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Where do babies come from? Tips on how to start explaining

Where do babies come from?’ is one of those questions that most parents will be asked at some time and place. If you’re lucky, you won’t be asked whilst you’re lined up in a busy queue, waiting to buy an icecream!

So, if you haven’t already been asked that question, now is the perfect time to get ready before you are asked!

Why do kids like to ask that dreaded question

Kids ask this question because eventually, they want to understand where they came from. They want to know where they were before they were born. Working out where babies come from (or where they come from) is one of the greatest mysteries that they want to solve.

Kids first start to notice pregnancy and babies when they’re around 3 to 4 to even 5 years of age. They’ll start to think about where they were before they were born. Were they a baby too? To satisfy their curiosity they’ll begin to ask questions about babies. Because they are trying to understand how they happened.

You’ll find more information about sex education in my Sex Education 101 page.

Why you need to answer their question

There are a number of reasons why you need to answer the question ‘Where do babies come from’ or ‘Where did I come from?’

  1. It is actually much easier to explain it to your kids when they are younger. They only need a simple answer when they are young whereas a ten year needs a lot more information. So it is a good ideas to start talking about this stuff when it is easier. Which means that by the time you get to the tricky stuff, it’ll be a lot easier as you’ll be a lot more used to talking about sex stuff.
  2. You want your kids to see you as their number once source for information. And for some strange reason, answering questions like ‘Where do babies come from’, let’s kids know that you are okay talking about the stuff that other adults squirm about. As your child grows older, they will be exposed to sexual information that you have no control over. So you want them to know that if they hear anything that they don’t understand, that you are the person to come to! Not their friends, not google. This way you can make sure that your child receives the right information and you can correct any misinformation that they hear.
  3. By ignoring their question you are giving your child the message that you are not okay to talk about sex and possibly even other tricky stuff (like bullying, inappropriate sexual touch, etc). Which means that they won’t come to you with their questions. And they also won’t be telling you about the stuff that is worrying them. Which means that they won’t be worrying about it on their own.

How to explain ‘Where do babies come from’ to your child

Now, before you even think about what to say, you need to remember one thing! The question ‘Where do babies come from’ isn’t about sex. Kids that ask their question don’t want to know the nitty gritty details of how babies are made (ie sex) they just want to know the basics. They just want to know where they came from, how they were made and how they came out.

And, luckily for you, kids usually only want one snippet of information at a time. So, a 3 year old may want to know where babies come from but usually won’t want to know how the baby got inside, just yet. Their brain and how they understand things just isn’t advanced enough for that type of information, just yet! And remember every child is different! Some kids may not be curious about where babies come from until they are 4 or 5 or even older. Some kids never ask!

Where do babies come from?

‘You came from a special place inside me, near my tummy’.

The answer can be as simple as that! And don’t get worried about necessarily having to use the right terms. You can get away with it when they are younger, but not if their ten!

You can say uterus if you want to – it is up to you! We just want to keep it simple for them!

How are babies made?

‘You need a special part from the daddy and a special part from the mummy to make a baby’.

Usually, this is enough information.

If you really want to, you can call this special part the cell or the egg and sperm. There is no great rush to add in the details when they are young. Use the same level of simplicity that you would use when describing where the milk on their cereal comes from.

If they want to know more, like how the egg and sperm get together, you can say

‘The sperm leaves the man through his penis and goes into the woman’s vagina. The sperm then finds the egg, they join together and grow into a baby’.

When we first start talking about how babies are made, we usually talk about penis in vagina sexual intercourse. But not all babies are made this way. So if your child was made in a different way, you can choose to add in how they were made. Or you can just wait until they ask how exactly they were made! For example, if your child was made through IVF, you can talk about how you needed help from a special doctor to help make the egg and sperm meet.

How does the baby get out?

‘Babies usually come out through the vagina (or between the mummy’s legs). Sometimes a doctor has to make a special cut in the tummy to get the baby out.’

Again, we keep it pretty simple. We don’t need to talk about labour and how the cervix dilates just yet. Wait until your child starts to ask for that level of information.

Tips to make it easy

  1. It isn’t about sex! They just want to know where they come from, before they were born!
  2. Answer their question like any other question. What if they asked you where the milk on their cereal came from? So answer their questions about where do babies come from, just like you would with any other question that they ask you!
  3. KISS: Keep it simple and short. Don’t worry about giving them too much information. If they don’t understand what you have said, they’ll promptly forget whatever it is, that you just said.
  4. Use a book. There are some fantastic books that will help you with explaining where babies come from. These books about where babies come from leave out the sex part. Whereas these books about how babies are made, talk about sexual intercourse.
  5. Don’t stress about saying too much! Luckily for us parents, kids have inbuilt safety switches ie they promptly forget anything that they don’t understand. So you don’t have to worry about sparking their curiosity about stuff that they just aren’t ready for! And if you are worried about getting it wrong or how much exactly to say, then do yourself a favour. Make life easier for yourself and use Sex Ed Quickies instead, which gives you quick, easy age-appropriate answers to their child’s sex questions. Then and there!

If you’re still unsure about how to get started, then my downlaodable book – Let’s Talk About Sex – will get you started. It tells you what to say and how to say it, along with lots of different ideas on how to get started.

Is your child ready to know where do babies come from?

If your child has asked the question, then they are ready for the answer.

If they haven’t asked the question but they are noticing babies and pregnant tummies, then they are ready to know.

And if you’re just not sure, then it won’t harm them to start off simply with some basic information.

And when they want to know how babies are made, you might find this article helpful.

You can also find out if your child is ready to hear about sex by completing my Parent Quiz  that will help you to work out whether your child is ready to know the answer to the question, ‘Where do babies come from?’ – Is your child ready to hear about sex?

About the Author Cath Hakanson

I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.

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