After trying to pass off short undershirts as bras (ha!), I let my daughter, Annie*, then 12, pick out five teeny bras, still too big. Days later she smuggled another bunch into daddy's cart at Target. She now has three times as many bras as I do, yet is about as chesty as our Chihuahua-daschund mix.
*Name has been changed.
Puberty Reality Beg though she may for the latest from Aerie, experts say Annie doesn't need a bra for support until there's substantive breast tissue, like a B cup. However, "some girls are very embarrassed about their nipple and areola, which poke out first, being seen. Bras are not just for support—they provide modesty," explains Judith Simms-Cendan, MD, adolescent gynecologist at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, FL. "It's not harmful to start wearing them early." A recent study found that almost half of girls ages 11 to 18 reported their breasts had some effect on their participation in sports. So if your tween is athletic, keep the healthy habit going by buying a few supportive sports bras (look for wide straps) sooner rather than later. Developing breasts can become tender and even chafed, so a sports emollient, such as Body Glide or Ruby's Lube (an all-natural balm), can help reduce friction.