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How to Buy Your Daughter Her First Bra

Larry Lowe/Lowe Photography

It's not your imagination. Your little girl is growing up faster than you ever imagined.

Kids today are physically maturing at a younger age than ever before. Measureable breast development can start in girls as young as 8 years old. It's highly likely that during the early years of middle school, you will look at your daughter and realize, "Wow! My daughter needs a bra!"

The first bra-buying experience can be as emotional for moms and dads as it is for the girl. My very first sale was to a mom and her 8-year-old daughter, "Celia." When Celia came out of the dressing room, pirouetting in her little white sports-cut bra, both mom and I had tears in our eyes. Celia, on the other hand, was thrilled!

Many first-timers find that shopping for a training bra can be a daunting experience. Bra choices often seem too grown up, and moms and daughters alike may be a bit nervous. Here are some practical tips to make the shopping process easier:

Understand why now

Is your daughter starting to develop and needs support and coverage? Or does she want a bra to fit in socially? Tween girls are regularly changing for gym, going to sleepovers, etc. A bra may be very important for her to feel more at ease in her social group.

Know what you are looking for

Are you looking for something your tween can wear every day or for a special occasion? Will it be worn under a school uniform? On the athletic field? Thinking about this ahead of time can help make a purchase more straightforward.

Remember, you have options

The term "bra" is a loose one for this age group. Many tween girls start with a bralette, which is a soft, unlined piece with a shaped cup. It offers an extra layer under her blouse. Camis and sports-style bras are also great for layering. And if your daughter needs a cup for support, age-appropriate ones really do exist.

Don't worry about padding

Unless you are shopping for a woman's size bra, you probably won't come across padding per se. Most first bras have foam shaping that offers coverage but not bulk. Some bralettes even have foam pad inserts you can remove.

Decide where you want to shop

That big lingerie chain may have pieces that fit, but the environment and the styles are mature and can be overwhelming. Moms tell me they find limited styles and sizes catering to younger or undeveloped tweens in department and clothing stores. This also makes it a challenge to find a style for young girls who are progressing to a B, C, and yes, even a D cup. You may want to consider an online site or an independent lingerie shop. Both offer good selections, a body-positive atmosphere, and just enough hand-holding. Wherever you shop, remember it's a big day, for you as well as for tween daughter! Enjoy it.

Kelly O'Brien is the owner of Linger, an upscale lingerie shop, and she blogs about lingerie at ShopLinger.com. A former teacher, digital marketing executive and adjunct college professor, O'Brien founded LingerTween to offer first bras and more that moms and tweens will both love.

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