It’s the question every parent dreads. “Where do babies come from?” We all face it eventually, but when is actually the right time to hit them with all the facts?
There’s no strict rule when it comes to having the sex talk. Parents can broach the subject whenever they feel is best. But if the thought of it freaks you out and you’re clueless about what to do, then keep reading!
Some children ask about how babies are made early. Others are told by parents when they’re considered old enough. And many just hear about it from friends at school. The key thing is, you’ve GOT to be prepared with what you’re going to say.
When to start explaining
Most children start understanding the concept of sex around the ages of eight and nine. As a general rule, this is therefore a good time to have “the talk.” However, children will of course start asking questions a lot earlier than this.
Preschoolers in particular are very inquisitive. They usually want to know how babies get inside mummy’s tummies, or how they came to exist. In this instance the best approach is to keep it simple. Explain something along the lines of “Mummy has a tiny egg inside her tummy and daddy has something called sperm which turns the egg into a baby. The baby then comes out of Mummy’s vagina, or her tummy is cut open to get the baby out.”
Children who are three, four or five don’t need to know to know all the nitty gritty details about intercourse just yet. This type of explanation usually satisfies their young minds and gives them a nice introduction to the subject. You then have more time up your sleeve to get prepared for the heavy stuff.
Getting them prepared
While they’re still really little though, there are other things you can do to help them be prepared for the big sex talk. Firstly, be sure that they know the proper names for their genitals. And let them know that their private parts are exactly that, private. They are not to be shown or touched in public, and no one else is to touch them other than a doctor during an appointment. Or Mummy or Daddy, if there is a problem down there.
Read all about it
Books are another great way to help explain to young children where babies come from. And as they get older you can also introduce more complicated and mature concepts (that you might be scared stiff about broaching solo!). For example, what happens to your body when you go through puberty, masturbation and more detail around sexual intercourse.
Here are a few titles you might want to consider:
- There’s a house inside my mummy – By Giles Andreae
- It’s NOT the stork – By Robie H Harris
- Where did I come from? – By Peter Mayle
- What’s the big secret – By Laurene Krasney Brown
- What makes a baby – By Cory Silverberg
- It’s so amazing – By Robie H Harris
- What’s happening to me – By Alex Frith
- Period. A girl’s guide – By JoAnn Loulan & Bonnie Worthen
More sex ed tips
Feeling like you’re not quite ready yet to explain the miracle of life (and sex in general)? Here are some other handy tips to stop you getting tongue-tied:
- Don’t mention anything about ‘the birds and the bees’ – It will only confuse them. You’re going to be talking about penises and vaginas, not doing a nature study.
- Tackle one topic at a time – Don’t overwhelm them with the whole shebang in one go. Address their immediate questions, e.g. how babies get in tummies. And then go into detail about other subjects like intercourse another time.
- Don’t wait for them to get info from someone else – It’s much better if they hear it from you first, to avoid fear and confusion. So don’t leave it too late to have the talk.
- Ask THEM questions – If they’re near, or of puberty age, ask them first what they know about sex. You can then correct anything they’ve got wrong. And when you do discuss anything relating to sex and puberty, be sure to follow it up by checking if they have any questions about what you’ve told them.
- Talk about other tricky topics – Like porn. Kids these days are being exposed to porn for the first time earlier than ever (11 is the average age!). So it’s a good idea to mention what it is (people having sex, watched by other people). Make sure you tell them that they’re too young and not ready for it yet though.
- Make the love connection – Be sure to always reference love and connection, when discussing sex and intercourse between two people. Reference your own relationship (if you are in one) and be a good role model in terms of showing affection and love towards one another.
So there you have it.
In summary, start bringing up related topics when children are preschool age (especially if they ask questions). And then get into the REAL stuff when they’re nearing puberty (around eight or nine).
Keen for more tips on the topic? Well here’s exactly what NOT to say to a five-year-old girl about babies and periods!