What you need to know

  • It’s normal for children to play with their genitals. Talk to them about where and when it’s appropriate for them to do this.
  • Your baby or child’s penis and foreskin (the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis) don’t need any special care - there’s no need to clean inside the foreskin in a young boy.
  • Never pull the foreskin back using force. It will detach by itself, and will often be able to be pulled back by three to five years. For many boys this isn’t possible until puberty, and this is quite normal.

Children are curious about their bodies

Most young boys touch or play with their penis often. This is a normal part of their development and how they learn about their body.

Talking to your child in a relaxed way about their behaviour and when and where it’s okay to play with themselves will help them learn about their bodies and how to care for them. A good time for this conversation can be when you’re teaching them to clean themselves.

If you’re concerned about this, you may like to talk to PlunketLine, your Plunket nurse or another healthcare provider.

Penis care

Your baby or child’s penis and foreskin (the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis) doesn't need any special care.

  • The foreskin shouldn’t be pulled back by force. It’ll often be able to be pulled back by three to five years of age, but for many boys this isn’t possible until puberty. This is quite normal.
  • There’s no need to clean inside the foreskin of a young boy. Wash and rinse the penis the same as any other part of the body. When a boy is old enough to clean himself, he can wash his own penis.
  • Once the foreskin pulls back easily, your son should learn to do this as part of normal washing.
  • Make sure he carefully rinses off any soap and pulls the foreskin back over the head of the penis afterwards.

You need to see your doctor if you notice that your child’s:

  • urine (wee) flow is weak, dribbles, or stops and starts
  • your child appears distressed when passing urine
  • your child has a fever along with other symptoms
  • foreskin is swollen when they wee and stretches out like a balloon. This ballooning can be normal, but if it’s severe and the flow of wee (urine) is restricted you should seek advice from your family doctor
  • there is pus or blood coming from the penis.

 

Need free support or advice?

Call PlunketLine 24/7 on 0800 933 922