Worried Mom Says Baby Boy Just Discovered His New Favorite ‘Toy’ & Won’t Stop Playing With It

Twenty20

Baby boy
Twenty20

There's a bit of a learning curve involved when you become a boy mom for the first time. (And you only need to get sprayed in the face with pee once to realize it.) But one mom is asking the internet whether a certain "habit" of her infant son is normal or not, and ... well, people are somewhat divided. 

  • The anonymous mom recently wrote into Slate's parenting advice column, "Care and Feeding," to share her story.

    The letter writer described herself as a new mom to "a wonderfully happy and healthy 5-month-old son."

    But recently, her mother -- who occasionally watches her son -- has become "increasingly disturbed" by something her baby keeps doing. 

    You could call it a habit, or maybe even a fixation. Either way, the poster's son apparently keeps "grabbing and pulling at his penis during diaper changes and baths" and it's seriously weirding out his grandma.

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  • The thing is, the new mom keeps telling her own mother that it's perfectly normal -- but in reality, she's not so sure. 

    She came from an all-girl family, and never happened to babysit for boys growing up. In other words: Her knowledge of "normal" penis touching behavior is rather limited.

    "Which leads me to other questions," the letter writer wondered aloud. "At what age is this not appropriate? Do I try to distract him from grabbing his penis? Should I give him more 'naked baby time' outside of diaper changes and baths? Anything else I should know?"

  • Commenters quickly lined up to give the letter writer some Boy Mom 101.


    It more or less boiled down to this: Penis touching will happen. A LOT. So get used to it, Mama!

    "I understand that your concern is serious and very real," one person prefaced. "However, I am laughing because boys will touch their penis forever. I had one boy that would stick his hands down his pants when he slept (as a toddler) as if he was afraid it would fall off before he woke up."

  • They also reminded the mom that babies are pretty much discovering everything at that age -- and are amazed by it all.


    "Leave the poor baby alone!" wrote one person. "He's fascinated that he's got hands, and plays with them. He's fascinated that he has a penis, and plays with it. Soon he will be fascinated that things fall when he drops them off his high chair, and he'll play with that."

  • Many thought the real issue was actually with Grandma -- who may need to get her head out of the gutter.


    "Five-month-old baby touches own body and Grandma is 'disturbed'?!" one person wrote. "Lord love a duck. How early we impose adult shame and sexuality onto our young. I'm actually more pissed than I thought at Grandma's attitude towards an infant's only natural exploration of their own bodies. Honestly, what is so 'disturbing' in this scenario?"

    That person definitely has a point.

  • All in all, the majority of commenters confirmed the mom's suspicion: Yes, it's normal, and no, you don't have to worry.


    "I have a toddler and he started touching his genitals at around the same time, during diaper changes. And continues to!" one mom shared. "It's actually a good opportunity to describe those body parts to him using anatomically correct language, in a very relaxed, nonchalant manner.  'Oh you're touching your penis. And those are your testicles.'"

    "Like most things, the more you make a big deal out of something, the bigger a deal it’s going to be," another person added. "As a matter of course kind of redirect so you can diaper and dress the kid. Yeah, it’s maybe a bit more interesting than twiddling the toes, but it’s unlikely to become an out of proportion activity either."

  • Rumaan Alam, who writes the advice column, echoed many of their sentiments.

    "Babies exist in a weird state of shock at their own existence, forever marveling at their own hands or feet or tongues or … you know," Alam explained. "I wouldn’t bother distracting him from touching any part of his body, unless you’re trying to hurry along the diaper change or get him to leave his socks on."

    As for that whole "naked baby time" thing? 

    "There are few things cuter than a little baby lolling around in the nude, but I don’t think you need to devote time to this just so your kid can get in touch with his, um, self," wrote Alam. "I assure you every child alive finds a way to explore their own genitals. As he ages, you can encourage him to conduct his explorations in the privacy of his own bedroom."

    The moral of this story? Aside from it being more than normal, this mama better buckle up -- because if she thinks there's a lot of penis grabbing at 5 months old, she's in for a rude awakening when that kid hits toddlerhood. And elementary school. And middle school. And ... well, you get the picture.