Prev Next
Baby Boys 101

Baby Boys 101

By Amalah

Dear Great Amalah,

I have two little girls (ages 5 &6). I am due with a little boy in about 6 weeks (although I am really thinking that 4 more weeks is more than enough…..sigh….). My sister in law also has a girl and is expecting a boy about 10 days before me (we planned that well, didn’t we?). My friend has two little girls and just had a boy almost two months ago. Noticing a pattern here???

Advice Smackdown ArchivesSo my question is, what do I need to know about little boys??? I’ve got the girl thing totally figured out; no clue about what to do with a boy. And his boy parts. And the boy stuff he will do that will really make me wonder about his intelligence.

In the interest of saving my sanity, could you compile some sort of list of boy facts you wish you had known. An FAQ list of sorts. Something. Anything. Cause I know nothing about little boys.


You know, a few weeks ago I mentioned on my blog that I was going to write a book called THEY TOTALLY GET BONERS: And 250 Other Things Nobody Told You About Mothering Little Boys. It was just a joke, but some days I do think: I SHOULD TOTALLY WRITE THAT BOOK.

Now, I could get into a big whole thing about sex vs. gender and how gender stereotyping is bad and all that. I could assure you that my sons have both had complete freedom to choose the toys and interests they want, rather than what’s expected of “boys.” I could tell you that they are allowed to play with my jewelry and try on my shoes and have only the vaguest sense that there’s anything “different” about girls except that we sit down to use the potty. I could tell you that we own baby dolls and dollhouses, that Noah loves the Disney princess movies and that Ezra’s favorite toys include his play kitchen and a miniature pink baby doll stroller. This is all true.

They also love cars and trucks and trains and planes. Monsters and dinosaurs. Pirates and Star Wars. My long-ago notion that my children would not play with weapon-like toys has gone down in laughable flames, because even if I don’t buy them weapon-like toys, sooner or later they figure out how to MAKE TOYS INTO WEAPONS. We have lightsabers and swords made out of drumsticks, Tinker Toys, pencils and empty paper towel tubes. Finding one tiny little plastic gun in a Lego set was all it took for Noah to figure out that he can make his fingers into the shape of a “shooting thing” and go around pew-pew-pewing me all damn day. They wrestle and jump off the couch and hurt themselves and behave like total jackasses. Ezra is perhaps the worst offender — there was a time when Noah was the quiet, book-reading, puzzle-assembling type, but now he mimics his crazy friends and the baby mimics his crazy brother, with no fear and less sense, refusing to accept that he is littler and not coordinated enough to climb all the way up the monkey bars yet.

Buy extra washcloths and put them over his penis when you change his diaper. For the first few months, something about that diaper coming off will trigger an immediate need to pee, and it will arch up and out and all over the wall or you if you’re not careful. Don’t buy any of the little pee-pee teepees or whatever: the pee sends those things flying. Washcloths or small cloth wipes are where it’s at.

At some point, the air-to-pee trigger will stop. Right around the same time he’ll figure out how to grab himself. He will smile, and he will NEVER LET GO.

Seriously. There’s a lot of penis-grabbing and tugging and pulling.

The specifics of how to care of his penis will depend on whether you circumcise or not, but don’t worry: They will totally tell you how to take care of the boy parts at the hospital. At first, just plain soft cloths and warm water are best. Maybe some Cetaphil.

Check for HAIR. Your hair. Especially once you hit that postpartum shedding phase. Hair somehow ALWAYS manages to get into their little diapers and wrapped around the business. This can really injure them and/or get infected, so keep an eye out for that.

Cleaning poop from the testicles isn’t fun.

If you notice any rashes or irritation, your doctor will probably recommend either plain (unscented) Vaseline or Neosporin if the skin looks raw. Keep both on hand.

Boys can get yeast infections too.

They can also scratch themselves.

Or stick fruit stickers in their diapers.

But call the doctor anyway, if you see anything out of the ordinary down there.

At some point he will get defensive about you touching or cleaning his privates. It’s normal. Try to teach him to care for that area as much as you can.

At some point he might figure out that certain things Feel Good When You Touch Or Rub Them. Also normal, also innocent. Don’t make a big deal about it; just start working on the concept of Private Time In Your Room & Not In Front Of People.

And yes. They do indeed, totally get boners. It’s a nice little surprise for that first early morning diaper change.

But boy-parts aside, your son will be who he is because that’s who he is. He might want to do to everything his sisters do because he wants to do everything his sisters do. Or he might not want to do ANYTHING his sisters do. He will be your special little guy, his cuddles will melt your heart into your toes, his tears will stir up the deepest Mama Bear urges you’ve ever felt, and his antics will both fill you with alternate waves of terror and laughter. You will want to eat him whole because he is your precious little baby for always, while feeling the immense weight and pride that comes from the responsibility of raising a little boy into a man. It’s amazing. Welcome to the boys club.

If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

Published September 3, 2010. Last updated July 22, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon


  • Molly

    September 3, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    As a mom of an 11-month old boy, I must say Amy’s list pretty much covers it! I must add, though – in my experience, the whole washcloth-over-the-penis thing never worked. My kid would always manage to kick it off, and once it was off, well…let’s just say, the angles on that stream will AMAZE you. 

    The boners happen early – like, first weeks early. I had no idea. It made me have a new-found sympathy for my husband… 

    We’re currently in the “check the penis” stage and, now that he’s got pointing down, every bath or diaper change, the first thing he does is look down and put his index finger on his penis. This never ceases to be totally adorable! It’s as though it’s been in the back of his mind since getting dressed – MUST CONFIRM STILL HAVE PENIS – CHECK!

  • sonja lange

    September 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    they are totally different creatures…they don’t share all their thoughts with you like girls, they start hitting you/each other/random people really early, and they really do break/destroy/take apart everything that isn’t tied down and some things that are…but boy will you love them…

  • Jaymee

    September 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    When my son “found” his penis, he grabbed ahold of it and started pulling. Then he started screaming because he was hurting himself, which caused him to squeeze harder and pull harder. It was the funniest thing to watch. I’d get his hand away from it, and he’d put it back and start all over again. He was determined to hold onto his penis no matter what.

  • Cass

    September 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Do not get the pee pee teepees! We got them for our amazing boy as a shower gift. Cute, adorable, but laughably USELESS. They aren’t even big enough to soak up the pee, assuming you can get them to stay on, which I couldn’t.

    Oh, the penis and testicle pulling and tugging. It makes *me* wince, but the kiddo seems to like it and hey, if he’s happy, I’m happy? (We haven’t gotten to the private time talk, because he’s only 8 months, but I’m already planning ahead! ;))

    My wonderful boy is a crazy little man, kamikaziing off the changing tables, bed, sofa, etc, he likes all toys equally, despite color (he got a lot of girlish hand-me-downs from me and his two aunts), and he likes my blush brush as much as daddy’s shoes. He’s all himself, regardless of sex.

    And Amalah’s fruit sticker story is a MUST read for little boy mommies – I sporfled my coffee all over the computer! So hilariously true, every mom should read it! (We’ve just gotten to the cheerios in the diaper stage. *g*)

  • Carrie

    September 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Aaaahaha! This post had me cracking up. It’s all SO TRUE. My boys are 3 1/2 and 17 months and I could have pretty much written this post word for word!

  • NinaN

    September 4, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Eeeeek!!!! I feel kinda “famous.” Thanks so much for answering my question! I think the pee pee tee pees (or wee wee wigwams if you prefer) are hilarious but I was not going to buy any so I found a pattern and made 4 just for laughs.
    Thanks so much! 4 more weeks (or less…..please oh please let it be less!!!).

  • Myssie

    September 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I would like to add that an uncircumcised penis does not arch spray pee! Even my nephew, who is a crazy, crazy wetter, like my sister has had to double diaper him since 3 months old.
    My son peed at every diaper change for a while there and at it’s worst I had to wash the changing table cover. The fore skin aims the pee down, as long as a diaper is under them you should be cool. Just another plus in the long list of positive to keeping boys intact.

  • Jenifer

    September 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Ha ha – the uncircumcised penis at our house does NOT aim just down. My kid can hit the wall behind him – to the side – across the room. I am afeared for the future…

    Having a boy is AWESOME. Enjoy it.

    • Lex

      January 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      “An uncircumcised penis does not arch pee”
      Ummm… I beg to differ on that one. I have two uncut little guys, and I have been AMAZED by the golden arches they can produce. In the same week, my youngest (2 months) has hit the cat and his brother (twice.. he never learns to get out of the way when I’m changing the little one) in the face.
      To be fair though, I’m told girls are capable of the same. My mom swears that my sister once managed to arch up over the side of the crib and onto the floor. So there’s that.

  • Erin

    September 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    One thing that they never told me was regarding the care of the penis. One of the main reasons I decided to circumcise was to make it easier to clean (meaning, I thought you wouldn’t have to pull the foreskin back to clean under it at any point.) Which turned out to be untrue. Our son is circumsized, and for his first few doctor visits after he healed the doctor had to pry back the part of the foreskin around the penis because it had gotten stuck. I guess boys secrete a little bit of stuff, and that gunk get stuck under the foreskin whether you circumsize or not, and if (AFTER THE CIRCUMCISION HAS HEALED) you can wash gently around it, make sure it’s loose and moves, then he’ll be fine. It just goes back further than I though it would/should. And because I didn’t move it when I bathed him or use Vaseline like I should have, it got sore if he got an erection and it had to “tear” away or when the doctor checked it. Does that make sense? Gah. Ask your doctor, lol.

  • Linda

    September 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    It’s true. The pee arcs are legendary in our house. However, I think the trade off was that he’s never had too many of them. Seriously, from BIRTH he’s been pretty good with the air-to-pee thing. To balance that, he is a terrible tugger, but I have to say it’s pretty funny. He’s just started the boners and that freaks me out a little, since it was never that obvious and last week it was, “Time for a diaper change! WHOA that was unexpected!”

  • Laura

    September 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old – both boys. And they eat and wrestle like teenagers. And little boys smell like vanilla and dirt.

  • Julie

    September 4, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    My uncircumcised baby almost peed in his own eye once. So yeah, some baby boys manage to spray all over the place like a fire hose, some apparently don’t – I guess it comes down to luck or angles or something.

    When I was using cloth diapers I quickly got into the habit of draping the cloth diaper over him while I got the rest of the change set up. With disposables, I’d take a quick peek to see if it was dirty or just wet, cover him back up with the diaper, and if I was lucky he’d pee in that while I was grabbing the appropriate wipes, diaper cream, etc as needed.

    If you don’t circumcize, one important thing to know is that the foreskin will still be attached all the way to the tip at first, and you should not try to force it back. When you are wiping the penis clean, if the foreskin slides back under gentle pressure you can clean whatever is exposed, but never force it. I guess the age at which it can retract varies, but it can take several years. Once it can be pulled back easily, it’s a good time to start teaching that part of the bathtime routine is cleaning under it. (Gentle soap and water just like the rest of the body, nothing strange needed. But it is good to get all of the various folds on the body cleaned now and then, including that one.)

    I was a bit nervous about having a baby boy at first, since I’d mostly babysat girls – I had a sister and girl cousins, etc, but not much baby boy experience. But trust me, within a few weeks it will be old hat and you’ll be perfectly comfortable with it all.

  • Julie

    September 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Oh, and on the “they totally get boners” thing – at least for our baby, if it’s all completly limp and tucked in, you’re probably not going to get peed on. If it’s starting to stand up a little bit, it may mean imminent peeing. It’s a useful warning sign to avoid the diaper sprays early on, and to know when an extra few minutes on the potty might be useful later on.

    Oh, and that whole “peeing as soon as the diaper comes off” thing? When they’re older, it translates to “peeing as soon as they stand up to get off of the training potty to see if they peed in it yet.” Fun, fun, fun. 🙂

  • Kate F.

    September 6, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I’m still learning all of this–my son is just over 2 weeks old. Boners? Check. Reduced me to tears two days after getting home by peeing all over himself INCLUDING THE FACE in the middle of the night? Check. We’ve only had a few of those incidents (so far) and now I try to keep a cloth diaper sort of tucked over during most of the change. The projectile pooping is also impressive, though I assume girls can do that too?

    Molly, your comment cracked me up.

  • ras

    September 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Kate F,

    Yeah, the girls can do that, too. I will never forget the time my first daughter pooped and peed (at the same time) with enough force to hit the wall some six feet away. New motherhood is full of all kinds of strange experiences. Congrats on your little guy!

  • Julie

    September 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

    When diapering for the first 6ish months, make sure you point the penis down. This will greatly reduce in-diaper accidents.
    Once they are sitting/crawling/walking about, gravity will do the work for you.

  • Lin a.k.a. the worst mother!

    September 7, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I have three girls and a boy. My boy, my second child, is now 19 and in his second year at a college far far away. I can tell you this: it is so incredibly wonderful having a boy– he is my baby angel boy no matter how old he is. It is ‘different’ than raising girls, which is an entirely other cool wonderful joyful experience.
    best to you!

  • Candace

    September 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Oh boy my son peed IN HIS MOUTH once. I died, he cried, we all had to take a break and then, oh so quickly I got over it, and the peeing stopped. Seriously, he hasn’t done it in MONTHS now and he is 11 months old 🙂

  • Stacy

    September 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    I have to say that the power of raising a boy who will become a man has turned my parenting of a boy into a great big challenge to patrimony. I saw it most notably when my boy (now 10) was indignant that the women’s gyms during NCAA championship games were empty. And when he identified girls softball as his favorite games to watch.

    Heady stuff.

  • Kim

    September 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Such a lovely answer about boys.   As a girl from a family of all girls who grew up in a neighborhood of all girls, I was ready when our first child was a girl. I was completely at a loss for what to do when our second turned out to be a boy.  It’s such a different world, with the running and hitting and general mayhem he causes, and it’s wonderful.  There is a sweetness to having a boy that I was completely unprepared for, and wanting to eat him whole is a daily occurrence.  Perfect description, Amalah!

  • Kathleen

    September 9, 2010 at 12:29 am

    My 2 mo had to get medication for swimmer’s ear. Really confused the doctor and I didn’t figure it out till I got home – he peed IN HIS EAR and apparently I didn’t get it all out, possibly because I was laughing to the point of tears. Ich. 

    But yes. The destruction, the constantly on GO mode, the mayhem. All there. And all good. Now I’m scared of what to do with little girls…

  • Carrie

    September 9, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    My daughter peed during diaper changes all the time. My son has peed during a diaper change exactly once, pre circumcision. He was circumcised at 8 months when he had surgery to correct his hypospadias. We weren’t going to circumcise but didn’t really get a choice. His penis didn’t form quite right and had to be fixed. The doctors all insist that this is a totally common birth defect, but I can’t find anyone who has ever even heard of it so I have to conclude that it’s really pretty rare.
    Also, the first time we handed him a little car he immediately crawled off pushing it across the floor, like it was instinct. Blew my mind.

  • Whozat

    September 15, 2010 at 2:11 am

    I just have to say, re a previous comment, that you should NEVER pull back the foreskin of an intact (uncircumcized) penis. It is attached to the head of the penis until he’s a toddler (or older) and ONLY the boy himself should do any retraction of it until it detaches naturally. (It will happen gradually, and he’ll know to stop when it hurts.) You do NOT need to clean under the foreskin until it has detached. Just wash it “like a finger” and leave it alone. “Clean what is seen.” (Sorry for the annoying emphases, but that’s a very common misconception that can cause serious pain and injury to little boys.)

  • Sara

    September 15, 2010 at 9:05 am

    ooh thank you Whozat for saying that – I just read a comment above and was racing to say NOOOO do not pull it back. And make sure to tell family, babysitters – whoever may look after your dude that you don’t pull it back. My sister who is a nurse and mother of daughter…went to pull it back.
    And I never got peed on – not once…wonder what’s up with that? As Amalah said…welcome to boys club…it ROCKS!

  • Kirsten

    May 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    This is a few years late, but I was wondering if anyone could answer a question on the same topic:

    My son pees in his hair. A lot. Do I have to wash it with soap and water everytime or just warm water? I don’t want to go damaging his hair and scalp already, but it seems icky to leave it there or just rinse it off.