Inside: Learn how to explain ‘how babies are made’ to kids in a child-friendly way that gives them the right amount of information.
You’re not alone if you’re struggling with explaining how babies are made (or sexual intercourse).
Maybe your child has asked ‘How was I made?’ or ‘How are children made?’.
And you just don’t know how to answer them.
Do you tell the truth?
( Hang on… is your child even the right age for the birds and bees talk?)
But guess what!
You’re not alone as lots of parents struggle with explaining how babies are made (or sexual intercourse).
At some time – either now or in the not so far future –you’re going to have to talk to your child about sex.
And yes, that can be a pretty scary thought!
What if I say too much?
Won’t they lose their innocence?
What if they ask me a question?
Sometimes it can feel as if there are more reasons to NOT talk to your child about sex than there are reasons to talk. (You can read more in this blog post about the reasons why you should be talking to your child about sex.)
Well, I’m sorry to break the bad news, but your child is already learning about sex.
As soon as kids start watching the television, listening to the radio, hopping on the internet and start mixing with other kids, your child will start to see and hear different messages about sex.
And often the messages that they receive messages about sex are usually inaccurate, misleading and confusing. The sorts of things that you don’t want your child remembering.
So, whether you like it or not, you are going to have to start talking to your kids about sex! So the sooner that you learn how to explain sex to kids, the better!
(If you want to learn more about how to talk to your child about sex, you’ll find lots more information in my Sex Education 101 page.)
Is my child old enough to understand sex?
A lot of parents worry about whether their child is old enough to know about sex.
It’s a valid fear and is a question I have asked myself at times as well. When talking to my own children!
So if you have some lingering doubts about whether your child is old enough (or not), then you should read this article and complete the quiz to find out if your child is the right age to talk about the birds and bees.
You might be surprised by what you find!
But at the end of the day, if they’re old enough to ask the question, then they’re old enough to hear the answer?
And isn’t it better that they get accurate facts from you? Before they start hearing all these crazy stories from their friends?
So when should I start?
Most kids are curious about how babies are made when they are 4 or 5 years old. Some kids might be curious sooner than this, or even later. And some kids aren’t curious at all. Every child is different, and that’s okay!
So ideally, you should start to explain how babies are made (or sex) to kids in the preschool years. When they are naturally curious and wondering about how I was made.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret.
It isn’t sex that they’re curious about.
Kids just want to know how they came to exist ie how did they get made (or created).
So to them, sex is just something that adults can do to make a baby.
We are just answering their questions about where babies come from, how they are made and how they get in.
And sex is just a mechanical thing.
It isn’t until they reach puberty, that kids start to become curious about sex.
How to explain sex to kids
Now, when looking at how to explain sex to kids, it is important to remember that it is a conversation that happens very slowly and gradually over a number of years.
As kids will often forget what we tell them. Which means we need to keep on repeating ourselves.
How many times do you have to tell your kids to not leave their towel lying on the bathroom floor?
Plus kids don’t really understand what we mean when we start talking about penises going to vaginas. So they either get bored and tune out. Or they quickly forget what we said (as it didn’t make much sense to them).
So when answering questions like ‘How was I made” or ‘How are children made’, you need to be prepared to repeat the conversation.
It isn’t one big awkward conversation. It is lots of small conversations that happen for a long time!
So don’t feel as if you have to get it right the first time. Or tell them everything in one conversation!
And if you’re needing some extra help, my parent guide – How to Talk to Kids About Sex, can help.
Where do babies come from?
So the first question that kids usually ask is about where do babies come from.
Try to keep the answer basic and just tell them that they came from inside your tummy (or uterus if they are ready for more technical terms). There is plenty of time to add in the details as they grow older!
How are babies made?
Once they understand that, they usually move onto wanting to know how babies are made.
Again you can keep it simple and just tell them that you need a part from a man (cell or sperm) and a part from a woman (cell or egg) to make a baby. That is all that they really need (or want) to know.
You can find more detailed information in this article about how to explain where babies come from.
How do the egg and sperm meet?
And then, kids usually want to know how the egg and the sperm meet. Or how the part from the man got inside the woman.
So you can tell them that the sperm leaves the man through his penis and goes into the woman’s vagina. The sperm finds the egg, they join together and a baby is made.
When talking to your kids about sex, don’t forget to let them know that sex is just for adults and not for kids.
And relax, your child is totally fine with hearing about this. Remember, they just see it as a mechanical thing or just another ‘weird thing’ that adults do.
The more you talk, the easier it gets
As parents, explaining sex to kids can initially feel a bit tricky. We all feel awkward and uncomfortable when we first start something new.
Can you remember what it was like when you brought your first baby home? How awkward you felt when changing their nappies, and how those first nappies used to fall off (and leak)? And then a few weeks later (after lots of practice), you could put a nappy on your child that stayed on and never leaked!
Talking to kids about sex is a similar thing.
You feel really awkward at the beginning, but eventually, you get accustomed to it. You may still feel uncomfortable, but the level of discomfort will decrease over time. So how to explain sex to kids does get easier over time.
The important thing to remember though, that it isn’t just about what you teach your child. It is the fact that you are talking about the tricky stuff that matters.
If you can talk to your child about sex, they will know that they can talk to you about anything. It will open the doors for ongoing conversations about anything – the things that parents want to know about.
Tips for explaining sex to kids
Before you get started with explaining how babies are made, there are a few things that you need to remember.
- Embarrassment is normal. The more you talk, the sooner that you will feel more comfortable with the whole thing.
- You can’t give them too much information. Well, technically you can give them too much information, but it doesn’t matter if you do. Kids promptly forget anything they don’t understand or aren’t ready to hear. As long as you explain things at the same level of understanding as you usually do, you’ll be fine!
- KISS – Keep It Super Simple. Try to explain sex in the same way that you would explain how milk is made.
- Small, frequent, repeated chats. We no longer have just the one talk about sex, it is about many chats over the whole of childhood.
- Say ‘I don’t know’ if you don’t know the answer to their question. If you don’t know the answer to their question, tell your child that you’ll get back to them later with an answer. And make sure that you do!
- Share your values and beliefs about sex. Start letting your child know what sexual behaviours and attitudes are okay and not okay in your family. And make sure that you also explain why you feel this way.
Resources to help with talking about sex
My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.
Which means that inside this website, you’ll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about love, sex, relationships and growing up.
My Sex Education 101 page includes all of the information on sex education. You’ll find lots of different blog posts to help with getting started, on a wide range of different topics – bodies, consent, diversity, porn, sexual intercourse and more.
You’ll find videos about sex ed in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about sex education yourself.
You’ll also find an extensive range of sex education books for children, for kids of all ages. There are even some books in there for parents!
If you’re looking for some ideas on how to talk to your child about bodies, How to Talk to Kids About Bodies, will help you to start naming the private body parts and to have shame-free conversations with them about bodies. It is filled with lots of different ideas on how to have natural conversations with your child about their body.
You’ll also find some child-friendly anatomically-correct cartoon illustrations of the genitals and internal reproductive organs that are appropriate for children from the age of 3 and up. Let’s Look at Different Body Parts is a printable that will help take the awkward out of talking to your child about their body, so they grow up feeling educated, confident, and comfortable in their own skin.
Or if you’re looking for an activity that you can sit down and complete with your child, then you may want to look at my activity books. They are perfect for starting natural conversations whilst your hands are busy.
If you need some help with explaining sexual intercourse to your child, then How to Talk to Kids About Sex, will help you explain sex to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks sex down into simple steps that take the stress out of explaining!
If you’re unsure about how to answer your child’s questions about sex, then I have a number of different resources that will give you word-for-word answers that are age-specific.
If you want a printed book to hold in your hands, then The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid’s ask parents about sex. Which means you don’t need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands.
If you want the answers to questions about a lot more than just sex, then Sex Ed Quickies is your best option. This web-based app has answers to 300+ questions that kids commonly ask parents, including how babies are made, sexual intercourse, body parts, puberty, relationships, pregnancy, birth, masturbation, sexual diversity, gender, pornography, STIs, contraception and much more.
And if you get stuck, feel free to get in touch! You can contact me here.