It can be daunting when it comes to talking to your children about sex and knowing which approach to use for how to explain how babies are made.
It is completely normal for kids to start querying how babies are made and asking about pregnancy, but it can also be worthwhile to take the lead and start talks around the subject at appropriate times. Of course, the nature of these conversations will depend on the age of your child and the questions that they ask but it is important that you are honest and open about the subject. Speaking about the 'birds and the bees' or explaining that getting pregnant is 'magic' might save your blushes but it can lead to confusion for your child later on.
In this article, we explore the information that is good to use when talking about how babies are made for kids and have created sections about how you can talk about how babies are made to different age groups.
When Should You Talk To Your Children About Sex?
It can be difficult, especially when you fear telling them too much but in reality, inroads into the topic can actually start at quite a young age. That's not to say that infants should be told inside out about the reproductive system and the process of pregnancy, but even from the age of two, you can start to talk about body parts and the differences between men and women matter of factly.
Know The Basics
Using the correct terminology for male and female reproductive organs including the vagina, uterus, fallopian tube, vulva, penis, and testicles is an important step in children having an awareness of their body and preventing them from having any negative thoughts associated to it.
Children will be naturally curious about body parts they see such as when in the changing rooms at a swimming pool so use these times to talk to your child about anatomy. If a young child asks about how a baby gets in a mommy's tummy, for instance, you can respond that a man has something called sperm in his body and a woman has eggs and when these meet they make a baby.
Finding The Right Time
There is no one approach that suits all when talking about how a baby is born or the parts men and women play in the process as all children mature at different rates and have different levels of interest in the subject.
That being said, finding opportunities to talk about it in everyday settings rather than sitting your child down for a long, in-depth conversation can make it less uncomfortable and ensure that they know talking about sperm, eggs, ovulation, the uterus, and more is nothing to be embarrassed about. If they directly ask you a question about it then answer them in the best way that you can but remember it is OK to tell them that you aren't sure about something too.
In addition, use suitable opportunities to engage with them about what being pregnant means and other important information about sex such as if you get invited to a baby shower or they happen to see your body in the bathroom.
How To Talk To Under 10s About Sex
When it comes to younger children and discussing how a baby comes to be, you can still talk about the sperm, egg, and other reproductive organs but the language you use and the depth of details you provide need to be chosen carefully.
For toddlers and kids up to five years old, you can explain that other people shouldn't be touching their genitals and that they should be asking other people if it is OK to touch them, even for a hug. In addition, it can be a good time to discuss the exploration of their own body (which is normal for younger children), but you can let them know that this is something that should be done in private.
There is a vast range of children's books on how babies are made that can help support your conversations. With kids now using the internet more than ever, they could access materials that give a falsified narrative of sexual relationships and the baby-making process, so providing them with suitable resources can help give a more realistic and informative view.
It is normal for puberty to begin from around eight years of age, so incorporating this into discussions about getting pregnant is beneficial, not only so that children can better understand the changes that will be occurring with their body but also so that they know how these changes relate to pregnancy and the ability to make a baby.
How To Talk To Tweens About Sex
When answering the question 'how are babies made' for 10-year-olds and over, you can afford to take a more scientific approach and start talking about partner relationships, love, and intimacy as well.
For tweens experiencing their first periods, it can be overwhelming and scary. Whilst talking about the sanitary items available for use during a period, it can also be a good opportunity to discuss why periods occur. Continue to use the proper terminology for body parts such as ovary, fallopian tubes, egg, uterus, and vagina. You can include information about how the ovaries produce eggs each month and how during ovulation an egg is released and moves through the fallopian tube. You can also explain that if an egg and sperm do not meet, the lining of the uterus is shed and this is what a period is.
How Pregnancy Occurs
Once children reach pre-teen age, talking about how babies are made in the womb and the development inside the body once a sperm and egg meet is entirely appropriate and can help create a link to discussions on physical relationships, partner respect, and love.
You can go into more scientific details about egg development in the ovaries, what happens during ovulation and how usually, one egg will be released each month. You can talk about how the fallopian tubes are connected to the uterus and that once an egg reaches the uterus, there is a short period of time where fertilization of the egg by a single sperm can occur. You can also discuss the male reproductive system and provide details on how sperm are produced in the testicles and travel down a tube in the penis in order to meet the egg.
Talking About Relationships
In addition, it could be beneficial to discuss relationships at this stage. Whilst your child may now know about the details of ovulation, the meeting of sperm and egg, and how this can lead to a baby, talking to them about the physical and emotional aspects of a relationship is important too.
Talk honestly about the mechanics of sex and what they may expect to physically feel during their first experience. Also, don't forget to include the emotional aspects of sex such as embarrassment, vulnerability, trust, self-consciousness, and love.
Finally, reinforce that physical intimacy including hand-holding and hugging should only occur if they feel happy and safe to do so and remind them that they can set boundaries about their own bodies.
The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.