I would like to know how I can tell my 5-year-old daughter where babies come from. She is asking me. I don't know how to say it or what to say. Thanks, hoping to hear from you soon.
From: Maria, Bronx, NY
You're right, once she asks, it's really important to be able to give her an answer. (BTW, whenever you aren't sure what to say about anything, a good answer is, "Hmmm, I have to think about that. I'll get back to you." And then you have to get back to her or risk ruining your credibility.)
Start by asking her, "What do you think?" Some kids really will say, "The stork?" almost as a way to challenge you: "I know that isn't true, but what is true?" So consider it a compliment that she's asking you. It means she trusts you to give her accurate information.
Asking what she knows is a way for you to know where to start. You don't want to give too much or too little information; that only frustrates a child. So it helps to have a starting point. You've probably heard the story of a mom who answers the "where-did-I-come-from" question with a complicated sperm/egg answer only to have the child cry, "No, Mom! Where was I born? Boston or Philadelphia?!"
Start by giving one small fact. Sometimes, that's all a child needs. If she asks another question, then give more information. For instance:
"Inside each mom and dad, there are special cells that can make a baby."
Then: "The mom's cells are called eggs. The dad cell is called sperm."
When my son and I had this conversation (he was 5, too, and I remember every bit of it), he asked, "But how do the egg and sperm get together?" That told me he was ready for the next fact: "The dad's sperm goes out his penis and into the mom's vagina. When the egg and sperm meet up, they begin to make a baby. The baby grows in a special place inside the mom called the uterus or womb."
This typically is the end of what a child of this age wants to know. But once the subject is on the table, I recommend you get a book. These are my two favorites: "How you were born," by Joanna Cole, photos by Margaret Miller, and "Where Did I Come From?" by Peter Mayle, illustrations by Arthur Robins. Cole's is a little more scientific in its approach, and includes in vitro photos. Mayle takes a more irreverent approach ("Making love is like skipping rope. You can't do it all day long.") with delightful illustrations, but both cover the same ground in remarkably simple language.
Invest in one of these, offer it to your daughter ("Remember you were asking about where babies come from? Here's a book that tells you all about it."). You'll get your money's worth.
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