Where Do Babies Come From, Mommy?

Answer the question of where babies come from in a factual, age-appropriate way. Conception and birth shouldn’t be a one-time talk but a conversation that begins basic and grows with your kids.

I love this question! How do you answer the question, “Where do babies come from?” when your child asks? I must confess that I am a “birth junkie,” as a childbirth educator and doula*, my career has evolved into all-things-baby.

As a parent, I believe in honest and accurate answers when our kids come to us with questions, any questions. The more consistently you do that for your children, starting when they are very little, the more you are building a foundation of trust and openness. Most parents encourage their children to come to them with problems, questions and fears as they grow up and most parents strive and hope for this relationship and culture of openness to continue into the teen years and beyond. Being truthful, answering questions you may be uncomfortable with and finding out answers to things you’re unsure of will all go a long way in nurturing parent-teen communication.

Where do babies come from? To answer this tough question from inquisitive kids, I would first consider the age of the child asking. If your child is pre-school age, a truthful but short answer will be best. For example, “Mommy has a teeny tiny egg in her body and Daddy has teeny tiny sperm in his body and when they meet, they make a baby in Mommy’s body.” Generally, a one-sentence answer is all they need to satisfy their curiosity at that moment. I love the book, “Where do Babies Come From?” by DK Publishing and Angela Royston. It addresses this question beginning by looking at other animals then asks, “Where do you come from?”  This book can be used with young children and can grow with them to be used by parents as a spring board to answer the where-babies-come-from-question with school-aged children. (One note, this book does talk about needing a mother and a father to make a baby, so if that is not your family’s situation, you may want to adapt or use another teaching tool.)

In answering “where do babies come from?” for older children, isn’t the part of the question that makes us quake just the one little part about how does that sperm get to that egg? You can be factual and truthful while also expressing your own family values. It’s okay to tell them you want some time to think about the best way to answer the question, but be sure you get back to them within a day to give them their answers. Following through gives your kids confidence that you are a trustworthy source of information.

Start with anatomy, find an anatomy chart for a woman and one for a man that shows the reproductive organs internally and externally (http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Human_Physiology/The_female_reproductive_system). You can ease into the discussion with proper names of body parts and what their main job is (sperm is produced in the testicles, eggs are stored in a woman’s ovaries, the uterus is where the baby will grow...) look up anything you have a question about before starting your discussion. This is even something you can initiate a conversation about without waiting for your upper elementary kids to come to you. 

Tailor the discussion to the child’s age. This isn’t something that will be answered once and never again, as with so much in parenting, addressing the topic in small pieces multiple times over the years is a great way to educate your children as opposed to having one “big talk.”  As kids mature, repeat things you’ve talked about before and add more information, share your family’s viewpoints and ask if they have more questions for you.

As your children become teens, discussions about babies and pregnancy will be geared toward seeking healthy relationships, sexual health and decision making, contraception and the continuing insertion of your family values. Our teens need our guidance, our positive feedback and our ability to field their questions in a safe environment. They need to know what their parents think, feel and believe about teen sex and they need to know (with regular, kind reminders) that their behaviors and choices matter.

I would love to hear how you’ve handled the question, “Where do babies come from?”  Have these discussions made you feel closer to your children?

* I am certified as a childbirth and postnatal educator and a birth and postpartum doula. The word doula comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves” and now has come to mean a woman supporting another woman and the dad, partner or family members through labor, birth and the postpartum time.  I work with families who are expecting their first baby or their fifth baby and very often work with families expecting multiples. For parents who already have children, we talk about sibling adjustment and big brothers’ or sisters’ questions about Mommy’s big belly and the baby to come.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Suzanne Arena July 03, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Terrific post. Something we have had come up several times for my almost 9 yr old daughter and 10.5 yr old son. When it seriously first came maybe 1.5 yrs ago I purchased the American Girl series books (puberty, bullying etc.) and took some age appropriate one's from the Library which were very helpful. I am a realist, so I teach the same way and 3 weeks ago we discussed it more in detail of the uterus, fetus growing, coming out (not out of belly button as my son would like to believe) then about why girls have nipples and how babies are fed. My son actually asked, So some men have breasts mommy, why can't they breast feed - LOL! I know the answer and explained, but they really are funny. The only thing I have given them is the "how it's created part" other than the sperm goes into the woman and ...GEE, they haven't asked how it get's in her yet, and I'm not ready to pony up that info.
Leah DeCesare July 04, 2012 at 03:23 AM
How great that you've been so open in answering what they each need to know! I love that you've also gone into feeding baby, we never know where these chats will take us! Thanks for your comment!
Eileen Famiglietti July 04, 2012 at 02:10 PM
excellent blog Leah! My oldest is 11, and he had the puberty night at school a few months ago. so, what transpired there was a better answer than I ever gave him. ;) i remember when we drove home from that night- and i told him not to be embarrassed if he had questions, it's all part of growing up. and he was actually cool with talking to me..it was a bit weird at first for me, but it was a good talk - it was the talk my mom never had with me.
Leah DeCesare July 04, 2012 at 04:29 PM
What a gift to be able to have a talk like that with your kids, one that you didn't have with your parents, and now he knows he can come to you for truthful answers without being embarrassed! Way to go! So important for US as parents to overcome our trepidation and shyness about the subject so we can best inform and empower our kids.
JB July 04, 2012 at 08:46 PM
When my 5 year old son asked me this question, I did what any quick-thinking father in my position would do: I told him to go ask his mother! Lol.... Jokes aside, I thought this was a very nice article. Refereshing to see something informative and positive on this site. Happy 4th, everyone.... Enjoy the rest of the day!
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) July 05, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Ouch, JB! I have to agree that Leah's post is terrific, but I'm hoping we can offer you some more content that informs and is positive (yet we'll continue to cover the news as it happens ... i.e. the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Mom of 3 July 05, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Leah, I love this article. When I was pregnant with my youngest, my middle child (my then 5 year old son), asked me if the "saw was going to hurt". When I asked "What saw?" he said "The one they will use to cut the baby out of you" I then launched into this very long, complicated explanation, after I was finished he said "So there is no saw?". That's all he was interested in. He didn't care where the baby came from or how it got in there! Just wondered if they would use any common household tools to get her out!
Leah DeCesare July 05, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Thanks for your comment, JB, hope you picked up a couple of thoughts to help you answer the questions next time he asks (he will!) I'm sure you know that a Dad is the most important influence in his son's life (as Mothers are for daughters - the same sex parent is the strongest role model) so he'll be approaching you again, now you can be prepared! :-)
Leah DeCesare July 05, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Yikes! Thank goodness no saws! He was worried about his mama and you emphasize an important point - that we only need to provide what they need/want to know at that point in time.
Carolyn Mark July 06, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Great post, Leah. Just wanted to offer up a series of books that we used with our kids. In order by age-appropriateness: "It's Not The Stork" (4+), "It's So Amazing" (7+) , and "It's Perfectly Normal" (10+). What I love about these books is that they honor all families - regardless of how their babies entered their families: traditionally, through invitro, or adoption. I found that reading through these books together and then leaving them in their rooms was a good way to introduce many subjects but also give them the ability to go back and look again. It has been a great way to start a dialogue I hope will continue well into their teen years.
Leah DeCesare July 06, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Carolyn - Valuable recommendations, thank you! Isn't it so true that all through different ages and stages of parenthood we need to revisit things in new ways and reinvent ourselves in some ways to adapt to our kids individual needs.
5th Warder July 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM
When I was about 5, my mom and I had driven to a local farm (this was in NH in the late '60's) to get milk. As we turned the corner to park the car, there in front of us for all the world to see was a group of men gathered around a bull and a cow in a small fenced in stall. The men got everything in position and the bull began to do what he was there to do. I was horrified, fascinated, and completely at a loss for what the hell was going on! My mom saw duty as a nurse during WWII in he S. Pacific and God rest her soul, she never flinched. When I started with the inevitable questions, she took a long drag on her cigarette and explained the whole thing to me, beginning to end. The cow and bull were long gone by the time she finished. She was a good woman.
Leah DeCesare July 11, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The cow and the bull instead of the birds and the bees! What a great story! Thanks for sharing it!
Sandy Maria goolder September 28, 2012 at 02:18 AM
I raised my two younger sisters and one day I caught them playing make the baby come out(there doll out of alysha's shirt) and the youngest one said you need a daddy to make the baby come out he has to put his bopper (penis)in there and pull out the baby so they used a banana! Help me :0
Leah DeCesare September 29, 2012 at 12:46 AM
What a funny story, Sandy, amazing what goes on in their young minds!
JB September 29, 2012 at 04:53 AM
How funny! I saw there was a comment on this article and clicked to add my own comment when I saw I already did months ago! Go figure. This is a great piece about an issue that people take for granted until they're in the spot, thanks Leah. can you say awkward? Also VERY late apology/ clarification to Elizabeth about informative and positive" things on the site. Cant remember what it was for the life of me, but I think at the time the post were pretty confrontational and heated. The site is great. Thanks to you the Patch has its fingers on the pulse!!!! Now if you could only tell me if Ian's soccer game is cancelled tomorrow : (
Leah DeCesare September 29, 2012 at 03:58 PM
JB - Guess something spoke to you about this subject that you wanted to comment twice! I remember your comment - Thanks! Sorry I can't help you with the soccer game!
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) September 29, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Thanks JB. I appreciate the comments. As for the soccer game, not sure I can help you either. But I can ask any soccer coaches out there to post that info if they want to!


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