Making up a ‘first period box’ for girls, before they start their periods (known as menarche), helps them to feel prepared and by demystifying products that they may use, the whole experience becomes far less anxious for them. Making up a first period box also allows you to discuss the different selection of sanitary protection (san-pro) available, so that she can make an informed choice about her preferences.
Sanitary options include:
Cloth san-pro – These are sanitary towels or tampons made from fabric – usually cotton or bamboo – that are washed (in the washing machine on a regular cycle) and reused after each use. Towels usually have poppers and ‘wings’, so they can be easily fixed in place, and they come in lots of cool patterns and colours. While the initial outlay is more expensive than it would be for disposables, you soon save money.
Period pants – These are special knickers that have a moisture-wicking-and-retaining lining, meaning that no other protection is needed. They look remarkably like normal underwear and come in a range of sizes and colours. Like cloth sanpro, the initial outlay is expensive, but you save money in the long run. Sometimes they are used as an added layer of extra protection, like towels or tampons, to prevent ‘leakage’, which can be particularly useful while at school if your tween has an especially heavy or erratic flow (which is common initially).
Menstrual cups – Soft cups, usually made from silicone or latex, these are inserted into the vagina and collect menstrual blood. They need to be regularly emptied but can be washed and reinserted. They are usually cheap to buy.
Regular sanitary towels – These are the disposable stickon towels that most are familiar with, although you can buy special tween/teen-sized ones. Many of the main companies will send free samples if you request them on their websites, so your tween can find the one they are most comfortable with.
Tampons – Again, one of the two most mainstream choices, alongside regular sanitary towels. Here, your tween can choose between a tampon that comes with an applicator (a special tube that can make insertion easier) or a non-applicator type, where the tampon has to be inserted with the fingers. Once again, most of the well known manufacturers offer free samples on their websites.
What Should you put in a First Period Box?
Although several companies sell ‘first period’ boxes, I prefer to make my own, not only because it is cheaper, but because you can personalise what I included. Here are some ideas:
* A selection of sanitary protection.
* Some new comfy knickers (including spares to keep in their bag in case of any leaks).
* Some wipes, in case of any accidents and if hand-washing facilities aren’t available when changing protection.
* A hot-water bottle or heat pad, in case of discomfort.
* Some snuggly socks . . . just because (who doesn’t feel more comfortable in soft socks?). *A couple of bars of favourite chocolate
*A fun face mask (of the cosmetic, not Covid type).
*Some little motivational quote cards.
*A bottle of favourite bubble bath or shower gel.
*Some herbal or fruity tea bags, or hot chocolate sachets.
*A packet of tissues.
*A small gift – e.g: some hair ties or a favourite body spray.
And finally….*A book about puberty if she doesn’t already have one.
When Should You Make a Period Box?
It’s a good idea to make a first period box either before, or as soon as you see the first signs of puberty. I would aim to make one by the time your daughter turns 9 years of age, but don’t hold back giving it to her – or explaining the contents – until she starts her period though, the earlier she has it the better. Explain what the items are for and suggest she might want to keep some items in her school bag, just in case her periods begin while she is at school. Most importantly though, this means she will have everything ready, which means that if you are not around at the all important time, you can trust that she doesn’t have to try to find whatever she needs herself. This gives girls an element of control which I think is useful for helping them to prepare for their menarche.
This article was adapted from BETWEEN – If you have a tween, or soon-to-be tween, and you’d like to learn how to approach puberty, behaviour, education, relationships, screens, sleep, body-care, raising them to be an ally and more – then you may want to check out Between – *the* guide for parents of 8-13 year olds. Available to order now in the: UK, Australia, USA/Canada and Elsewhere in the world
Or watch my videos on YouTube
You can also sign up for my free parenting newsletter HERE.