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What are some tips for buying my daughter's first bra?

If you're about to embark on your first experience buying a bra for your daughter, there are certain things you should know to make the task easier. First, the term "training bra" doesn't have a precise definition. It just generally refers to any bra that is designed for a girl with little if any breast tissue. Some training bras are merely camisoles with an extra panel, some are like sports bras and are simple pieces of stretchy fabric, and others have a small cup with them.

Second, as you know, women's bras have two numbers or sizes: a band size and a cup size. However, most training bras have only one size, starting at 28 and going to 36, and do not have a cup size. In order to determine the size of the bra your daughter needs, first measure in inches the circumference around your daughter's chest just under her breasts. Then, if this is an even number, add 4 inches. If it's an odd number, add 5 inches. This is the correct training bra size to look for.

If your daughter has developed enough breast tissue so that she needs a bra with a cup, you will need to make an additional measurement. You can determine her cup size by measuring her around her chest at the fullest point of her breasts. You then subtract the band number from this larger number. You will end up with a number that is anywhere between one-half an inch to 10 inches (and, on rare occasions, more than 10 inches). At the store or on the Internet, you'll be able to find a chart that converts the number you've calculated to a specific cup size. For instance, "AA" refers to the smallest cup size.

Needless to say, it will be far more convenient if you take the time to determine your daughter's bra size before leaving home. Trying to guesstimate your daughter's bra size in a crowded store while she's cringing with embarrassment and trying to disappear into the floor isn't likely to be too productive. (This will be particularly true if your son proceeds to provide a running commentary of the event for all his fellow shoppers.)

Unfortunately, however, it's been my experience after browsing in many different stores that there is very little consistency among manufacturers when it comes to bra size. Therefore, despite your best efforts, you still may need to have your daughter try on a bunch of them to get the perfect fit. In doing so, it would be very helpful to find a store that caters to girls and has helpful sales associates. (It also would be helpful to leave your son at home.)

How large will my daughter's breasts get?

Once a girl's breasts begin developing, she understandably will be interested in how big they'll become. However, there's no surefire way to predict. What you can explain to your daughter is that breast size is mainly determined by genetics. As a consequence, there is no potion she can drink and no lotion she can apply that will noticeably affect the size of her breasts. (Trust me, if anyone develops such a product, it will be all over the news!)

Should my adolescent daughter consider breast implants?

If your daughter raises the issue of breast implants, please talk to her candidly and fully about it. Let her know your own thoughts and values regarding this issue. Make sure she realizes that all the Hollywood images of buxom babes don't reflect reality.

And importantly, while being understanding and supportive, make it clear to your daughter that as long as she is an adolescent, you will not even consider letting her get breast implants. Explain to your daughter that getting breast implants involves expensive, invasive surgery. Therefore, it's not something to be taken lightly. Moreover, you should point out that most plastic surgeons will not even consider performing breast surgery on someone who is not an adult. And finally, you should talk to your daughter about feeling positive about the development of her breasts, no matter what their size.

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