Why I’m buying my 8-year-old her first bra

Why I'm buying my 8-year-old her first bra

Three years after I first shared this post, we’re about to mark this milestone for the third time as our third daughter turns 8 (how did that happen?!), and it continues to be one of the best parenting decisions I’ve ever made. It’s become a fun tradition…and then a non-event; wearing a bra is just what we do after we turn 8. 

She’s not yet 8 and just entering 2nd grade.

She knows more about the animal kingdom and world history than Sean and I put together, but she still giggles over Yo Gabba Gabba.

And although our culture rushes children through childhood and then lets them linger in adolescence, we believe childhood should savored and protected in those early years.

So why am I buying her her first bra already?

Honestly, I didn’t even realize that 8 years old was considered young for a bra until I mentioned it in passing to a few friends and they looked at me like I’d grown two heads.

But to be clear, when I say “bra”, this is what I mean:

why I'm buying my 8 year old a bra

The main reason I’m planning to buy my girls training bras early (when they turn 8, since we’re pretty big into birthday milestones in our family) is because it’s what my mom did for us. And I’m so glad she did!

We all know that puberty can be a time of feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable with your changing body. And when I was little (and let’s face it, 8 is still little!), my mom watched other moms struggle to get their older, developing girls to wear bras. They were already sensitive about the changes their bodies were going through, and while they needed to wear a bra, it was a reminder of those changes, so they resisted.

She bought my sister and I training bras when we were 7 or 8 years old, and we were so excited to have something so grown up that it was never a struggle to get us to wear them. When we did start developing, that habit was already in place and it simply wasn’t a big deal.

Although I was fairly awkward and self-conscious in general as an adolescent, I don’t remember ever once feeling self-conscious about my body, and I think my mom’s approach played a huge role in that.

That’s why my oldest baby girl will be going bra shopping for her 8th birthday. (And three years later, I can say that it’s worked just like I hoped it would!)

***

If you have little girls, are training bras on your radar? If your girls are older, when did they get their first bras?

  • Shiels

    I just break into a sweat just thinking about it. I am mother to 1 baby girl, She turns 8 in 2 weeks and I must say I have been turning a blind eye on her growing chest. She had just turned 7 when she wanted to talk about bras and back then its was so easy for me to say, lets wait till ur 8.I’m not ready.

    • kira

      Your right you wait until your ready to let your daughter have a bra

      • Lotus

        I think that’s a great idea!! My eight year old is developing and I went yesterday to purchase training bra because I would see her in the house wearing t shirt and it would be sticking out. I feel that training bra will gradually help her with puberty and accepting the changes and adjustments to her body. The training bra helps for support and fits tightly against the chest and conceals it. Eventually my little girl will get older and this will help her get used to wearing a bra instead of forgetting to wear one because she was introduced so late. We also have to understand that the level of hormones that are injected into our foods each day can be a reason our little ones are developing so fast as well as genetics and other factors, however we must make sure that kids feel comfortable and teach our little girls how to be a lady!!!

  • Cyd

    I am 11 years old and I worry I won’t catch up to the other girls who are already wearing bras but I always remember that every one grows at a different rate but I still worry have any advice?

    • kira

      Just because other girls are wearing bras doesn’t mean you don’t have to get one just be you

    • http://www.farfromflawlesslife.blogspot.com Missy Robinson

      I didn’t “need” a bra until I was 17 years old. But I did wear one of those training style bras starting around fourth grade. If you want one, share with your mama or dad, grandma or even a friend’s mama. Another easy idea is a camisole. I wore one everyday for before wearing an actual bra.

    • Kate Beltz

      If you want a bra, 11 is a reasonable age to approach a parent (or whomever YOU feel most comfortable with) about getting some. Don’t worry if you aren’t as “filled out” as some of the other girls. I was pretty well flat chested until I had children….. then they never went away! A few recommendations from a mother, a girl whom always bought a padded bra, and a very self-conscious teenager: buy one to start, but get fitted properly. Buy it in a nude skin color, there is nothing more tacky on a beautiful girl than to see her bra through her clothes. Buy fun pretty ones for the days that you wear dark clothes. Never let your bra straps show. This is not sexy, hot, classy, or any of the above, no matter what you see on t.v. You ARE better than that. Don’t pad your bra. No matter how close you and your BFF are, one day you two WILL be mad at each other, and she WILL tell the whole school. Another bit of insight, no matter how badly you want to busty, or think that makes you beautiful, you are beautiful because of your personality. There is always a pretty, popular, cheerleader type girl (and I was a cheerleader ) that has big breasts. There is another that is equal with small breasts. You are the ONLY person who is concerned with your cup size. Promise. The final thing to remember: ALL girls want a full bra at a young age. ALL girls with a full bra wish they were smaller when they are grown women. Google search Christina Ricci as a teenager. Then Google Christina Ricci now. She is physically the same size everywhere EXCEPT her bra. She was born a busty girl and had a reduction. Everyone thought she was “chunky” prior to her reduction. She was never chunky. She was busty. Smaller cups will always make you have a better fitting dress. Always. You will always look more petite, thin, ect. Even if you are heavier. A large bust will always make you look “top heavy”. My favorite “fashionista” with the best style: Spencer from Pretty Little Liars. She is always sharp, classy, put together and fashionable….. and most of all, flatter than a board! Good luck honey!

  • http://thefrugalgirl.com/ The Frugal Girl

    I’m kind of the opposite. I think bras are so freaking uncomfortable and irritating, I’ve opted to wait until they ARE necessary to buy ’em for my girls. lol I figure they have a limited number of years to feel unrestricted by a bra, and I hate to cut that short.

    Clearly this is working fine for your girls, so carry on!

    But I will forever loathe bras, I think.

    (I try to remind myself that women’s undergarments used to be WAY WAY worse. At least I live now, and not 100 years ago.)

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      LOL! That’s funny. I actually agree with you, and I’ve been known to take my underwire bra off in the car after a long day—ha!

    • Kelly Cook

      Me too! I’ve always said part of what makes a good day is NOT having to wear a bra, which I can do frequently since we homeschool.

  • http://www.kmlogan.com/ KM Logan

    I remember getting one when I was 9, and I needed one. Maybe 8 is a good rule of thumb. I’ve got three girls in my family so it’s something to start thinking about. Also 2 of my girls are very close in age so having a set number might make things easier.

    • http://lifeyourway.net/ Mandi @ Life Your Way

      I think the spacing (or lack of!) of our girls is one reason we’ve fallen into so many birthday milestones. It makes it so much easier to explain why the older ones get something sooner even though they share so many other rules/activities.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/ priest’s wife

    This is a MERCIFUL idea- why mercy? I remember being in the 7th grade (flat as a pancake until high school). in the gym locker room, I had to take off my shirt so I could be tested for spinal trouble- all the girls had their shirts off and bras on- my mom never got me one.

  • Carol Graham

    What a great idea. My mother was bedridden all my life so I had to figure these things out for myself. When I thought I needed a bra I bought the smallest one I could find – 28AAA. I almost passed out in school and the principal realized what had happened and took me shopping.

    • http://www.farfromflawlesslife.blogspot.com Missy Robinson

      What a fabulous principal!

  • Crissy

    Great idea! I was around the same age. If a little girl starts showing please get her a training bra. It will help to cover them in white or light colored shirts especially uniform shirts. This will save her lots of grief from her peers. I like your idea of doing milestone things for birthdays too. My sister has bigger girls and my little one thinks she should do whatever they get to do.

  • Anne Quarles Gibbs

    This is the best idea I’ve seen today. Filing this away for when my little are older.

  • http://www.familybalancesheet.org/ Kristia

    I bought my 9 yo a few sports bras at the beginning of summer. She has no need for them physically yet, but her sporty tank tops were loose, so the sports bras gave her some extra coverage.

  • Virtually Paula

    This is a very good idea. I wish I had done it. When my daughter was around 6 – 8 years old, she would always ask if we were going to buy bras when she saw all the cute bras in the girls section of the stores. She wanted one in the worst way. Forward to when she was 10 years old and starting to “bud”. She could still have gone a while before getting a bra, but I figured we should get some then and get here used to wearing them before she got bigger and actually needed one. I assumed she’d be thrilled when I told her we were going bra shopping, since she had been so desperate to get one for years. I assumed wrong. Now that she was starting to develop, she was self-conscious about and didn’t want to talk about it, let alone have bras to remind her that they were there. It took a good 6-7 months before she would wear them consistently, even when she started to develop more and she really should have been wearing them.

  • Angi Schneider

    This is a great post Mandi. There are so many things in parenting that don’t have clear cut answers and what is right for one family might not be right for another. I love seeing how mom are navigating the waters and giving ideas for others. I have two daughters 15 and 6 (and four boys). When my 15 yr old was about 3 she started wearing undershirts under some of her shirts – white t-shirts or shirts that were a little loose around the neckline. It made it a very easy transition to a bra when she need one at about 11. It also “smoothed” her out when she every first started budding and was less self-conscious about it. When my 6 year old was almost 3 she asked why she didn’t get to wear a bra because she’s a girl and just like her older sister and I. So we went shopping for undershirts.

  • http://tinabsworld.com/ Tina B

    My daughter just turned 8 a couple weeks ago and has been wearing training bras for months. For me, it was necessary due to her obsession with her nipples. It’s the only way I could get her to stop playing with them. I have been judged by other mothers and my family members, but I just tell them I don’t owe them an explanation.

  • RaD3321

    My 11yo daughter was obsessed with my bra (and let’s face it all the “womanness” of my body) that she had her first training bra right around 8 or 9. She requested to buy them at back to school shopping and I told her it was fine as long as they were not padded because she didn’t need to look like she had something she did not. She’s worn them ever since and we’ve continued to buy them as she’s gotten older. She’s still not quite there yet but is perfectly comfortable in them. It was a big step into “older girlhood” and opened up a lot conversations about her changing body that have been easier, I think, to discuss because of it.

  • Heather Hill

    Reluctantly I had to start my six and half yr old on them. It was all too apparent that she needed them. My mother said she developed early too.

  • kate

    i don’t know why i’m here, but yeah…i’m 12 years old and i started to wear a training bra when i was 9, now i’m wearing the same, while i can say that i’m an A cup! well i’m not a specialist. but my training bras are very tight, my mother doesn’t like “that kind of conversations” and she didn’t even tell me anything when i got my period! like srsly? she thinks that i’m still a small kid but i’m really mature, maybe she doesn’t buy me a bra, or talks about puberty, because my 19 year old sister doesn’t have breasts (like…nothing is there) and she’s self-concious and wears a B cup to be more confident, when she saw my “cleavage” through my training bra she went “that kid’s chest is bigger than mine, just look!” she said it sarcastically but i knew she was kind of…disappointed? maybe my mom thinks this will make her self-esteem fall even low,when she hears that i got my first “normal bra”..well i don’t know..also all my “flat-chested” classmates got B cups and walk like ” oh hey! have you noticed my large breasts?” and wear tight tank-tops…they just look funny, but boys don’t seem to understand they are faking it…so what should i do? i thought about getting my bra myself if i get a chance…but nope…so how should i talk to my parent?

    • ceferian

      Try to approach your mom at a time when she’s relaxed and not busy or in a hurry. Then tell her matter-of-factly that you need some new bras because your old ones don’t fit anymore and ask her if she would be able to take you to the store to get new ones. Just keep it simple; you don’t need to add a lot of details as to why you need new bras. You shouldn’t have to justify why you need new ones if the old ones don’t fit anymore. I’m sure the shirts you wore when you were 9 don’t fit anymore, either. Hopefully, she will be understanding and agree to take you. If time is a problem, or if she just won’t take you to the store, do you think she would buy you new bras online? You could just ask her to pay for the bras after you’ve selected them. Or maybe you could ask your dad to pay for them after you’ve chosen a few? Embarrassing, I know, but it sounds like you might not have a lot of choices.

      If for some reason your mom won’t take you to the store and won’t let you buy bras online, you could consider asking your sister to take you. It doesn’t sound like she is that supportive, either, but your needing a new bra shouldn’t be a threat to her self esteem. You are not responsible for how your sister feels about herself, and you certainly can’t stop your breasts from growing even if you wanted to!

      If neither your mother nor sister will help you, do you have an aunt or grandmother who could take you? I hope one of the adults in your life steps up and helps you with this. Your needing new bras is no different than needing toothpaste, socks, or deodorant. It’s a shame that your mother is so uncomfortable helping you. I hope you don’t feel bad about yourself because of the trouble you’re having talking to her. There’s nothing wrong with you or with the fact that you’re developing. It sounds like your grandmother had a hard time talking to your mom about puberty and growing up, so your mom isn’t sure what to say, either. It’s a shame because you deserve to understand the changes that your body is going through. Do you have any good friends whose mothers you feel comfortable talking to if you have any questions?

      And finally, it’s important to find a bra that fits you well. Not only will a good-fitting bra make you look better, you’ll feel better, too. As you know, bras that are too tight are very uncomfortable! There are lots of web sites that can tell you how to get the proper measurements for a bra. If you don’t have a flexible tape measure, you can use a piece of string or shoe laces tied together to put around your chest. Then just measure the length with a ruler.

      Good luck to you, honey! I hope everything goes well!

  • Sherry Wray

    Is a Cami bra ok for a first bra?