Baby boy erections: What parents should know
It's change time. You take your baby's boy's diaper off. Hang on. What's that? Is it an... erection?! Stop blushing, mummy. Erections in babies are more common than you think. And you'll learn in this article why they happen, and if you should ever be worried about them.
Erections in babies: What you should know
If your baby boy's erection took you by surprise, know this: according to researchers, male foetuses can get erections at around 16 weeks gestation.
That's right. Erections in babies happen even before birth! In fact, erections are very common in infants and toddler boys.
Why do baby boys get erections?
As adults, we associate an erection in a male with sexual arousal. But this is certainly not the case with babies, so you can breathe easy.
What then is the reason for erections in babies? No one knows for sure. However, according to experts in child health, it could be a sign that your son's nervous system is working properly. In a newborn, an erection can indicate that his bladder is full and he is about to urinate. Or it could be a reaction to cold air hitting their genitals when you take the diaper off.
Unlike in adult males, a baby boy's erection won't lead to ejaculation. That won't happen until he hits puberty, at around 12 years or older.
When little boys are amused by their erections
Some little boys, especially toddlers, think their erections are great fun. Don't be surprised if you see your son touching himself, giving himself a little erection, and then giggling madly. He might even show it off to you or others around him.
How should you react? Don't make a big deal out of it, mummies. But at the same time, you should gently explain to your little boy that penis play is not appropriate at dinner time or when out in the park. As simply as possible, tell them that their private parts are private.
Most importantly, don't make your son feel ashamed of his erection.
When little boys are scared of their erections
Not all boys think erections are funny. Don't be surprised if your son actually gets scared by his erection and starts crying. They might not be happy with the change of appearance of their penis, or they may feel discomfort or even slight pain.
Whatever the reason, if you see your boy is not too happy with his erection, first reassure him that it's normal. Next, help him feel more comfortable by either dressing him in loose clothes or giving him a bath.
When to worry about erections in babies
In general, erections in babies are normal and will subside on their own. But sometimes, they could indicate a health issue. If your little boy's penis looks red and swollen, or the erection does not subside within an hour, then you should bring your son to the paediatrician.
Sometimes, prolonged and painful erections could indicate a health issue known as priapism. Generally, this occurs in boys aged five to ten years or adult men who have conditions such as sickle cell anemia or leukemia. It may also be an indication of trauma to the penis or pelvis (usually through abuse).
Parents, we hope all your questions (that you could never ask!) on erections in babies are now answered.
Also read:Do you know when can your baby sit?