Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let's Get Naked!

I'm sure it's no secret to any of us that babies (and even young children) love being naked. You've seen your little one's face of utter glee when the diaper and clothes come off and they're lying free as a jaybird atop the changing station. You watch that little face brighten, eyes dart around proudly, and little hips and knees and feet start jiving and flicking. I'm free! he or she is probably proclaiming inside. This is how I was meant to be!

Now, we all know for practical reasons, our little darlings cannot go naked all the time. Most obviously, it is very easy for babies to get chilled quickly as they lack the temperature control mechanisms that we have to keep our body at a more even temperature. Clothing is a vital protection for them, even against the mild elements within our own home. For most of us, being naked can also be a time filled with anxiety for us as parents as we wonder just what our baby might do without a diaper on. We cringe at the thought of pee in our carpets or a yellow stain on our pristine white bedding. Yes, it is possible for parents to become in tune enough to practice full or part time elimination communication, thus enabling more diaper free time and reducing the chance of accidents. However, even if you are not willing to go quite that far, it can be a terrific idea to allow your little one some diaper free time every day.

In the early days of a newborn, it has now become research-supported truth that skin-to-skin contact is an important part of the parent-child bonding experience. Mothers are now insisting to see their babies from the second they are born, and share delicate moments with them, bare chest to bare chest. Even once your baby moves out of the newborn stage, they (and you!) will appreciate time spent without the obstruction of clothing and diapers. Skin-to-skin cuddles or feeding sessions can develop a feeling of nurturing closeness. Even when my daughter was several months old, there were quiet times at home where we would come out of a bath and snuggle without clothes on under a warm blanket. Those were precious times of closeness and getting to know one another. My baby girl could begin to feel warmth and touch and softness without the artificial harshness of a zipper or set of buttons or bra straps getting in the way of our snuggle.

Even though our baby girl is now six months old, we still have at least one session of nude baby time a day--it is usually shortly before bed time at our house. This is a time that baby Aurelia absolutely adores. The minute her clothes come off, she wriggles around, content to experience her world with all her senses. She can feel the textures things around her more fully, loves the feel of my hair sweeping over her bare timmy, and loves to air out her little bum, which spends most of its time covered up. Diaper-free time is one of the best ways to keep diaper rash at bay. In fact, rather than reaching for soaps or creams, the first thing I do when I see a bit of redness creeping in is I give baby some extra naked time. It's almost always a no-fail prescription to clear things up. Diaper rash, after all, is caused by moistness, bacteria, or yeast that can build up within unbreathable diapers. Disposable diapers are made with plastics and chemicals, and are not very breathable. Even cloth diapers are often covered up with PUL (artificially laminated materials) or "rubber pants" which trap humidity in the diaper area. Add to that that we often cover our baby up even further in sweats, jeans, snowsuits, and blankets, it's no wonder they wriggle with glee when that little bum sees the light of day! Diaper free time is a great idea for any baby.

If you're scared of diaper free time and the mess that may ensue, here are a few practical tips for how to lessen those worries or at least learn to "go with the flow" (pardon the pun!):

- practice diaper free time at a reliable time of day when you know your little one doesn't wet or dirty their diaper as heavily. Every baby has their own routine, so go with your own instincts. However, most babies will pee shortly after eating or waking up, so give them a few minutes to relieve themselves before removing their diaper after these activities 
- remove the diaper after it has recently been wet or dirtied; although not foolproof, this can mean that baby may not have to go again for a little while 
- if possible, lay baby on a waterproof pad (such as a mat backed with PUL or a waterproof material). If you don't have one, you could layer a towel/blanket with a little plastic (such as a garbage bag) underneath. However, don't leave baby unsupervised in this setting as the plastic underneath is a suffocation hazard if they were to manage to get it up near their face 
- if you prefer not to use plastic (or don't have any available), grab some dirty laundry (towels, blankets) or extra prefolds to create a soaker space under the baby's bum. Cover it with one clean mat/blanket/towel and position baby on top 
- stay with baby to watch for signals (a certain face or body position can indicate that they need to "go") -- this can help you to "catch" a pee or poop in a diaper or on a tiny potty 
- practice on a non-carpeted area that can be easily wiped up in case of accidents (but put something cozy under baby to soften the surface and provide some warmth)

Apart from bringing some much needed air time to your baby's bottom, your baby will love the different sensations of being diaper free. Gently blow on their body or tickle them with soft objects. Provide items of different textures for them to play with (not just with their hands--think of their feet, legs, elbows, and tummies too!). Let them feel the light of a subtle sunbeam on their skin. Keep a careful eye on your baby for signs of discomfort, especially coldness. You can also partially cover them with a blanket or just certain items of clothing (a t-shirt, socks) if need be.

Diaper free time is such a fun time for both baby and me. I get to watch her explore her world in a whole new way. We are no longer suffering through stressful and painful bouts of diaper area redness and rash. I've also found that her motor and mobile abilities have been enhanced without the obstruction that a fluffy cloth diaper sometimes contributes. Baby Aurelia has done all her best experimentations with pulling her legs up to her chest, sitting up on her own, and beginning to roll over while she was diaper free. She has been able to gain an awareness of her body and the world around her, and her smiles beam that news up to me. The only extra trade-off I've made is a little extra wet laundry here and there. Still, I'm sure it'll be nothing next to the laundry I'll be doing for Aurelia when she's a teenager ;)

I'd love to hear your take on your baby's diaper-free time and experiences as well!


  1. I have an eight month old and will do diaper free time occasionally. When she was 3 months old the first time she rolled over she was butt naked on our bed on a towel. I'm a believer that naked time is good! Her room has constant sun and is nice and cozy so diaper free time is great up there. Also, we have this amazing Little Green Machine, a portable steam cleaner to clean up any accidents. A little resolve and the green machine and the yellow spot is gone!

  2. I love diaper-free time, but with two little boys messes are inevitable. I bought a large indoor/outdoor waterproof blanket which has now been renamed the "pee mat" to contain any messes. It's wipeable and washable, and in the summertime we'll use it as a picnic blanket as well. Of course, now that the youngest is crawling it's a lot harder to contain anything.

  3. We've been trying to give our little one diaper free time regularly since she was born. She is susceptible to diaper rash, so it is necessary, and she loves it! We just spread a thin, non-crinkly tarp on the living room floor and cover it with an old flannel bed sheet. She loves it! It helps that our apartment is full of sun and quite warm.

  4. We do almost daily diaper free time at our place as well! My son runs around naked, and my daughters run around shrieking "weanie boy, weanie boy"!! It's actually really cute :)