Even the most progressive parents fear the moment their children will ask where babies come from. This question frequently comes out of the blue, when parents are least expecting it.
The trigger for the question is usually when a child finds out you or someone in the family “is going to have a baby” or when one of their friends tells them they are about to have a sibling.
It is natural for your child to be curious about where babies come from. Many parents have prepared the answer to this question well in advance. However, our children often hit us with the question unexpectedly, catching us completely off-guard. No parent wants to resort to telling their children babies are brought by storks or found in the cabbage patch. Inevitably, this means you will have to offer the correct explanation sooner or later.
Honesty is always the best policy, so here are 5 simple tips to help make it easier to explain where babies come from correctly the first time around:
Take your time
Take some time to compose yourself before answering. Don’t show that the question is a big deal for you. Settle yourself and your child somewhere comfortable, like you would for any other conversation.
Respond to each of your child’s questions, but don’t rush to answer if you are unsure about how much to reveal because of your child’s age. Think about your answer, and if you are still unsure, be honest and tell your child you need some time to think about the answer.
An age-appropriate children’s book can help you describe fetal development and childbirth accurately. These are wonderful resources that allow you to share a moment with your child. This will also help your child associate the mother in the book with you or the person that’s expecting.
Don’t signal your discomfort
If you don’t feel comfortable with the conversation, don’t let it show. Don’t forget children don’t have the same level of discomfort as adults have when it comes to discussing sensitive issues like sex or body parts. They only feel shame or embarrassment if these have previously been communicated to them, directly or indirectly.
Never avoid having the conversation if you feel uncomfortable, otherwise, you are sending the wrong signal to your child that it is wrong. You want to avoid letting it feel embarrassment or shame. If you show discomfort or give dishonest responses, you may let your child believe that the question they asked was bad.
As a parent, you intuitively know how to respond to this question according to how much your child can handle at each stage of their development. Avoid telling your child fairy tales; give it an honest response helping it to develop a healthy relationship with its body, about sex, and pregnancy.
Determine your child’s understanding
Before starting the discussion, get an idea of how much your child already knows and thinks about pregnancy. Their response to your questions allows you to determine their level of understanding. Ask your child what it thinks pregnancy entails so you can understand which areas you must explain and how to offer easy explanations that your child can understand.
Answer with words your child uses and recognizes. Explain difficult terms as simply as possible to avoid misunderstandings. The simpler the response the less likely it is for your child to have additional questions.
Give simple, direct answers
Listen to your child’s questions carefully to understand exactly what your child is asking. This helps to keep the explanation simple and direct. There’s no need to explain far more than your child is asking, nor do you want to give a response that is out of context.
The answer to a question like “Where do babies come from?” may differ for children of different ages. While a three-year-old may want to know how the baby comes out of the stomach, a six-year-old may want to know how the baby was made. Therefore, listen closely to the context in the question, so you can give an age-appropriate answer.
Choose words that don’t confuse or disturb your child
The use of the wrong words or phrases can disturb or upset your child. Don’t use words like “cut out” to describe a cesarean section. Explain how the egg grows in the “uterus” or “womb” rather than using the words “belly” or “tummy”. This helps minimize any confusion.
Finally, children must understand the body from an early age. This natural progress allows conversations to occur organically (at any place or time), allowing children to feel more comfortable talking about their bodies.