Infant boys and girls can both develop swollen tissue that resembles miniature breasts. You may be a bit disconcerted to see that your baby has what looks to be developing breasts, but breast buds in infants shouldn't be an immediate cause for concern. Breast buds in infants are typically superficial and will disappear with time.
Swollen breast tissue in infants is caused by the mother’s hormones coming across the baby’s placenta just before the baby is born, according to Heidi Murkoff, B.S.N., author of "What to Expect: The First Year." Your baby may also seem to be making milk that comes out of his nipples. That too is superficial and caused by this hormone exchange from mother to baby.
According to Dr. Shanna R. Cox, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at University of California-Irvine School of Medicine, breast buds in infants are usually about 2 to 3 cm across. The breast buds should not be red or hot but instead be the color and the temperature as the rest of her skin. Breast buds that are red or hot to the touch can indicate a medical concern and should be examined by your doctor.
Many people believe that these breast buds are actually the beginnings of growing breasts, which isn’t the case. Nothing is growing, Dr. Murkoff asserts, just swollen. This swelling can be especially concerning for parents of boys since it does give the child the appearance of breasts. Parents of chubbier babies may also worry that the breast buds are fat deposits; this likely isn’t the case in infants but could be in toddlers and preschoolers.
Breast buds can appear any time after birth and usually last less than six months, according to Dr. Cox. Breast buds can also grow in toddlers, particularly toddler girls; however, you may want to discuss any concerns you have about your older child having breast buds with your medical professional.
If your child develops body odor, pubic hair or any other sign of puberty while these breast buds are present, talk with your pediatrician to make sure your child doesn’t have another hormonal issue. A 2008 study published in the “Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition” found that soy products may increase your child’s chances of developing breast buds. The breast buds of children drinking soy milk may last longer than the typical time frame of less than six months.
- "What to Expect: The First Year"; Heidi Murkoff, B.S.N.; 2003
- The Informed Parent: Premature Breast Development in Infants and Toddlers
- “Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition”; Zung A., et al; February 2008