other day if I should put one on as my nightgown was cut low and short.

Harrison is obviously starting to notice the differences between boys and girls, between mommies and daddies.  It’s natural for him to be curious and I respect that and don’t want to treat my body like it’s something to be ashamed of or hidden, but I do want to set correct boundaries between myself and him.  The truth is that I doubt I’d be feeling this same way if he was a girl, but then again, it might be my husband wondering if it was time he covered up.

Thoughts on this?

Is anyone else starting to feel that weirdness or am I just an overly-modest prude?


More from BA:

Pool safety for toddlers from a lifeguard.

Are your girly-parts still hurting?

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures on The Heir to Blair.
You can also find her on the TwittersFacebook

 

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About Beth Anne Ballance

bethanne

Beth Anne Ballance

Beth Anne Ballance is a born and bred Southern Belle, blogging at okay, ba and using words and pictures to celebrate the challenges of motherhood and the joy of life. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Beth Anne's latest posts →

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29 thoughts on “I Feel Awkward Undressing in Front of My Toddler

  1. Alyssa says:

    My mom was never shy with us about being naked and I am the same way with my son. I think it is important to teach them to be comfortable with their bodies. My husband is the same way. My son is 2 now, maybe in a few years I might feel differently, but for now I don’t plan to change.

  2. Robyn says:

    I nursed Sam for about a month before the super PPD seriously took over and it became just one more thing to deal with rather than something I enjoyed doing. Anyway, that aside, my son started coming up and grabbing my boobs and saying “boob” when he was around 1 (he’s 2 months younger than harry). I think he got it from his Dad because his Dad has never been shy about objectifying me in front of our son, which I don’t really appreciate, but that’s a story for another day. The other day he opened up a plastic Easter egg and put it to his chest and yelled “boobs!”…same thing when we pass the bra section in any store.

    All of that to say I’ve stopped being nude in front of my toddler at all costs a long time ago, but that’s because he became very perceptive, very early and I was uncomfortable with it. Another thing I’m not sure where he got it from…one day he pointed at my girlie bits and said “Sambo” as if he remembered that’s where he came from!

  3. Kodi says:

    My oldest, Manning, and Harry are close to the same age. Manning is potty training so he’s become very curious about body parts etc. I’ve explained to him the difference between boys and girls and I decided it’s time to be covered up. I don’t want his earliest memory to be of me naked. ::shudder::

  4. Christina says:

    We’re like at anatomy level nudity comfort here. My kids are nude most of the time and I’m absolutely NOT modest and don’t think I need to be about my top half. I don’t walk around bottomless… they both know that boys have a penis, girls have a vagina, they’ve caught a glimpse of mine in the shower but I don’t showcase it for them to analyze or compare to their own parts.
    However, I do think in this overly sensitive to boobs being strictly for sexual use and aesthetics but just a body part.
    granted in your mind ” these are not for you buddy” is only because you didn’t nurse.. but technically, design wise and biologically that is WHAT they are SUPPOSED to be used for, so I wouldn’t go wrapping up and hiding or he will be obsessed with what is taboo. It’s just a boob.. it’s your body and I would make less of a deal about hiding them and just tell him these are my boobs. That’s about all. You might be overthinking this one

  5. bunnytwenty says:

    My family was definitely casual about nudity (I mean, doors weren’t closed if people were peeing), and I didn’t find any of it remotely embarrassing until I was at least 7 or 8. Your child is only going to think it’s weird and embarrassing, when he’s this young, if you overtly demonstrate that you think it’s weird and embarrassing.

  6. Babe_Chilla says:

    This is interesting. I feel almost no shame in front of my daughter, mind you she’s younger than Harry. However, my hubs has a different feeling. It’s the grabbing that is the issue. I mean, I think she should see and know, and I don’t think there is any shame in being nude around your child. My mother was rarely if ever concerned with that. Geeze I still see her nude sometimes. However, there does need to be boundaries and you have to be comfortable as well as Harry. I don’t think covering yourself from head to toe is necessary but, consciousness about what and how he sees your body is up to you to determine. I think as long as you don’t scream “DON’T LOOK AT MY BODY” or something equally likely to cause long term confusion, whatever you decide is fine.

    As you said, you grew up in a more modest home. I did not. I am happy to be topless in front of my kid, and I nursed for a year so most of my friends have seen them too. However, as mentioned above, my kid likes to grab – at me and the hubs. That we had to put a stop to. We continue to discuss personal space and private areas, but don’t hide them like they are some secret.

    Just do what you feel comfortable with, and what makes sense in your type of home. And I have NO idea how I would feel if my child was a boy.

  7. neal says:

    I’m a man, and my two-year-old is a girl, and since I care for her most of the day and work from home, this has definitely come up.

    I remember showering with my brothers and my dad when I was a kid, probably far beyond 4 or 5 years old. He probably didn’t shower with my older sister at that age.

    I showered with my daughter in the tub for a long time, and I think I’m phasing it out. But honestly, I think it’s more for my comfort than for her sake. I just make a point of not acting embarrassed or laughing or trying to hide things, so that she doesn’t come to think there’s something out of the ordinary about our differences. And after I explained once or twice soberly but kindly about how our bodies are private, she seems to have caught on without a lot of fuss.

    I wrote more about it here:

    http://raisedbymydaughter.blogspot.com/2012/05/on-nakedness-and-how-girls-and-boys-are.html

  8. KeAnne says:

    We talked about this last week, but yeah…feeling a bit awkward lately.

  9. melissa says:

    I’m not here yet because my oldest is a girl. I am open with her about my body parts because she is going to have them. However, she is not around my husband naked. She is 3.5 and we stopped the naked daddy thing about a year ago. My son is 4 months and I’m sure when he gets around 2, I’ll become more modest. In my house, I want my kids to understand their are differences but also know boundaries. I don’t want my daughter thinking its ok to walk around in the nude in mixed company. :) if that makes me a prude I’m ok with that!

  10. Samantha says:

    yup, i am getting to the point of uncomfy around my kiddos naked and they are all girls. my hubby stopped wandering around in his birthday suit when my oldest was about 2 1/2. But, as we are now having a boy i am even beginning to feel a little uncomfortable even with nursing (i will still do it but it makes me a little leery) so i know my naked days are almost done.

  11. Elena says:

    I think it might be a tad different for us, because I nursed C till he was 16 months and am nursing his little brother, so my boobs are generally out. Modestly of course. But still.

    Now with my lady bits? yeah those are private and I try not to let him see me with out my bottoms on. I mean, that doesn’t mean I freak out if he walks into the bathroom while I’m peeing, or just hopping out of the shower.

    But we are definitely starting to realize he notices the difference between mommy body and C body.

  12. Sarah says:

    We still dress/undress and even shower with our kids (boy almost 3 and girl 2 months). We are very matter of fact about anatomy boy vs. Girls parts. I’m nursing so my son sees my breasts whenever I feed my daughter he knows thats what “boobs” are for. I would guess that around school age perhaps I will start being more modest around my son and my husband will do the same around our girl. For now we are all very comfortable with appropriate nudity (showers, dressing/undressing) no one walks around naked and I want our kids to be comfortable with their bodies. I agree whatever works for your family is best for you!

  13. Momma Maven says:

    Ha! Well I’m a grown adult with my own kids and my mom still wanders around the house naked! Anytime we go over there I have to knock OBNOXIOUSLY loud and yell HELLO, to save my poor hubby from the nightmare of seeing my mother naked. And if he did, she could care less… that’s how I grew up, modesty was non existent.

    That being said, I am the same way *to an extent! I certainly dont wander the house naked but I’m not shy about my body. I think there are traits to adopt from both sides of the fence. It is important to teach our kids to be comfortable with themselves and others, and to not get hung up on the small things. But there are also good things to learn from being somewhat modest, learning about privacy, and respecting people and their personal space.

    I shower with my Dudes and have no problem being naked in front of them, the 2 year old will chat about my boobs here and there and has a fascination with my bras, but he’s TWO… who cares, right! If he were 10 it may be a different story. I say if you’re uncomfortable then you should do what makes you feel ok without going over the top and giving your kid a weird complex about nudity.

  14. Meghan says:

    I, like you, was raised in a modest household. We were told that our body parts are private, but it’s ok to explore, because that is only natural. I occasionally still take some showers with my daughter – she’ll be 3 in August. But most of the time, she doesn’t want to take a shower, so she’ll take a bath instead. I don’t see a whole lot of curiosity from her, with my body. But I have started to shut the door when I go potty (oh man, “mom” terms haha) and I try to dress when she’s not looking or not in the room. I don’t go out of my way to get dressed when she’s not in the room or make her leave so I can get dressed. I think, when she starts showing more curiosity or asks, I will tell her more. We’ll just cross that bridge when it comes.

    I think you’re doing a terrific job raising Harry. Don’t second-guess yourself or the way you choose to raise him.

  15. Bree says:

    Evan will be 3 in August & I’m definitely not modest about nudity in front of him. He takes a shower with me everyday. He knows that boys & girls are different (I can’t tell you how many times he’s yelled “Mommy not have a weewee!” in public!), but him seeing me naked just is not that big of a deal to me. He loves taking showers & baths together & he will only be little for so long, so I figure we will keep doing it until one of us gets uncomfortable with it. He’s not a grabber but he does like to stare, which can be a little weird but I know it’s only because he is still figuring out all the differences between boys & girls & is just very curious. And I’m okay with that.

  16. the grumbles says:

    We are super casual about nudity. I don’t walk around buffing it but in the morning, getting ready, shower time, etc. Bodies are… bodies. We all have them. Jude asks me about my breast sometimes because he’s aware that babies use them for ‘milks,’ but I just tell him I don’t have milks anymore and that they’re called breasts, blah blah blah. We also have a whole “my body, my space” routine going on to help understand privacy/touching. It’s important to me that he sees a woman in his life who isn’t terrified (or hating, or ashamed) being in her own skin and that all our parts are normal, funny, boring. As he gets older (almost three now) we’ll gauge how his modesty develops and I’ll definitely cover up as needed, but I’m too hippy dippy to get worked up about it.

  17. Haley says:

    I grew up in a house full of girls and my mom and sister were always naked. lol It was never weird to me, but I’ve always been the modest one. My little boy is only 1, but my husband/3 year old daughter are currently going through this. Lately she’s been telling *everyone* about how her daddy and brother have “winkies” because they’re boys, so I’m thinking it must be time. They say your earliest memories are usually around 4 years old, so definitely no more seeing daddy naked after then! baha!

  18. Marmat says:

    I don’t have issues with it, but I have a daughter. She’s 2y 3m
    My husband doesn’t hide or wear a bathrobe, but he turns around when he’s putting his underwear, and also wears it when they take a shower together.

  19. Erin says:

    I’ve been wondering about this lately, too. We’re not modest in our house, either – mostly because it’s annoying to have to cover up after years of not having to worry about it! Plus I enjoy taking baths and showers with my kid, both for bonding time and because sometimes it’s just convenient.

    Henry is Harry’s age and he definitely sees my boobs a lot because I nurse his little brother. But I also don’t want Henry to be able to remember seeing his mom naked – creepy! I have no memories before age three and I don’t think most other people do, either – so I figure once he turns three in October, maybe we’ll have to stop the bathing and showering together and I’ll have to do a better job of covering up between the bathroom and the bedroom.

    Also agree with others that it depends on the sex of the child. I don’t think my husband should worry as much about our boys seeing him naked, and if I had a daughter, I’d probably be more willing to have her see me naked past age three or so.

  20. Saz says:

    I recently chatted with a friend who has older kids about this. She said she stopped being naked around her son at age 3. I think that is a good age to stop being naked around your opposite sex child, especially since I have started to feel awkward like you are. I think if I had a daughter, I may be ok with it, and I’m definitely ok will my son still seeing my husband naked.

  21. Caroline says:

    My two-and-a-half year-old also reached for my boobs recently. I let him touch them, and I told him that only Mama has them, not Daddy and not (his name). I nursed him for sixteen months, but we are more than a year out from when he was weaned, so I think it was just curiosity. I did mention to my husband though, that I think I will no longer be showering with him. I think it’s fine if he and Daddy shower together. I haven’t started actively avoiding changing in front of him, and if he walks in I act as if it isn’t a big deal, but I think at some point in the next year I will need to talk to him about how we have some parts that are private and should not be touched. He currently doesn’t have enough language to understand, so I’m not really stressing it yet. You know your kid. You’ll know when it’s time.

  22. Amy says:

    I didn’t read all the previous comments…but Lexi saw DH naked out of the shower and pointed and asked “what’s that”? He was embarrassed and ran off to get dressed…I told her that was daddy’s penis. And that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. She accepted the answer and moved on.

    I’m comfortable being naked around her…to a point. I don’t go parading around in the buff…but if I’m getting dressed or fresh out of a shower and she’s there, I don’t hurry to cover up. I don’t want her to think that the naked body is something that is shameful…

    Oh…she’s 3.

  23. Heather says:

    When I was growing up I saw both mom and dad nude coming out of the shower every day until I was probably in 4th/5th grade and decided on my own not to be in their bedroom at that time anymore. They never asked me leave if they had to get dressed/undressed. I really appreciate that–I think body positivity and comfort are healthy things to model.

    Remember that your son’s interest in your breasts has absolutely NOTHING to do with sexuality. These boy/girl differences are really interesting. They are learning about GENDER and what that means. I really believe there is nothing wrong with letting your son see you or your husband naked until they are in the upper end of elementary school. If you are casual about it, they will be too. If you don’t want him grabbing, don’t let him grab, just like you wouldn’t let him pull your hair. “Mommy doesn’t like you pulling her body” is fine—breasts are just another body part to him.

    Funny memory: when my sister was about 4, and our dad was getting dressed she asked, “Why does daddy have a tail?” :) We all laughed–that’s about the comprehension that age has.

    Also, so what if kids remember seeing a parent naked? If you’ve ever gone to an Asian spa, you know most naked bodies look pretty much the same. They’re gonna open a biology textbook someday and all the childhood memories will be pretty fuzzy.

  24. Donna says:

    Yeah, I’m getting wierded out about it too, but sometimes I feel really bad about leaving my toddler screaming in the crib while I dress. So I get dressed as quickly as possible in front of him so that he’s calm and content.

  25. Single Dads Advice Column says:

    The best part about being a parent is you get to set your own tempo with your kids in your household. Sure we take something from our past maybe tweak something’s others we just ignore. How you feel about it is really what matters most. More generally this would be a great time for your son and your hubby to start sharing some naked time so he can see the similarities and bond. In the end it’s really how you feel and don’t believe it really matters or impacts your son.

  26. bwsf says:

    My son is 4 and occasionally I get out of the shower and walk to my bedroom nude, and he will see me. He’s never gone out of his way to point out body parts or try to poke at them or anything, so I never thought it was too much of an issue, though I have wondered lately how long I can pull this off. He was nursed, and it’s interesting you bring that up, I wonder if it does have an effect? I’ve never thought about it before. I also bring him into public restroom stalls with me and he has asked me where my penis is, but that’s the extent of it really, and I figure that’s just sheer wonder. He has a penis, so where is mommy’s? I figure in the next year or so I’ll start covering up, but I think this is something each mother and child can figure out for themselves. If being naked in front of him is making *you* uncomfortable, then I suppose I’d start covering up. If you want to avoid shaming bodily curiosity or if you’re worried about being a “prude”, avoid a conversation about how we “have to” cover certain parts up. I don’t plan on saying that, just a brief word on how some people like to have their privacy.

  27. Beverly says:

    I also have a son that is only a few days away from three and he noticed mine ( boobs) i just make sure I always have a bra on and some undies and he seams fine with it but he dose ask the question while pointing at them what they are and I just tell him its just mommy’s skin . I dont really want to tell him what they are because he dose repeat new words and boob’s are not a word i want my son to be saying yet. Im thinking I should let daddy cover this one .

  28. Kat says:

    My mom was always naked and my dad in a house with three girls got more modest when I was six or so? He always just went around in boxers or tiny shorts, so I thought bodies are/were normal. My son is almost four and daughter almost two, they share a room with us and see us naked. Not flaunting but just in the morning or after showers etc. I nursed my son til his third bday and still going with daughter so they see my boobs all the time anyway! i think it is just fine.

  29. Katie says:

    There is no right or wrong time to stop getting naked in front of your toddler. If you are starting to feel embarrassed or awkward, then it’s time to stop. Your child will pick up on your feelings on the matter. If you are nonchalant, most likely they will be too. If you feel embarrassed, then they will too. The main thing is to react calmly when they react or ask questions. In your son’s case say, “We don’t touch other peoples bodies without their permission.” Put on your clothes and gently explain that boys and girls have different bodies. There is no need to give them a ton of info that they have never asked for. Answer what is asked, and leave the sex talk for a late date.

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