Medical Q&As

Child with erection - abnormal?

When I bring my 4-year-old out to the toilet at nighttime he has what appears to be an erect penis. Is this natural?

It is quite likely that your son had an erection when you woke him to bring him to the toilet. Penile erection during sleep is very common from early childhood onwards and can be considered to be quite normal. Erection occurs during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the phase of sleep when dreaming occurs. However, in the case of a small child the erection during REM sleep is physiological and is not due to dream content.