The last time we were at the beach, something surprising happened…

We didn’t have Toby’s swimsuit with us, so I just stripped off his clothes and diaper without thinking twice. He scampered around starkers, happy as a clam, putting his toes in the water and running on the sand. After all, the beach wasn’t crowded, there were mostly young families, and he’s only two years old. Plus, our cousins and I had run naked around the beach a million times when we were little, so it seemed like a regular part of childhood. Totally par for the course.


That day, although the parents nearby were chatting with us nonchalantly, I noticed a few glances from other grownups. Maybe I’m imagining it? I thought.

Then a seven-year-old girl came over to ask Toby, “Why are you naked?” I explained to her that we forgot his bathing suit, so he was just swimming naked that day. She looked perplexed.

A few minutes later, we were walking down the beach, and I heard a group of young kids giggling and whispering, “There goes the naked baby!”

Wait, I thought with a forehead slap…was his nakedness a faux pas?

In the end, I decided to put his diaper on and let him run around in it, which was fine, even though it got heavy and soggy from the water. Of course, I didn’t want to make people feel uncomfortable, and I didn’t mind what he wore.

But it made me wonder…is it not socially acceptable to have a naked toddler at the beach? Maybe I’m just used to swimming in my grandparents’ tiny village where everyone knows each other. Maybe it’s less appropriate when you don’t know the crowd personally? Maybe this crowd was more reserved than elsewhere? Maybe it’s just less appropriate these days, in 2013?

I’m so curious and would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Maybe also mention where you’re from, since it might be interesting to hear if various states/regions/countries feel differently. (Regardless, I’ll remember Toby’s swimming suit next time:) Thank you so much!

(Photos by our friend Sharon when we were in Fire Island last summer)