Mom, I have breasts!
Breast development is an important milestone for young girls and can be seen as a welcome rite of passage into womanhood or an unwelcome reminder that girlhood will soon become a thing of the past.
One of the things that come with breast development is the search for the perfect training bra. This bra will help to protect the breast from chafing against clothes and helps young girls to adjust to the idea of actually wearing a bra.
Mother of one and general practitioner Dr Sandra Knight believes that parents should start getting their daughters used to the idea of wearing training bras once they start developing breast buds, which she describes as being "very distinct mounds on the chest".
"I believe that once that starts, the child can wear an undergarment, because I think that can prepare her for the bra that is coming up. Her parents can decide that they don't actually want to do that and wait until the child develops nipples. Then, she would definitely need a bra, because the nipple is going to show through her clothing and it's going to be inappropriate socially," she said.
"I would say once the breast buds are there, there should definitely be some type of covering, because you are now going to go into the PE room and you are going to change..." she asserted.
Some girls experience teasing, particularly from boys their age once they start developing breasts, and so training bras are a good way to keep the breasts discreetly hidden. It is therefore important that mothers sit down with their daughters and explain the reason behind the need for training bras, although some might object and find ways of getting around wearing them.
However, Dr Knight believes that this should not be a decision that a child should be making.
"Not everything is a discussion. I'm your parent and based on the fact that you are now having breast buds or breasts, you are now going to start to wear this, so the question is why? I am having you wear this because, one, it's what ladies do and ladies cover themselves up and they are discreet, and two, your breasts are now off your chest and they are in harm's way and you need protection, and three, that is what happens when you go from a girl into a pre-teen, into a teenager, into a pre-woman, into a woman. It's just a part of what needs to happen," said Dr Knight.
"Many children are not going to make good decisions about many things. That's why we are there to guide them through," she said.
Dr Knight noted that while parents should be the ones determining when a child starts to wear a training bra, the child should be allowed to help choose the style, colour and design of the bra to help ease her anxiety.
"Triple A bras are very hard to find, so the option is to get like an exercise top that goes down to your mid-chest and when you reach size A, then that is the time you can actually buy bras off the shelf. It is important that girls get bras that fit them also, so they don't get discouraged from wearing them," she said.
"Sometimes they get the bras that are too big and it pulls up in their backs. Sometimes the bra straps are too narrow and it digs into their shoulders; so they need to make sure that it's comfortable and the child won't find it a bother to wear."
Mothers should be able to choose the perfect bra from a wide range that is available for pre-teens. There is the traditional cotton bra, which is usually devoid of hooks, buckles and wires and is more practical for young girls, then there is the sports bra, the padded teen bra, and the underwire training bra which might prove to be a bit more uncomfortable for those just getting used to the idea of wearing a bra. The smallest bra size available is AAA.