When baby starts to "touch" themselves ...

Ashley - posted on 05/29/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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My daughter is almost 14 months and she will lay on the floor on her tummy and put her hand between her legs and wiggle her butt around while touching herself. I really don't know what to do about it. I don't want to tell her it's bad and gross but I don't really want her to do it. I know she has to discover herself down there but I'm juts not sure how to react towards it or what to say to her so she wont really do it ... idk what did you do when your child did this?

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Sarah - posted on 06/17/2010

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ok- let me start by saying that pre-baby I worked as a sexual assault victim advocate and educator. The agency that I worked for specializes in sexual assault and healthy sexual development so when I talk about this, it's not just my opinion, I am educated on the subject.
It is normal and natural for a child to explore their body. As an infant/toddler the child is simply finding another body part, like their toes or their nose. As they get older, it is normal for children to masturbate.
There is an extensive body of research that shows that children should be allowed to wexplore their bodies and that parents should use natural child curiosity as a Teaching Moment. What I mean by that is- at 2+ yrs old when your child touches her/himself use that time to explain privacy and how we do some things by ourselves, such as using the potty, or picking our noses.
Also, parents can begin explaining Good Touch, Bad Touch to their child and how your genitals are your own and no one should touch them. This is the Perfect way to begin this conversation with your child.
A child who is shamed or taught that their genitals and/or sex are 'bad' or something not to talk about is a child who will be less likely to report inappropriate touching to their parent. These children are then at higher risk for prolonged sexual violence. A child predator knows how to pick the 'weakest link' and will do so every time.
Being honest and upfront with your child could save them from potential harm. Waiting to have these conversations with your child is dangerous. Use normal child development to your advantage! I know that as mothers we do not like to think that this could ever happen to our child, but it can and does happen all the time, every day. IMO educating your child about sexuality is as important as making certain they are wearing their seat belt, if not more so.
There is nothing dirty or gross about the human body or sexuality, what is dirty and gross is child exploitation.

Melly - posted on 06/02/2010

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Ok, now i can talk without wanting to rip shreads out of some ignorant people, all I could manage at the time was posting that link. I havent experienced this with my LO yet, he 4 months old, and although it hasnt happened yet, yes I say yet, because I know it is coming, because IT IS ABSOLUTELY NORMAL. I know I did it when I was younger, my mum never yelled at me for it, she calmly explained as above that there are times and places to do these sorts of things, and in front of a whole bunch of people wasnt one of them. I sure as hell wasnt having sex at 10, nor have I committed any crimes, and my childhood home life was FANTASTIC. I am so glad I can come here to see what all the MUMS NOT IN DENIAL can suggest how best to cope with it. Thanks to all those mums :D

Nicole - posted on 06/17/2010

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I am going to embarrass myself and give you some background. I, myself, discovered (out of curiosity) myself "down there" as a child and I am now a very functional and sane adult. I am very religious and married and very faithful to my husband and family. I am not a deviant or an over-sexualized person. As a matter of fact, I am very modest and careful about my actions to ensure that they are pleasing to my Heavenly Father.

I was just a child! When and if my children discover their penises, I do not/will not make a big deal about it, because they are just children discovering their bodies. I do not want to make them feel that there is something wrong with their penises or that it is a disgusting part of their body. Making such a big deal about their private parts at such a young age would leave a very deep impression and it may be negative. And not making a big deal about it, is NOT giving permission to sexually gratify themselves (since they are just children and have no concept of sex), it is just giving them permission to be small children. Most will grow out of it as I did.

Distraction is a good idea if it bothers you so. That way they are just being distracted rather than being scolded for just being curious.

Jodi - posted on 06/08/2010

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My nephew went throug the SAME thing! We would tell him that yes, it feels good to touch his penis (or vagina for your daughter), but it's something we do in private. He could go into a different room or behind the couch, now, he doesn't do it all! I think if you tell them they can't do it all, they'll just want to that much more, but letting them know it's okay, just that it needs to be done elsewhere helps them realize that their body is nothing to be embarassed about, it's okay to learn about it and it teaches them some modesty at the same time.

[deleted account]

"and back then there was not as many stds or kids having sex and getting pregnant young. so i think i have a good point."

Maybe there were less STDs (maybe)... but you have to think that the only safe sex is no sex... if a child is taught that masturbation is "evil", gross and inappropriate even when in private. this child will grow up to see sex as "good" only if it's with another person... Moreover, children who are told that touching themselves is "disgusting" will most likely grow to think that if touching certain body parts is "gross" then those body parts themselves are also "gross". What kind of self-image do those kids have? Not very good I would assume... Which in turn leads to young women AND young men trying to find their "value" in sexual encounters... therefore increasing the risk of teen pregnancies and spreading of stds...

I can understand that a parent may feel uncomfortable with the fact that their child are exploring their bodies and i can relate. however, NEVER would I tell my son or step-sons that it is disgusting, unhealthy or anything of the sort. I agree with the other moms who ask their child to do it in private and clean their hands afterward. It's natural, it's human It's also an intimate moment that should be respected and private.

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34 Comments

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Nairrah - posted on 08/28/2013

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This post was very helpful . I know the child explores but the way my 16 month old is exploring is making me nervous. She lays on her tummy and wiggles Iike the original post but she is also patting it. I don't understand if that is normal or not because she doesn't pat anything else. Pease help

Maria - posted on 06/17/2010

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My older three kids have gone thru this. I just told them that if they wanted to do that they needed to do that in their room where no one else could see. I didn't want them thinking that discovering their own body was wrong, but I didn't want them doing that when and where ever. I still have to sometimes remind them if they go to discover that they need to do that by themselves in their room where no one else can see. I stayed calm and not offended/upset sounding when I spoke with them. I think self discovery is natural, proper time and place for everything. Hope this helps.

Danielle - posted on 06/17/2010

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My 14 month old son plays with his "junk" all the time. I think it's their God given right (for lack of better words haha). I don't stress over it.

Jami - posted on 06/17/2010

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all 3 of mine do this, the older two are aware that it's a private moment and should be done in private. my daughter is slowly learning that.

I use the opportunity to always reiterate that their genitals are just that--theirs.

[deleted account]

My son has been grabbing his balls and pee pee since he was about 4 months old. He laughs while he does it and puklls on them really hard. It is quite uncomfortable to watch. I just tell him to be gently and try to ignore it

Nicole - posted on 06/17/2010

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Okay, I just read through the posts (sorry I only read the last one or two before posting) and I am going to warn all you ladies.

Please keep it friendly! It is okay to disagree or have healthy debate, but telling another parent that they shouldn't have had children, just because their opinion or parenting views differ from your own will not be tolerated.

Please keep in mind the rules of this community and be respectful to the original poster by keeping the posts clean and friendly and this will allow us to keep this thread open. It would not be fair to the OP for this thread to become locked because you all can't agree to disagree.

Thank you ladies and HAPPY posting!
Nicole, Moderator

Natasha - posted on 06/17/2010

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no one said it was disgusting mylene but if your child is doing it, why not just change the subject or get a toy for them to play with instead of there penis?? and teach them about it when they get a bit older. you know like when they need to know about it.

Natasha - posted on 06/17/2010

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also my son comes to me and tells me everything we have a very wonderful relationship, never have i had to hit him, or write a post on what shall i do i'm stressed and run down, he was a wonderful child and is still the easiest kid to this day, maybe it comes down to parenting, and maybe by me sheltering him has helped? and is it really a fact of my son is to sheltered as you all say???? don't think so, I've seen the result of mothers who have not sheltered there children, and they are the ones who have had there 12 year old girls going out and sleeping with guys, and little shit kids. half the parents these days don't even know where the hell there kids are, or who they are staying with, and yes i do know what i'm talking about my brother is a lawyer and the crap that happens to children is disgusting so i will continue to wrap my arms around my son and love him and protect him from this disgusting world where ever i can and you all should be doing the same...... if this is what the real world has come to, ill live in the old one where it was not this bad, this is just mental

Stephanie - posted on 06/14/2010

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My son does it when I change his diaper he is 15 and a half months but I havent said anything to him yet because it is just a stage and unless she is still in it in a few months then it is nothing to really worry about right now.

Stephanie - posted on 06/08/2010

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Just teach her to do that sort of thing in private. She's just a kid and she discovered something that feels good to her... I don't see anything wrong with that. Just teach her that is something that is done in private.

Kelly - posted on 06/08/2010

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my son is only 10 months old and he pulls at himself there is nothing what you can do i know its hard but there is nothing what you can do to stop her she will grow out of it eventually

Natasha - posted on 06/04/2010

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i guess you have not met many people then, i am not saying i would make a huge fuss but i would not say to my child 'hay that is normal baby go to your room and do it just make sure you wash your hands' i can HONESTLY say i never did that as a child or young teen i guess if i did when i was a baby my mum would of told me to leave it alone, and i'm not effected by this i have a VERY healthy adult sex life, but hay each to there own takes all sorts to make the world go round i guess. but for the record my son does not either and i guess the world has gotten worse as it is just NORMAL now go back and ask your grandparents or great grandparents if it is normal? and back then there was not as many stds or kids having sex and getting pregnant young. so i think i have a good point.

Melissa - posted on 06/02/2010

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My daughter is 3 1/2 and I saw her doing it once and just asked what she was doing and she said "look mommy what is this?" and I just told her its was a part of her body and that's where her pee pee comes out. I tell her that pee pee is yucky and she needs to wash her hands but i have never yelled at her I'll just say stop or don't to that. I know she will and needs to learn about her body its a natural thing but since I told her, her pee comes out of there she does it a lot less. My mom did that same thing with me.

Christina - posted on 06/02/2010

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my son does the same thing, we try to explain to him (he turned two yesterday) that he should not be doing it in front of anybody, but there are times he'll pull down his pants and point and say"mine mine mine" and i have to tell him NO, you just have to keep telling her not to do it in front of people

Cassondra - posted on 06/02/2010

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im kinda in the same situation only my duaghter is 10 months and its mainly only when i change her diaper but she sticks her fingers in that area i tap her hand and tell her thats not good but so far no results

Morgan - posted on 06/02/2010

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wow Natasha thats a little rude.

My daughter is only 4.5 months old and has started to reach for herself when I change her Its totally normal and I agree with the other moms just try not to make a huge deal about it and when shes ready explain that, thats somthing we do in private :)

Good luck hun!

[deleted account]

Natasha, I suggest reading that link that Melanie provided. It IS normal and it doesn't mean that the child is going to grow up to be a criminal or a sex maniac. It doesn't mean that there is something wrong with their home life. Jumping to conclusions like that is harsh especially since you haven't looked into the subject. It's normal!

Brandee - posted on 06/02/2010

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My son is 22 months and when he is in the bath he pulls on his private parts.. He even sometimes puts his hands down his pants on his butt and just stands there.. Like when we stand with our hands on our hips.. Our pediatrican said to ignore it.. espcially when he started it when he was younger.. It would tell him not to touch it during diaper changes because his hands would be dirty.. but during bath time we treat it like any other body part.. Yep, that's your penis..

Danielle - posted on 06/02/2010

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hey natasha? i would put money on the fact that your 8-yr old is doing the same thing, but is afraid to let you know, or is doing it with a friend as a 'secret game.' its normal. havent met one person yet that didnt know about pleasure or sex by the age of about 6 or 7. i just hope you havent given your kids a complex so when they are older, they can enjoy a healthy relationship with whomever they end up with.

Lexi - posted on 05/30/2010

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I can understand you being uncomfortable. I grew up in a family where masturbation is considered wrong, gross, sinful, etc.. and I know a lot of people who believe that. The important thing to remember is like you said, it's natural for her to explore herself. Just like she spent months sucking on and playing with her toes, she has simply found a new body part to investigate. At this point it's not really even a sexual thing. More of a "hey what's this?" At this age, I personally would just ignore it, but it could easily be combined with starting to teach her to be clothed out of her bedroom and in public when she's a bit older. I don't know if they understand the concept of "privacy" at this age. If it is really upsetting though, you could start now by just telling her that it is something to do in her room bedroom. Just don't make it like it's a punishment "you did a bad thing so you have to go in your room". More like "you are touching your [whatever you've chosen to call it]. That's where pee pee comes from. Sometimes that feels good to touch. I think it'd be more comfortable in your room, lets go play in there" By the time you take her to her room she will likely have forgotten what she was doing and just play with something else. Just make sure a start teaching her that she needs to wash her hands after touching down there. My 10 month old son has discovered his privates and grabs down there occasionally during diaper changes. I have a hard time laughing because he looks so much like a typical man "scratching his balls". hehe I have to admit though I am not looking forward to dealing with the masturbation or puberty or "birds and the bees" subject with a boy. I think it would be a lot less scary if I had a girl!

Jamie - posted on 05/30/2010

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Ok... My daughter is now 7 years old and she still "touches herself and has since before she was two... I have simply told her that its okay as long as she does it in the privacy of her room with the door shut and to wash her hands afterwards. At 14 months old you really cant get them to understand privacy quite yet so I just wouldnt make a big deal out of it when you catch her doing it because then she may think thats what she needs to do for alot of attention.... just redirect her attention to something else...

Hope this information helps you...

Ashley - posted on 05/30/2010

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She does it over the clothes but as well as when I'm changing her diaper. I distract her w/ a toy when her diaper is being changed. I asked her watcha doing baby and she kind of stopped and looked up at me then went back to business. I guess maybe I'll let her experience for a little while and kind of ignore it but I laugh cause I don't really know how to react to it so I probably should not do that lol. Thank you everyone for all your advice. I really appreciate it. Hopefully wen she is a little older she will understand that that is for her own time and not in front of anyone else.

[deleted account]

I have always told my son to save it for bath time or bed time...this is not something you do in front of mommy or others!!!



He's almost 4 now, if he doesn't seem to want to stop I ask him if he wants to take a bath...which he is now going to be told that he has to do this alone, not w/brother in the bath (but I suppose that would fall under 'not in front of mommy'?)

Ashley - posted on 05/29/2010

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it's totally normal. Pleasure is universal. First off try not to really react. sometimes if you react this will fuel it and they will do it more to see how you will act next time. Tell her that not all the time is an ok time to do that. and then pretty much ignore it. She will get over it. It's new and exciting right now. It will get boring.

Christina - posted on 05/29/2010

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I would also tell my daughter it's something to do in private and not in front of other people. Kids will masturbate. My daughter recently started doing it almost every time she has her pants off, be it for bath time, butt-butt change (as I call it), or whenever she manages to get her hand down her pants. I've been trying to teach her when it is and isn't appropriate to do that. While in the bath, it's fine, getting a butt-butt change, it's okay unless we're trying to hurry around to go somewhere. Any other time is a no-no.

Angie - posted on 05/29/2010

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At that age I just ignored it and I still ignore it with my 20 month old. Just recently I've started talkin to my 3 1/2 year old about touching herself and told her it was fine if she wanted to do it but it's somethign that she really should do in privacy.

Sara - posted on 05/29/2010

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My daughter does the same thing, I really dont' respond to her. She does it when she is sleepy or after a bath. I guess, I'm not that worried about it,yet. Everyone has different opinons on this,but I think it is natural for little ones to discover their bodies.

Shannon - posted on 05/29/2010

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this is 100% natural. Every child does this. what I would do is explain...as appropriate and as much as you can to a 14 month old that that's something we do in private and its not nice to do in front of others. I'm afraid if you tell her it's "gross" or "bad" she will get the wrong idea about her body in general. you want her to grow up being comfortable with her body. just my idea.

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