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My 1-Year-Old Son Always Tries to Touch His Penis. Is This Masturbation?

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Lately, when I change my 1-year-old son's diaper, he reaches for his penis. Is that normal? Is that masturbation?
- Janice

Many concerned parents call their doctors because their kids touch their genitals during diaper changes or their baby boys have frequent erections. They're reassured that these behaviors are perfectly normal — even the youngest children naturally explore their bodies.

How you react — your voice, the words you use, your facial expressions — is one of your child's first lessons in sexuality. By responding without anger, surprise, or disapproving words, you teach your son that this curiosity about his body is just a normal part of life.

Toilet teaching, when it starts, will present another great opportunity to reinforce accepting attitudes about your child's anatomy.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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