Q&A: daughter's discovered her hot button

Kelly writes:

"I have a 10-month-old daughter who seems to have discovered hergenitals.  Really discovered.  Unlike her older brother who discovered his at about the same age during diaper changes, she connected while in the new Peg Perego Aria.  It seems that there is just the right, well, pressure when strapped in.  She has begun these repeative leg rotations that will go on for hours (we went to an outdoor fair on Saturday).  She gets very red in the face and is basically in another zone (not responsive to me in her usual fashion).  Since Saturday, I've also noticed her putting pressure on her crotch both hands and rotating her legs while in her crib.

I don't want to be a prude.  Heck, if I could get Toyota to put the same kind of strap in the Sienna, I might consider it as an option.   With her brother, I was a bit proud of his discovery and didn't stop his exploration.  I never felt I had to as once he was re-diapered, his attention seemed to focus elsewhere.  I think I want to have the exact same reaction here, but I'm not.  I keep thinking what great stomach mucles she's going to have with all that leg/stomach work (another reason I too would wish for a Mommy version).

With her brother, it seemed to be a phase and after a week or so, he no longer seemed focused on his penis (any more than his toes or knees), so I want to just wait it out.  She is not in any kind of a day care situation, so I know there is nothing going on that has started this behavior. 

Do I just ignore it with a smile?  Do I take her out of the stoller when it starts (it starts immediately upon being placed in the stroller)? Could this be an idication of some other issue (a urinary infection)?"

Remember a few years ago when the Harry Potter craze was at its zenith, and there was that Harry Potter broomstick that vibrated? They couldn't figure out why it was so popular with teenage girls until someone stepped back and thought about it. And then all the parents and marketing execs freaked out about it and pulled it from the market? Ah, good times. I'm just guessing Peg Perego isn't going to use this to market the Aria. ("Better than the Toyota Sienna or the Jackrabbit...")

Now, I am a girl, obviously, but I don't remember far back enough to recall what it was like to discover my own special purpose. Being the mother of two boys, I will say that it surprises me to hear that your son stopped being obsessed with his penis after a few weeks. From what I've observed, it's a love affair that starts as an infant and continues for 70 years or so for many many men.

But back to your daughter: I think this could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, but isn't necessarily one. My first move would be to call your pediatrician's office and explain to them that you just want to rule out a UTI. She'll probably have to come in and get checked out and give a urine sample. Who knows if it is indicative of a UTI in her case, but you definitely want to rule it out so the poor thing can get treated if she's got one.

I need a minute. Just the thought of a UTI is sending that nasty shiver down my back. Gah.

Ok, I'm back. Now if it turns out not to be a UTI, then it sounds like she's just discovered the zone. As long as she's not in the stroller for hours a day, it's probably not doing any harm. The only thing I can think of that would be a cause for concern would be if she was focusing on masturbation to the exclusion of other things like crawling and play with toys and other normal developmental tasks for 10-month-olds. But if she's still doing all her other normal baby things, then she's probably just building some neural pathways that are going to come in very handy (I apologize sincerely--I just couldn't resist that pun) when she's older.

Of course there's also the social issue. You can explain to a three-year-old that there are things you do in private only, but you can't get that through to a baby. So if you're going to be somewhere that people would be scandalized by her stroller activities, you might want to bring her in a body carrier instead of the stroller just to avoid the issue. Or bring along a radio and tell people she's dancing to the music.

Moms of girls? Does anyone have anything to offer on this one? Is there some hidden danger to masturbation (other than hairy palms and certain blindness) that I'm not aware of?