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I have three children. My oldest, a boy, didn't start masturbating until he was 6. My youngest girl is 2 and has occasionally reached down during diaper changes and been pleasantly surprised by the sensation. But my middle girl, she's nearly 4 and been masturbating since she could sit up at 6 months. You can't explain to a baby about privacy and she wasn't shy about it at all. High chairs, car seat, bed rails, shopping carts. Any time anything was in between her legs, she was on it. She was also vocal and determined, often getting flushed and hot. Talk about embarrassing! We never spoke badly about it, but always tried to distract her in public or removing the temptation. She wasn't often put in high chairs or shopping carts. The pedi confirmed it was perfectly normal and NO there was no abuse at all.

She's mostly grown out of it now, but we can talk to her about the importance of privacy at this point. I'm so glad we never mistakenly gave the wrong message. She's very comfortable with her body.

Mike Patchen

You are right about the making it an issue about privacy rather than "dirtiness". I would say,however, that you need to think more like a four year old for things that are private. Deep feelings tend to be shared with one and all, or no one. When our daughter "discovered" herself we brought up a privacy issue she was well aware of already: nosepicking. That was a connection she could make, "everyone picks their nose, just not in public", everyone touches their peepee, just not in public.

Joani Blank

Thanks Greta for your answer to this letter. Readers of your blog might take note of the picture of A KID'S FIRST BOOK ABOUT SEX, and might want to know how to get hold of a copy.

I wrote and published that book when my own daughter was about 5 years old, and it was for kids her age (to read to them mostly, of course). It has been out of print for about two years, and except for a handful of hurt copies I have for sale, and the occasional one that turns up on Amazon Marketplace as a "collectible," the book is no longer available. If any reader knows of a book publisher who might consider publishing it, I'd appreciate being told about him, her or them. ([email protected] I don't find a publisher soon I may make it available online as a PDF and ask folks to send me a voluntary donation (on the honor system if they use it


Keep it simple. I tell my kids they can play with themselves if they want just do in your room privately. To much information and you lose them anyway. My daughter was quite interested in it herself from 2 but by 3 1/2 she has mostly lost interest, for now. My eldest now 6 seems to have very little interest but my 1 1/2 year old son seems to like to grab it any chance he gets. All kids are different just instill a level of privacy and don't worry about it. They will do far more annoying things as the age.


Masturbating is normal in young boys or girls, we as parents all we can do is to keep on advising them the pros and cons of sex.but of course they should still feel the respect once we talked to them.

Dr. Stephen Doyne Phd

I'm a little amazed that anyone who feels comfortable telling a small child that touching where she "peepees" is "dirty" would write to you, given that you seem far beyond such shame and guilt.

I'm stunned, frankly. So many parents send harmful messages to their young children in order to soothe their own comfort levels without thinking about what kind of message may well stick with that child throughout their life.

And why on earth would anyone think a child discovers that their genitals (like every other part of their body) feel good when touched... by seeing someone else do it?

Keep up the good work and thanks for being here.

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