So, About My Son’s Wee Willy

Whether to circumcise my son after his birth last week was a non-decision. There was no question in our mind about the issue.

I suspect most parents are the same way, regardless of where you fall. We approached the decision with our minds pretty well fixed.

I won’t rehash the pro and con here, except to say the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend all infant boys be circumcised.

Instead, I want to share my own surprise at a big question I hadn’t asked until after the birth: I am circumcised. It’s what I know. How do I care for my baby’s uncircumcised penis?

After all, I’ve often heard that a cut penis is "cleaner" and uncircumcised ones are prone to infection.

The answer was revealing when I requested an informational flyer from a nurse about caring for an intact foreskin.

The flyer, written by a local pediatric practice, devoted both sides of the paper to the pros and cons of the issue and post-circumcision care, but only a paragraph for parents choosing to remain au naturel.

A baby care booklet from our own pediatrician was the same way:

"Care for the Foreskin: At birth, boys have skin that covers the tip of the penis called the foreskin. It usually cannot be fully retracted (pulled back) for several years and it should not be forced back. Once the foreskin can be easily retracted (this can take 2-12 years), it should be pulled back and cleansed with baths."

An anti-circumcision website puts it more simply: "The intact penis needs no special care." Great googly moogly! Okay, that’s a little too simple, but the point is driven home. God / nature did its job well.

Sure, it’s possible for repeated infections to occur if a foreskin is not cared for well and some might then call for circumcision in adolescence, but by and large, this appendage seems pretty well designed to take what life has in store for it.

In my experience so far, baby boys seem easier to care for than baby girls, except for the whole grapefruit squirt thing during diaper changes.

In any case, I won’t end this article with a question. I’m pretty sure everyone has some pretty strong feelings on the issue.

See related: (NSFW) Circumcision Reversal with SenSlip Artificial Foreskin


19 Responses to “So, About My Son’s Wee Willy”

  1. Andrea says:

    Congratulations on the new baby!

    Our second is also a boy, and we also did not choose circumcision. My husband is circumcised, though, and so neither of us knew exactly what to do or not do with the baby penis. “Leave it alone” really is the right answer. However, I’ve been surprised by how many people try to find an exception or a collorary to that rule, or who express concern that somehow my kid’s penis might turn out less than completely normal. The horror stories I have heard about circumcisions that were performed late in life for medical reasons would make you think this is common and not, as is the case, extremely rare.

    My pediatrician even seems hypervigilant about the (rare) possibility of phimosis and repeatedly tells me to encourage my son to push back on his foreskin (he’s 3 1/2 now, and while the skin is starting to loosen, it’s certainly not ready for much retraction). So far, the penis in question seems quite functional and has never given my son the slightest amount of trouble, only a bit of fun every now and then.

    I have a theory, too, that the presence of the foreskin kept my kid from peeing on me during diaper changes, as boy babies have a reputation for doing. Or maybe he’s just an exceptionally considerate child, if you discount the times he pooped on me instead.

    March 27th, 2008 at 7:20 am

  2. Patti says:

    The only thing I’ve found, starting at about 20 months old or so when my son’s foreskin could be mostly retracted without causing him discomfort, is that if there’s been a BIG POO… one that causes a ball beard and more … it can be beneficial to pull back carefully and check the head for stray skid marks. Your mileage on this will vary, of course, as who knows how old your kid will be before the foreskin naturally retracts.

    March 27th, 2008 at 8:04 am

  3. Jim says:

    I used to babysit a little boy that was uncircumcised and I agree with Patti.

    Just watch out for the big poos in a diaper.

    But a good cleanup is all you really need.

    This boy was very sweaty as well. His mother made sure to show me what to look for (dead skin mostly) and how to clean it. He would also get the dead skin in his little fat folds. No big deal.

    People fall where they may on the issue, but fundamentally it leads to the same thing. You are going to clean that thing until he is old enough to clean it for himself no matter which option you choose.

    As for the peeing, make sure he is done before you change him. If you aren’t sure, have your other diaper open and lay it across him while you clean up the last one. When you are ready, a quick reposition has him in a new diaper before he can get you wet.

    March 27th, 2008 at 9:02 am

  4. JMo says:

    “No special care” should be listed in the anti-circumcision “pro” column. With everything else to worry about with a newborn, here’s an easy way to cross something off your list!

    Unfortunately our son’s Midwestern great-grandparents refer to the intact foreskin as “that little mistake we made”. But otherwise, he is perfect. LOL!!!

    March 27th, 2008 at 9:41 am

  5. Cindi says:

    I really don’t have strong feeling on the circumcision debate! My husband does and he is for it. So was our doctor. I didn’t enjoy hearing my babies cry when it was done to them. Cindi

    March 27th, 2008 at 10:36 am

  6. Anji says:

    Here in the UK nobody circumcises, unless there is a genuine medical necessity. When a boy is born it just wouldn’t occur to anyone to chop a bit of him off. ;oP So my son is not circumcised, and neither are any of the men I know (except a friend who had it done age 5 because his foreskin wasn’t growing properly).

    That was a long way of saying – for ‘care instructions’ visit British parenting sites, because the assumption here is that your boy has a foreskin. The information you have is correct however, like the vagina it is a fairly self-cleaning organ and requires only water and mild soap like any other body part. Once it retracts (don’t force the issue, you’ll notice it when he starts getting ‘toddler erections’) teach him to clean under it. My son hates having his foreskin retracted. Our doctor told us that if that’s the case, to leave it alone. In her words “be gentle with it and it’ll stay healthy”. :D

    March 27th, 2008 at 11:03 am

  7. Marianne O. says:

    We’ve got two boys turning 3 years and 1 year old in the next couple of weeks. Both are uncircumcised. Apart from trying to check once in a long while to see if the older boy’s foreskin retracts (still unknown as he doesn’t like us fiddling with it), we haven’t done a single thing to care for their penises beyond the same soap-and-water routine done for all of their other body parts. No trouble at all.

    The way the little one yanks on his penis with every diaper change, though (with a big grin to boot), I’m guessing his will be retractable first. It’s pretty funny to see.

    March 27th, 2008 at 11:13 am

  8. Allison (CodeCrafter) says:

    I’m a little shocked by how common circumcision is in the US even among the “crunchy” set. I hang out with a group of mom’s who are very informed and vocal and lean heavily to the AP/natural parenting end of the spectrum but ALL of them circumcised their boys and none were done for religious reasons! I asked them why and most replied they and their husbands were worried about their son’s being different and getting made fun of or having trouble dating! I was speechless…

    March 27th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

  9. Sandy says:

    My son is uncircumcised, and at 3 1/2, it’s starting to be retractable. For us, it was a small issue to teach him to retract it, because he was scared it would hurt. Of course, it doesn’t, but he didn’t know that. So over the course of a couple weeks, he’s been practicing “turtling” it a little more each day. Now he’s proud that he can do it, so much so that he had to drop his pants and show his female cousin!

    March 27th, 2008 at 12:30 pm

  10. Summer says:

    I’m so glad I have a girl! LOL

    March 27th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

  11. Christy says:

    “Ball Beard.” I have never heard that one before. Thanks Patti!

    I was astounded that we actually sign a piece of paper in the hospital stating that “In the event the baby is a male, we decline the option of circumcision.” Yeah. They wanted to cut him up.

    We had a girl though, so no skin off our noses…

    March 27th, 2008 at 1:26 pm

  12. Kimberly says:

    Just don’t let your pedi push his foreskin back… visit this site for the reasons why.

    Congrats on your baby!

    March 27th, 2008 at 9:08 pm

  13. Matt says:

    I’m circumcised, but was planning to have my son (now 3 months) stay uncircumcised. I read a bunch of literature about the risks of HIV during unprotected sex being significantly reduced with a circumcision, but I still stood by my original decision. I admit that I changed my mind (along with my wife) after hearing some first hand stories from other parents who could not get their kids to clean themselves properly (or the kids were unable to do so) and ended up having to be circumcised at the age of 12, when the procedure is more serious. With the unknowns of the future risks, the warnings we received, and my own “condition”, we ended up going with the circumcision. I can testify that my son was fine, and is a very happy child.

    March 28th, 2008 at 9:08 am

  14. Dani says:

    We were on the fence about what to do. Then Jeffrey was born early and wasn’t able to have it done until near his discharge. It was funny, they asked us about it and my husband and I both kind of looked at each other; he was almost 3 months old at that point. The poor kid had enough crap done to him that it seemed silly to put him through anything more.
    So far he’s two. You can’t retract the foreskin yet and we’ve had no issues.
    Congrats on the new addition!! Boys are fabulous!

    March 28th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

  15. Mackdaddy says:

    Yes, congrats Dad, and Mom, and Big Sister. We have just finished our own “birthday month” with sibs in same order as yours all tho a bit squeezed closer in ages, Sister 7 and Big Boy 5. Our Buddy is also unCut, no issues health or social except old fashioned Grannmomma (MY mother) got one line in 2 years ago when there was a seemingly ongoing generalized (whole body) sensitivity to stimulation (which gave us thoughts/fears about immunization side effects rather than issues about us “not doing the right thing” by him.) We have also been told to retract at bathtime which he has no problems — let the fun begin! Enjoy every moment — it really is a day-by-day eternity that does ZOOM on by !

    March 31st, 2008 at 1:05 am

  16. stacy says:

    Hi! Just wanted to tell you two great things! One, my son is not circumsized either! and two, the Vincent shoes I won from name the baby contest came today and they look like Swedish bowling shoes. we love em!

    Heres to intact forskins and well made shoes!

    April 7th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

  17. Kristen says:

    One thing that may have already been suggested for the ‘grapefruit squirt’ is the “Wee Block.” (There are other versions as well, such as the “PeePee TeePee,” although I like the design of the ‘Block better.) It is a washable sponge that looks somewhat akin to an athletic cup (only softer) and is placed over the penis when changing.

    April 27th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

  18. Toni_Alex says:

    I saw son’s penis as an adult. After a lengthy discussion, we decided this:

    1) He loves playing and masturbating using his foreskin.

    2) He looks much more handsome without it.

    He is genuinely embarrassed how his penis looks yet loves how his foreskin feels. As his mom, I wish I had him circumcised long ago!

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

  19. Chris says:

    Toni_Alex, if it bothers him that much (although you say he enjoys it), then he can choose for himself if the wants to get his foreskin permanently removed; that’s *his* decision (and *only* his), so you made the ethical choice in allowing him to decide for himself.

    September 28th, 2008 at 6:54 am

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