The best training bras (aka junior bras) make a comfortable, easy transition to adult bras when an undershirt just doesn’t cut it anymore. Let’s face it, puberty is hard. There are zits to battle with endless acne treatments, the task of learning to shave, plus all the other physical (let alone emotional) changes a maturing body goes through. The journey to adulthood can be downright awkward, which is why finding the right training bra will keep your tween comfortable and confident. Junior bras don’t just provide some support, but really their primary job is to conceal and cover. Whether it’s a transparent training bra that’s invisible under clothes or a pretty, delicate bralette for girls, this guide will help you find the perfect training bra for. your kiddo.
Around the time that 90s cartoons were still on the air, we remember (not very fondly) our first experiences with training bras. Stiff white polyester with clasps that felt like only a magician could hook. And don’t get us started on how they made our budding chest look bigger (and more cone-shaped – and not in a not a cool Madonna way, either). So mortifying! Lucky for girls now, those are the training bras of their mother’s (ahem, our) past. But luckily, today’s best training bras are soft, moveable, easy to slip on, and actually cute.
Are training bras really necessary?
According to Pediatrician and puberty expert, Dr. Cara Natterson, while training bras aren’t necessary, they can be very beneficial for tweens! Dr. Natterson is also the co-founder of OOMLA, author of the best-selling series The Care and Keeping of You, and a fellow Mama.
“New breast tissue can be exquisitely tender, so having some material between the skin and a tee-shirt or sweater makes a big difference for some girls,” Dr. Natterson says. “And when something or someone knocks into growing boobs – like a ball to the chest during sports or an accidental elbowing while hanging out with friends – a bra can reduce the ouch factor.”
Dr. Natterson mentions that there are great emotional benefits to training bras as well. For one, minimizing obvious body changes can do a lot for a tween.
“If girls feel better about themselves because their new curves aren’t quite as obvious, that self-esteem bump should be recognized,” she adds.
When should my daughter start wearing a bra?
When exactly to introduce a training bra can vary, but the average age tweens begin wearing bras is around 11-years-old, which is when the early stages of puberty usually begin. But remember, everyone is different! Some tweens may need them much earlier (sometimes as early as age 7), and others may not need one until they’re teenagers. Remember to listen to your tween and keep an open dialogue so they know they can ask when they think it’s time!
Which bra is best for tweens?
A first bra should make them feel comfortable and confident. For maximal comfort, Dr. Natterson suggests looking for training bras made from super soft, cotton-based fabric (synthetic material can hold onto odors and no one wants that!).
“The straps should fit across the shoulders without digging in or falling off. Look for smooth, stretchy elastic to avoid irritation by clips, clasps, or rough edges,” Dr. Natterson adds. She also suggests steering clear of sewn-on bows or anything else that will make the bra noticeable through clothing.
“Perhaps most importantly, the bra should gently compress growing breast tissue without binding it, helping to minimize sensitivity in the area and maximize confidence,” she explains. “Big bulky pads don’t do the job here…the ideal first bra is one that wraps gently around the chest.”
For a tween on the shier side, finding a transparent training bra that blends seamlessly under t-shirts can make all the difference. But other young adults will feel more confident in something that celebrates their femininity, like a lacy bralette for girls. Got an athlete in your house? There are also fantastic options for those sporty kiddos who are always ready to run. Regardless of the junior bra style you’re looking for, one thing’s for sure: Your preteen will feel more comfortable in their own skin when you find the best training bra for them.
Check out the best training bra options below!
Editor’s note: We’ll be using female pronouns throughout, but these picks are perfect for any tween or teen looking for the right training bra.
Best Training Bras
Give your preteen the support she needs with the seamless pull-on training bra from Hanes. The design offers all-day, stay-in-place comfort. The removable foam cups and adjustable straps allow her to customize this bra for her most confident fit. “Good starter bra,” reviews a parent on Amazon. “My ten-year-old says they are super comfortable and I like the look it accomplishes. It smoothed her front without bulk so she’s not self-conscious. Some clothing she has was on a thinner side, so it also eliminated the need for an undershirt. I feel like her posture got better because she’s not slouching trying to hide, too.” Yes Mama, you can help give her the coverage and confidence to stand up tall and tackle the day.
Of course the uber-popular sportswear brand Athleta understands women at every age — enough to create the ultimate training bra, suitable for sports and everyday life for preteens. This bra is so popular with tween and teen girls that Athleta has recently released the latest iteration, of the All Day Bra. Keeping the same beloved Y-back shape for easy movement, the All Day Bra 2.0 features added back ventilation and sports the Powervita fabric (the most buttery-soft fabric in the Athelta Girl lineup). “Excellent first bra for my 9-year-old. A perfect, comfortable fit. We will be ordering more,” reviews one mom on the Athleta website. Another mom raves, “The best bra for tweens. My two daughters love the All Day Bras, as they are comfortable and provide excellent coverage!”
Keep your little princess feeling like royalty with the cropped cami training bra pack from Sweet Princess. Made of soft, naturally breathable cotton, these unpadded junior bras will keep her covered without adding extra volume. “My daughter loves these,” reviews one parent on Amazon. “They are [made of] a comfortable t-shirt type material and easy for her put on. A great first bra! And the colors are bright and have not faded after several washes.” Regardless if she’s more of a neutral lady, loves a pretty pastel, or likes her clothes to shine brighter than her smile, she will find the hue and 10-pack that’s right for her. Plus, with 10 bras in a set, there will always be a clean cami in her drawer — now that is music to Mama’s ears.
The OOMBRA was designed by Dr. Natterson, pediatrician and author of The Care and Keeping of You series. “Using a patented design, it combines super soft materials with just the right amount of stretch across the chest,” Dr. Natterson says. “It’s the only bra on the market that flips from a nude side (with many shades of nude for many shades of girl) to a print side, so girls wear it the way they want, boosting confidence and individuality.”
Transparent Training Bras
Looking for an invisible option? The Simply Adorable girls training bra comes in a variety of neutral tones to blend in under clothes. The cotton pullover junior bra is so incredibly comfortable for new bra wearers that some girls even sleep in theirs. “Perfect for what we need,” reviews one mom on Amazon. “It is so hard to find non-padded training bras for a 9-year-old. These are perfect. She’s already growing so fast as it is, I didn’t want a padded bra adding more that isn’t there yet. Her nipples do not show through and the color selection is great to hide under her clothes, even her basketball tank tops.” The simple styling and modern color combos make these unpadded training camis the perfect first step into the world of bras. Available in a variety of 5-pack color combinations, you and your little lady will have no trouble finding the color that best suits her — it’s making the decision on which pack to buy that might be hard.
If you’re looking for a junior bra that’s more like a “real” bra and less like a trainer, your search ends here. Pepper, the industry-disrupting intimate company that services women with small chests, has one of the best transparent bras on the market for tweens, teens, and adults. The limitless wire-free bra is not only available in sizes running from XXS to XXL, but comes in a range of skin tone colors from coral to cocoa, guaranteeing this beginner bra is completely transparent under clothes. Like the perfect pair of yoga pants for your chest, these soft, molded bra cups are actually designed to be shallower for AA, A, and B size chests. This means she won’t be tugging, pulling, or constantly adjusting her junior bra. They’re also ethically manufactured in Columbia, so you’ll feel good buying a great product from a virtuous brand. In fact, Mama, if your cup size is on the smaller side, you may want to grab one for yourself, too.
Bralettes For Girls
Help your kiddo express that colorful personality of hers with the Alyce Intimates Seamless Bralette 6-pack in cheerful brights. These nylon spandex bralettes offer all day comfort with a tag-free design and adjustable straps. Plus, she won’t be tugging at her bra, thanks to the wide bottom band that keeps it in place. “These bras are fantastic and perfect for my 9-year-old daughter!!” raves one parent on Amazon. “She loves how soft they are and the bright colors and patterns are so much fun for her! She says they are way more comfortable than the more expensive namebrand ones! The colors have not faded at all and they wash fantastically. No pilling or fading at all after lots of wearing and machine washing. I will most definitely be purchasing these again!” She will love the feminine touch of lace detailing while Mom will appreciate the easy care (fully machine washable) and multi-pack sets for every day of the week.
These U-shaped bralettes are great for anyone, but they’re especially ideal for pre-preteens just looking for something simple and casual to wear under shirts. “Calvin Klein is the best,” reviews one mom on Amazon. “I bought two of these packs for my daughter who likes her shirts a little long and baggy. She doesn’t like the inverted V-shape tops on a lot of the training bras — looks too grown up — and those teeny straps have a way of breaking and twisting and being annoying. I love Calvin Klein bras for myself and was so happy to find these. She wants me to buy her four more so she can have one for every day of the week.” This breathable bralette from CK is the ultimate in cotton comfort for tweens who aren’t fans of all the frills. Reminiscent of the CK underwear that has been cool since the 1980s, this Calvin Klein bralette sports the ever-cool wide logo band that’s just like Mom’s.
It’s no surprise that one of our favorite training bra options is a bralette for girls from one of the most widely-available lingerie brands in the US. After almost 100 years of outfitting American women, Maidenform is making sure the youngest of ladies find support with their junior bras. Sporting the racerback styling, this training bra will be your tween’s go-to for summer tank tops. “Perfect for a young girl beginning her bra journey!” raves an Amazon customer. “The material, lace, stitching, and hardware are all supremely comfortable. We ordered with the understanding that if the padding was ‘too much,’ we would return. But we were pleased to find that the padding is appropriate and the petals can even be removed for washing. Very well-made and comfortable — just right! We would highly recommend it.” Not only will she feel extra special with the added touch of lace down the back, but the soft seamless design sports a special ruched bust to guarantee a flawless fit.