How to Avoid Panic When Answering "Where Do Babies Come From?"
- Amanda Idleman Contributing Writer
- 2020 25 Aug
“Where do babies come from?”
A dreaded question for most parents! It always takes you by surprise and normally your initial response is a frantic push to quickly change the topic.
The first time my oldest son asked us about how babies left me questioning everything about my responses and praying I did not scar him for life!
He was five years old and we were spending a lot of time learning about animals and their young. He has learned that males and females had to come together to create a baby animal.
He took that revelation and extended it to people and asked how the male sperm mixed with the female egg. It was his sheer scientific curiosity that stumbled us into an uncomfortable conversation about sex. He is a few years older and the talks on this subject don’t get any easier but thankfully I am now more prepared when these sorts of questions arise.
"Where Do Babies Come From?" What Causes Kids to Ask This Question?
Usually, the first time this question is asked by young kids is when they are just starting to understand that something has to happen in order for a baby to come into this world. Sometimes a soon-to-arrive sibling can spark interest in how they got into Mom’s tummy in the first place.
Even just exposure to nature and learning about baby animals (as was the case with my son) can lead to questions about their own beginnings. This curiosity is natural and us as parents should be prepared with good answers when these questions come up.
Why is it important that parents don’t shy away from this uncomfortable topic? How do we answer this question with our young children well? What do they really need to know and what do we want to strategically emphasize as we approach this very important topic?
These are all questions we are going to explore!
Why Do You Need to Answer Their Question?
When you were growing up, your first encounter with the “birds and bees” talk may have been in middle school health class with no follow up from your parents. Sex has not been a topic comfortably addressed in families but parents should take the lead on having this discussion with their kids.
Parents should want to be the ones that their kids feel safe asking these sorts of questions as they mature.
If you start the conversation young it will be much easier to continue building on this dialogue as your kids age and consequently, the discussion gets more complex.
A simple answer works for a five-year-old but when your child approaches adolescents their questions will naturally get more complex. If you set the precedent of talking openly about sex at a young age, there will be an open door for the conversation to continue as they grow.
As kids age they will naturally be exposed to more sexual information and showing you are willing to talk with them about their sexuality says to them this is a topic that is okay to discuss at home. It is in the best interest of your child that they gather information on this topic from a trusted source rather than Google or their peers.
Parents should be a safe place to get accurate and reliable information from. Plus, if you talk about sex in a way that shows honor to God, your kids will not grow up with the impression the sex is something to be ashamed of, but is something that is sacred.
How to Explain "Where do babies come from?" to Different Ages
A tip is to remember this initial question is not actually about sex. Young kids do not need to know the details of sexual intercourse. Initially, a simple explanation is all they need and all their developing brains can handle.
One good response to such a question is saying "from a special place in a Mommies body near their tummy. It’s fine if you want to name the anatomy using terms like “uterus” but most likely they won’t have the ability to understand yet what that means. A tender and concise answer is all they need to know that this is a topic you are willing to address with them.
If they are asking “How are babies made?” you could expand on the answer a bit more. A simple explanation is that a special part from a Mommy and a Daddy come together to make a baby.
Dr. Laino explains that for 2 to 3 year olds your response can stay very basic. You child is not asking about sex. Just let them know babies come from love, no need to get technical. For 3-4 year olds, you can begin including information about an egg and a seed. Their observations about plants will help this make some sense to them.
Elementary-aged kids may be ready for more details but use your discretion on their maturity level and let that be your guide for the conversation. Kids 8 and up start needing more information because it becomes much more likely they will be exposed somewhere along the line with this information from others. It’s best that you give them a framework of information to help them understand when they are presented with the “facts of life” from elsewhere.
When my son made this connection at five, I explained that the Mommy has an egg and Daddies have sperm that come together and then can make a baby. I added that this is what we call sex. I used the word sex when talking to my son because I wanted him to first hear it from me but honestly, at five, he had no clue what I was actually talking about.
Since then, he has had other questions or encounters with pictures that seemed provocative that have slowly furthered the conversation. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I have been able to talk through these things with him.
I want my kids to always feel like we can be honest and talk freely with my husband and I about their sexuality as they grow.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Talking Points for Parents of Preschoolers
Focus on the Family lays out a framework to talk through this issue with your preschooler. First emphasize God’s creation of the family. You can talk about the first family and how God started out with Adam and Eve as a pair and said that it was good for them to be together.
While families aren’t perfect they are the institution God has chosen to grow new life from. Next, parents can share how God uses Mommies and Daddies to make babies. This is a chance to emphasize what a beautiful gift it is to have the chance to bring babies into this world and add to God’s amazing Creation.
You can then expound on the conversation by discussing the fact that Mommies get pregnant.
Psalm 139:13-14 are great verses to read with your child to illustrate how God’s love for each person begins in the womb. Talk about how God has designed each person to be unique and loves all people.
Finally, let them know that Mommies and Daddies are both needed to make a baby. Discuss how it is God’s great design is for both a Mom and Dad to be a part of both creating and nurturing a child. If your family structure is different then you can add that sometimes families look different and that’s okay. God loves every family!
Resources to For Your Conversation
Continue the conversation by reading about baby animals and how different babies come into the world throughout the animal kingdom. You can discuss how baby birds hatch from eggs, frogs transform from an egg to a tadpole to a baby frog, and God in his great design made it so a Mom and Dad have to come together to create a human baby.
For young kids, they are first able to understand nature and it’s cycles before they have the ability to grasp the complexity of human reproduction.
Drawing together a story of how your kids came to being is a fun family activity. You can share how you and your spouse met, your wedding, and then the gift they received when they finally got to meet your kids. If your story is different such as one that includes adoption or you are a single parent this is a chance to talk through how these special circumstances have only grown your love for them.
This conversation is one that should be centered around your family unit and how it is a loving, safe, and beautiful place for you to grow up in.
There are some great kids' books that can help you better navigate this talk. Christianbooks.com sells a boy and girl version of Where Do Babies Come From by Ruth Hummel. These books introduce the topic of sexuality in a simplistic and age-appropriate way for kids ages 6 to 8 years old.
Where Do Babies Come From? board book is a delightful way to share the facts of life with preschoolers. It includes examples from nature as well as talks about how baby humans are formed too.
For kids ages 7 and up It’s So Amazing! by Robie H. Haris is an accurate but age-appropriate book for kids to share the basics of reproduction.
Even if you panic the first time this question arises and fumble around your words, it’s okay!
This is a conversation that grows over time and next time they innocently ask about how babies come into this world you can answer with more intentionality. Just remember simple, honest, and not too much.
Kids' abilities to grasp human reproduction does not come all at once so don’t feel that you have to answer every question in depth to start. Take it one step at a time and then when they need to know more or are ready for all the details then you take the time to help them understand human sexuality as best you can.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/PRImageFactory
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.