Ages and stages
Birth to 2 years
In this section
What to expect
Sexuality for a baby is not like sexuality for an adult.
Feeling closeness, safety and love is the start of learning to expect and to have loving relationships.
Babies learn about the world through touch. Just as they enjoy playing with their fingers and toes, they will play with their genitals too, because it feels good. It’s normal and healthy.9
Baby boys have erections and baby girls’ vaginas lubricate (get wet). These are reflex responses and part of healthy development.
What you can do to help
- Start using the correct words for body parts now, such as vulva, vagina, breasts penis and testicles.
- Naming body parts and answering questions about their functions helps create an open atmosphere.
- Sometimes one or both of a baby boy’s testes do not descend into the scrotum at birth or over the next few months. This is normally picked up and monitored as part of your baby’s regular health checks, but if you have any concerns, speak to your doctor.
Yes. Children need to know the correct names for the female genitals on the outside of the body.
‘Vagina’ is incorrect as it is the inside tube leading up to the uterus (womb). The vulva is the outside part made up of the clitoris and the labia (inner and outer lips).
Using the correct terminology helps you speak about all body parts without embarrassment so that children have the language to ask questions, seek help and explain any changes of concern accurately.