Another common starting place for parent-child discussions of sex is the question of where babies come from. Especially if you're having a baby of your own, your preschooler will be curious about how, for example, the baby will get out of mama's belly. You can initiate these questions by pointing out women who are pregnant to your child.
In answering your preschooler's questions about where babies come from, remember to let your child lead the discussion and determine its direction. Provide the simplest possible answer first. If your child is satisfied with your answer, leave it at that. But if he asks more questions and shows he wants more information, then by all means go into more detail.
Try to avoid letting any embarrassment you may feel about the subject color the way you answer your child. All your preschooler wants is more knowledge. And there's really nothing unseemly about the knowledge he's asking for.
At three or four, your child is capable of understanding that a father provides the seeds or sperm and a mother provides the egg, and that when a seed and an egg join together, a baby starts to grow. This answer may be enough for your preschooler. But if he then asks where daddy and mommy keep their seeds and eggs, you can tell him about testicles and ovaries.
This anatomy lesson may prompt your child to ask how the sperm and egg get together. If he does, then there's no reason to avoid answering. Tell him that daddy has to put his penis in mommy's vagina so that sperm can (maybe) reach an egg. If you explain this as plainly and clearly as you can, your child will probably respond just as matter-of-factly: "Oh." Other common questions that preschoolers have about babies and pregnancy include:
You might want to scour the library or consult your children's librarian for age-appropriate books that can further your child's understanding of her body and the conception, development, and birth.
- How does the baby get out of the mama's belly? Answer: Most babies come out through the mother's vagina, which stretches to let the baby out. (Make it clear, if you haven't already, that the vagina is not the same as the urethra or the anus.) But if a baby has trouble getting out that way, a doctor can open up the belly and uterus, take the baby out, and then sew the mommy back up again.
- When can I have a baby? Answer: Girls and boys can make babies when their bodies start changing, usually at about twelve or thirteen years old. That's when boys start making sperm and girls' eggs are able to join with sperm. (Now comes the moral lesson.) But at this age, boys and girls still aren't grown up. So they really can't take care of a baby properly. That's why boys and girls should wait until they're grown up before having babies.
- Can two women or two men have a baby? Answer: They can raise a baby, but they can't make one. It takes a man and a woman to make a baby. But two women or two men can be parents if they adopt a baby or if one of them already has a baby when they decide to make a family together.
Don't be surprised if your child asks the same questions over and over again. This doesn't mean that you gave him a bad answer the first time. You don't need to change your story at all. Your child is just trying to satisfy his curiosity and further his understanding. He may need to hear the same thing more than once to absorb it.