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Why Does Your Toddler Keep Undressing at Night?

As a parent, it is part of your daily routine to tuck your toddler in at bedtime and ensure they are warm and cozy in their diapers and cute pajamas.

However, for many toddlers, you will later find them sleeping peacefully, stark naked, with their pajamas and diapers on the floor. For some parents, the scenario is a daily battle because the toddler peels off their clothes and tosses them aside whenever they step out of the room.

If your toddler keeps undressing at night, it is likely because it is a new skill or just out of boredom. It could also be due to discomfort. Undressing at night is common in toddlers, but if it becomes frequent, you’ll want to figure out why.

The number of toddlers who undress at night might surprise you. Read this article for reasons why they like sleeping in the nude and what you can do about it.

Toddler won't stop undressing at night.

Reasons Why Your Toddler Keeps Undressing at Night

Here are the main reasons your toddler constantly insists on sleeping without clothes.

Your Toddler Has Acquired a New Skill

If your child is learning how to undress, they will find the experience exciting because it is easy to master. Toddlers are often proud of learning to undress, and once they discover how to wiggle an arm out of a sleeve, unzip or unbutton, they will keep doing it – because they can.

Similar to how they keep throwing things to the ground from their high chair, they are merely perfecting the new skill through practice (source).  

Your Toddler Feels Uncomfortable

Sometimes, your child is uncomfortable because of a wet or soiled diaper or uncomfortable clothing. Some toddlers cannot verbally express the need to use the bathroom or tell when they have already used the diaper. Their way of communicating is by removing their clothes and diapers.

If your child is wearing restricting pants or an itchy shirt, they may strip down because they feel more comfortable that way.

You can also check the bedroom temperature to ensure it is not too hot for your toddler. While you may worry about the child being cold, you can cease fretting: humans generally sleep better in a cool environment.

Your Toddler Wants Attention

You are probably right if you are suspicious about your toddler enjoying it when you dress them up again. Young children crave attention, and undressing is just one way of getting it.

Parents often pay more attention when toddlers exhibit unwanted behavior, so the response tends to reinforce such actions.

Do you make a fuss when you find them naked? The child knows that when they remove their clothes, they get more attention, so they keep doing it.   

Your Toddler Is Bored

Is your child taking more than 30 minutes before falling asleep? They might be taking off their clothes to deal with the pre-sleep boredom. As a result, they occupy their time by exploring new tricks like unbuttoning or unzipping their pajamas and peeling off their diapers (source).

Your Toddler Is Ready To Potty Train

If your child can recognize that their diaper is making them uncomfortable because it is wet, this is a sign that they are ready for potty training.

They may be taking off their clothes at night as they try to remove their wet diaper. They may also recognize the sensation that they need to pee or poop, and it may be waking them up.

What To Do When Your Toddler Keeps Undressing at Night

Here are some tips to help teach your young ones to keep their pajamas on at night.

Shop Smart

Just like an adult, your child wants to sleep in non-restrictive, comfortable, and cool clothing.

Buy loose, soft pajamas that are not too warm. You can also buy pajamas that zip up or button up at the back.

Read the Signs

Start potty training your child if they are removing their clothes and diapers because they recognize the sensation of using the bathroom. If they are not ready, try using a more absorbent or larger diaper to keep the little one from getting wet quickly.

You can also start teaching them simple words or phrases to communicate when they are uncomfortable or need to use the potty.

Monitor Your Reaction

How do you react when you find them wearing no clothes? Do you get angry, make a big deal of it, or laugh it off?

To a toddler, any attention is welcome, but negative attention can reinforce the behavior. Remaining calm and reminding them to leave their clothes on at night is best.

Avoid making undressing a big deal. Instead, downplay it, and use a lot of positive reinforcement. For example, you can praise them for keeping their clothes on or speaking out when they need to remove their diapers to go potty. 

Evaluate Your Child’s Schedule

Does your child have an appropriate sleep-wake schedule? They could be removing their clothes because they get bored when they take too long to fall asleep. Maybe they are not tired enough at their regular bedtime.

You can experiment by adjusting their bedtime 10 – 15 minutes later. It might also be better to wake them slightly earlier in the morning, which will make them sleepy a bit earlier in the evening.

Be Creative

Allow your toddler some “naked time” just before a bath. They can practice taking off their clothes and diaper if they like, but at bedtime, remind them that it is sleep time, not naked time.

Final Thoughts

Like all phases in a toddler’s life, undressing at night will not last forever. Use lots of humor and hugs to make it through; next week your toddler will discover something new!

Author Notes:
Teresa is a Registered Nurse in the state of Texas and the mother of two. Opinions and insights on childcare are based on professional knowledge, academic research, and personal experience.

Recommended Reading:

Teresa
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