When you see your baby touching themselves down there, it’s natural to wonder if this is typical behavior, especially if this is your first child. But this is normal. They’re exploring their newfound body the same way they touch their noses, toes, ears, and fingers.
Touching their bodies, including their genitals, is a phase that most children go through as they are growing up. Try not to feel ashamed about it, and don’t scold your child when they touch their genitals.
Should you do something when your baby is touching themselves?
When children touch their genitals, parents don’t know whether to encourage it, discourage it, or ignore them.
If you discourage your child from touching their genitals by removing their hands, yet encourage them to discover and play with their fingers or toes, you’re sending them a confusing message.
Unlike adults, infants and toddlers are oblivious to the nature of sexuality. They haven’t learned about the sexual nature of genitals or sex in general. But they are constantly discovering and exploring their bodies.
Studies have shown that genital touching is common in early childhood. Sometimes they become so proud of and excited by their erection that they show it off anywhere to anyone. As a parent, how you react to this can affect how your child views genital touching and their sexuality.
If you strongly disapprove of your child showing off his erection, he may feel the need to be secretive. He may even feel ashamed of his body. But if you exercise tolerance and understanding of your child’s emerging sexuality, you can teach your child to respect their body and take pride in it.
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Are baby erections healthy?
Baby erections are totally normal. Male infants can get erections when breastfeeding. You may also notice that your baby has an erection during bath time or when you are changing his diaper. Infant girls also have clitoral erections, but their erections are usually hardly noticeable.
An infant’s mind and body cannot distinguish a sexual function from one that is not. When you are breastfeeding your baby, the pleasure your child derives from this activity can cause a genital response.
Remember that the pleasure your baby derives from breastfeeding has nothing to do with sexual pleasure or an orgasm. It is simply a feeling of comfort. This activity soothes the baby, reduces tension, and provides distraction.
However, it is important to teach your young children about their genitals. Studies have shown that a lack of sexual education, unresolved sexual curiosity, and ignorance around sexual issues can be harmful.
Children who are taught about their sexuality by their parents or sex education programs are more open-minded than children who have no knowledge about sexuality. Research shows that teaching children about sexuality at an early age can lead to self-acceptance and help promote a positive self-image.
Sexuality plays an important role in the way we behave and relate with other people. When we understand our sexuality and that of other people, we are able to have more fulfilling relationships.
Some experts believe that ignoring the subject of sexuality as a parent can cause children to have sexual problems when they are older. It’s not healthy for your child to learn about sexuality without supervision and from unreliable sources. Misinformation from poor sources can lead to irresponsible sexual behavior.
In short, sexuality is part of our culture, and genital exploration is a normal part of child development. As your child gets older and starts to learn more about their body and the sexual nature of their genitals, you can begin to explain appropriate and healthy sexual behavior. Having open communication with your child about sex and sexuality can encourage responsible sexual behavior later in life.