How to Help Your Child With Their First Period
6 July 2022 | Admin
As a parent, one of the greatest gifts you can give your child is helping them to be prepared for anything which should include their first period. To help your child with their first period:
- Talk to your child about periods, educate and share
- Discuss and decide upon period protection options
- Create a period starter kit for their schoolbag
- Create a period kit for at home
- Help your child track / predict their period
1.Talk to your child about periods, educate and share
It seems REALLY obvious, but the first thing you should do to ensure that your child is prepared for their period is to start talking and have a chat about it.
How to Talk to Your Child About Their Period
To talk to your child about their period, be positive! Although some people view it as a curse, starting your period is really quite incredible and part of normal and healthy body changes. Positioning starting your period in a positive manner can really help your child to react well when the eventful day arrives. Don't rely on the school nurse or friends to explain, this is definitely something that should come from both parents. Your child should feel able to be open to talking about periods with either parent, which could involve swotting up for some Dads!
There are some great resources online to help with this chat, such as the Cheeky Period Hub app, which is available on Apple and Android. Following the UK PHSE teaching guidelines, it's an informative and interactive way to learn about the menstrual cycle and periods. There are also some great books out there, we particularly like 'Period' by Emma Barnett. Even parents may find that they learn something!
Two things to explain clearly that are often misunderstood are:
- that you aren't 'sick' for this period each month, it's a normal part of being female
- that there's not a 'gush' of period blood, it's really only around three tablespoons over a 4 or 5 day period normally
Once you've had that conversation, it's time to get prepared with first period starter kit options.
Decide upon period protection options
I remember having this conversation with my Mum, who presented me with a stash of disposable pads as a done deal. To be fair, aside from pads and tampons (which were delivered via the Tampon lady at school) there weren't really any other options available 30 years ago.
Times have moved on though!
Many people are now switching to more eco-friendly options for period protection such as:
Menstrual cups are made from silicone and inserted in the body like a tampon, which is removed periodically, emptied and reinserted. Because it's an internal period protection option, it may not be suitable for their first period.
Reusable Sanitary Pads
Reusable sanitary pads are a modern alternative to disposable pads and
They're made from material such as bamboo or cotton and will have a waterproof layer to prevent leaks and are generally inserted into pants and poppered shut underneath. Reusable pads come in many options to suit all different period flows, from liners to heavy flow pads so there will be an option suitable for your child.
Period pants are the new kids on the block and they're called 'game-changers' for a reason. Imagine if all it took to deal with your period was choosing different knickers for a few days? No rustling in toilet cubicles, no being caught unawares. No chafing from itchy pads!
Period Pants are simply knickers with additional layers to absorb and wick away blood, plus a waterproof layer to prevent leaks. On lighter days, they can be worn all day, on heavier days you can choose heavy flow period pants, or change at lunchtime.
Many brands offer specialised period pants for teens or period pants for tweens. These styles tend to be age appropriate, made from cotton or high-leg styles suitable for playing sports and activities.
If you haven't come across reusable period protection before, read Laura & Arwen's story.
Create a period starter kit for their schoolbag
It's sods law that your child won't be at home when they start their period. That's why, once you've decided together what period protection they'd like to use, it's a good idea to prepare a period starter kit for their school bag. This could include:
- small wetbag for discreet carrying
- liner & pad
- period pants
- reusable intimate wipes for a quick clean up if necessary
Create a first period kit for at home
Whether your child chooses disposable or reusable period protection, they need to be able to easily access everything at home too. Plus, knowing what to do with soiled items is super important too. Disposable pads and tampons should NEVER be flushed as they block sewers and pollute our marine environment, but just wrapped in tissue and binned.
Reusable pads and period pants need to be stored somewhere prior to washing which isn't the bedroom floor ideally. It's a good idea to have a soaking box or wetbag for keeping the soiled items in, then they can simply be checked in the wash when there's a full washload ready to go on.
You might also want to consider adding a period heat bag to ease menstrual cramps.
Again, it's possible to buy reusable period protection kits, which contain everything you need to make useing reusable period protection EASY!
Help your child track / predict their period
30 years ago, my Mum recommended keeping track of my periods in a diary. Fast forward 30 years and there are a number of apps which can help to track periods.
My daughter who started her periods recently at 11 has found the 'Clue' app super helpful in being prepared even though initially she had irregular periods.
No matter whether you go old-school pen and paper, or choose an app, knowing when their period is due is always useful.
What Are the Signs My Child Is Getting Their Period?
Wondering if your child is due on their first period? The signs your child will soon get their period include:
- Changes in body shape, including development of breasts and hips
- Development of pubic and underarm hair
- Acne / spots
- Growth spurt
- Breast tenderness
- Premenstrual syndrome / moodiness
Many children experience vaginal discharge for up to a year before their periods start. The average age for periods to start is 12, although this can range from 8 years of age to 15.
In our household, moodswings & teariness from a normally easygoing child were a HUGE giveaway that something was definitely happening!
We really hope that this has been helpful for you. If you're interested in reading more, we have some recommendations for further reading:
About the Author: Helen Rankin is a mum of 4, with two teenage boys and two (almost) teenage girls. She's also the founder of Cheeky Wipes, who launched their best-selling reusable wipes kit back in 2008 when the #waronplastic was just a pipe dream. Cheeky Pants, focusing on period pants and reusable sanitary pads was launched a few years later. The team pride themselves on helping people make the switch to reusables and love to chat pee, poo and periods all day long. In 2021, the company were recognised for their hard work by being awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category.