- Signs your daughter is about to start her period
- How to talk to your daughter about her period: 20 questions she might ask
- First period kit: What is it and why does your daughter need one?
The concept of a first period kit is kind of recent, and you probably didn’t have access to one growing up. With increasing awareness regarding menstruation and sustained efforts towards bridging the gender divide, we are now much more open about menstruation than earlier.
A first period kit, also known as a period bag for school, a first period gift set, or a period starter kit, is a simple collection of things your daughter might need when she happens to get her first period, which can occur while she’s at school, during an examination, during a camping trip, etc. Although COVID-19 has largely arrested travel, it is still quite possible for her to experience this in your absence.
I vividly recollect being in the restroom and seeing a blotch of blood on my underwear and telling my mother at 13, confidently, that I’d gotten my first period. I know I was prepared adequately by her for my period, and so felt no taboo to understand this development. Unfortunately, not all of my friends could say the same.
Having access to a first period kit is a cool, modern way of entering physical maturity, and probably one her peers may have access to. As a parent, you needn’t feel pressured into purchasing one, but the concept of having one is something worth acquainting yourself with. If your daughter keeps it with her at all times, it will help her stay prepared, no matter the location, when she gets her first period.
For parents who find conversations about periods awkward, a first period kit is a great way to break the ice.
Although there are commercial first period kits available, it isn’t essential to purchase one, and you could very well put together a little kit of your own. Making one could even be an activity of bonding between mother and daughter.
The components of a first period kit
What you could include in a first period kit could be as follows:
- A cotton pad: With the world turning towards reducing environmental waste, you could invest in a pack of organic cotton pads that are modern and sleek and last up to 5 years or 75 washes. Each woman in her reproductive cycle produces a staggering amount of waste. Cloth pads are economical, safe to use, and reduce the massive load of inorganic waste on our already burdened planet. Plenty of commercial brands have very appealing prints that are trendy and eco-friendly and serve the purpose.
- Alternatively, a pack of sanitised, pre-packed pads that are clean, and stored in a hygienic way.
- A paper bag or envelope or the wrapper of the disposable pad to wrap the used pad.
- Instructions on how to dispose of the pad (if you chose disposable) in a sanitary way, in the appropriate waste disposal container at school or at home.
- A menstrual cup or a tampon: If your daughter is curious about how to use a menstrual cup or a tampon, but is afraid, you could watch a video explaining the how they work together, and for you as a parent, you must know that there are sizes made for teenage girls and those are not painful and do not rupture the hymen.
- A diagram or photo or video tutorial explaining the anatomy of the female genitalia.
- A fresh pair of underwear in case the one she is using is stained or soiled. Give her permission to throw away the soiled one after wrapping it in newspaper or toilet paper as this may be a source of embarrassment for her.
- One or two tablets (not more) of over the counter medication to ease period cramps.
- A small pocket sized mirror to view the anatomy.
- A trusted adult’s contact details in case there is a leak or the child is embarrassed about a period stain or is worried there is something abnormal.
- A mini diary to journal to document her cycle duration or quantity of flow, although there are apps to do the same and tracking is not mandatory. However, it can be a useful tool to generally know one’s own body rhythms and sometimes predict when her next period is coming.
- Anything else you know would bring a smile on your daughter’s face! This is what the commercial first period kits target: including trendy hair accessories, warming pads, socks, cute looking pouches to store the above. These aren’t essential but it’s customizable based on your daughters preferences. Comfortable loungewear is also a thoughtful gift your daughter will appreciate.
- A book or infographic on the science of menstruation and the physical changes she is experiencing in a form that is appealing to her like a graphic novel or a comic story, along with shared experiences of real teens her age. A novel way of doing this could be to add a quirky book of experiences of all the older cousins in the family and their recollections of the first period (a word of caution: do not include any horror stories). Here are some other popular books for girls who are having their first period:
- Are You there, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
- Go with the flow by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams
- The porcupine year by Louise Erdrich
- Revenge of the red club by Kim Harrington
- Just as long as we’re together by Judy Blume
- HelloFlo: The Guide, Period by Naama Bloom
- Bunk 9’s guide to growing up by Adah Nuchi
- It’s so amazing: A book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies and families by Robie H. Harris
- The caring and keeping of you 2: The body book for older girls by Cara Natterson
- Cycle savvy: The smart teen’s guide to the mysteries of her body by Toni Weschler
The most appropriate time to give her this kit would be when you know she has completed the natural sequence of puberty, which is breast development and the appearance of sexual hair, on average between 11-15 years, although there are many girls who now get their periods much earlier from age 9 onward. It could be given as a birthday gift, or if there are a group of teenage girls, it could be handed out at a first period party and one could invite other parents. This way, the experience is a happily shared one.