Let’s talk about sex, baby. Or rather, let’s talk about how to talk about sex when your baby inevitably asks about it. Yes, that’s right. There comes a time, in every parent’s life, when their child will ask, “Where do babies come from?” Some parents use the stork (read: lie) in order to get out of talking about sex and reproduction, while others like to be frank about the whole thing. But is there a right way to navigate this conversation? How exactly do moms explain sex to their curious toddlers and preschoolers?
My kid, for better or worse, isn’t all that curious yet. He’s 3, so he’s currently preoccupied with building lego towers (and then knocking them over). I’ve tried to start laying the foundation for future sex talks, though. I’ve explained his anatomy, and my anatomy, to him. I’ve told him that some kids are boys, some are girls, some use other pronouns (I usually just say “they use other names” since he doesn’t get what a pronoun is just yet), and that everyone’s free to be who they are. I’ve also explained how some families have a mom and dad, others have two moms or two dads, and that there are lots of other ways for people to be parents. He knows he was once living in my belly before he was born, but I’m waiting for him to ask the big questions. You know, like how he ended up in my belly in the first place.
As a mother, I have learned that often times other parents are the best source of information. After all, they've either been there, done that, or are currently going through the same trials and tribulations I'm attempting to survive. So I asked other moms how they explained sex to their kids, and this is what they had to say:
“I got pregnant when my oldest was 2.5, and he needed answers. So many answers! He is an extremely literal kid who just wants the facts, please, and was not satisfied with the, ‘egg and sperm’ story. ‘How does the sperm get to the egg?!’ he asked. I ended up telling him that a man's penis fits into a woman's vagina like a stick in a hole. That satisfied him, and I remember sitting there afterward, laughing, wondering how on earth this once extremely prudish woman who could barely discuss sex without blushing had become this woman frankly describing intercourse with her toddler.”
“When my daughter was 4, and I was pregnant with my son, we had a conversation about where babies come from. Trying not to be too graphic about sex, but still get the details as correct as possible, I stumbled my way through the ‘how’ of the sperm getting to the egg.
She looked at me and said, ‘But... can I watch?’
And then I died.”
“When [my daughter] was 3, 'a little piece from the mommy and a little piece from the daddy get together and make the baby’ was sufficient. But one day she asked, ‘But how does the baby get in there?’ At which point I got a book from the library. Now we have What Makes A Baby, which is kind of vague but [my son] loves it. He keeps saying that, ‘When I’m a grown up, I’ll have a “berm”.’ (The way the pictures are in the book, it seems like people only have one sperm). He also drew a sperm on his arm in black marker.”
“Well mine was when my daughter was 6 (in first grade, I believe). We’d had the general, ‘the penis goes in the vagina’ how-babies-are-made talk, but we’d kept it pretty simple. Then she comes home and she asked, ‘Mom, is there such a thing as butt sex?’ To which I replied calmly, ‘Well sweetie, how did you hear about that?’ And she told me that the fifth graders on the bus were talking about it. I took a deep breath and said, ‘Yes there is. Some people think it feels good.’ She said, ‘Do we have to do it?’ And I said, ‘Nope!’ And she said, ‘Gross! Oh good!’ And went about her merry way. I don’t lie to my kids about that stuff. I try to be a source of correct information because I want her to come to me. She’s 14 now and, so far, it’s working.”
“I think girls are so much more curious about that. My son is oblivious. He’s cool with the story. I said daddy put a seed that swims in mommy and it grew in my belly. He seems to have bought it for now. And I don’t feel like I’m lying. I feel bad telling him a stork brought him. Kids gonna be all (messed) up. I come from a bird? He seems content to be playing with Hot Wheels, so I’ll take it for now and relax.
But just wait till they get old. It’s so uncomfortable but (sic) necessary conversation. I've already been through it with my step-kids. I just scare them with pictures of herpes and say, ‘Even with a condom.’ Hoping that buys me a few more years of abstinence.”
“My 4-year-old hasn’t asked. Just accepted there was a baby in my tummy. He did ask me if I ate it, though.”
“My daughter asked (when she was 5) how I got a baby in my belly and I just said when two people love each other they ‘kiss and stuff' and sometimes it makes a baby. She accepted it, so we stuck with that. She also thinks all babies are born thru a C-section because that’s how I had mine. I didn’t go out of my way to correct her. While I don’t believe in flat out lying (other than Santa), I also think it is good to hold on to their innocence as long as you can, especially in the world we live in today. I have talked to my oldest, who's 6, about shootings and drugs, though. Both tough conversations to have.”
“Kid is 5 and I am pregnant. We read It's Not The Stork. I want her to know the details, but I'm not sure I would have explained it well.”
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