1. My son was just over two when his sister was born, so we kept it vague and explained that there was a baby in mommy’s tummy and when she was ready to be born, mommy would go to the hospital. When my SIL had a baby 18 months later, we used the same tactic. He’s older now (just turned 5) and the subject came up again recently, but this time he wanted to know HOW the baby comes out of mommy’s tummy.

    Honestly, I found myself hesitating and distracted him with something else, so I could give myself time to think about how to best answer him. I have no problem explaining birth or my child using the word vagina, after all that is what it is called. But at 5, he lacks a filter sometimes and I can just imagine him making some sort of announcement about mommy’s, babies and vaginas in an inappropriate venue. While I have no problem with the right words, plenty of people do. (Seriously. I work for at an animal hospital. You would be surpised how many grown men and women are unable to say the words penis and vagina, even in a medical setting.)

    For now, the conversation is tabled, but I might have to take a look at the books you mentioned.

  2. Great post. And timely. One of my girlfriends who has a gir or son’s age is due next week and he knows there is a baby in her belly. This led to me explaining to him that he was once in my belly, which was followed up by him spending a few minutes yesterday evening trying to climb back in my tummy. He couldn’t get past my belly button, so instead we looked at pictures from when I was pregnant and he was a new born. Thanks for sharing! If this issue every arises for us, I think I will go for the simple, but honest route!

  3. My son was 2 1/2 when his baby brother was born. We were planning a homebirth also and wanted him to be there. We talked about it, watched birth videos online, and practiced making loud sounds :) I was amazed at how easily he accepted it, as long as I treated it like the normal thing that it is.

    It turns out, his baby brother made his entrance in the middle of the night. So he didn’t get to witness it firsthand, but he woke up that morning to a new baby brother.

  4. When I was expecting my 2nd child I had a book on pregnancy and childbirth, which contained photographs of women in labour and during childbirth. It was not a children’s book, but my 3-year-old daughter wanted to look at the photos. I answered her questions about them.

    What surprised me was that she was not at all concerned about the mother. Instead, she said, “That looks like it squishes the baby, I think the baby doesn’t like that.” Once I reassured her that the baby was OK, she was fine. She wasn’t present for my birth in the end, but I think it helped her to understand what exactly happened and where her brother came from.

  5. I wish I would have heard the advice to warn about the yelling. My 3.5 yr old daughter knew how her sister was going to come out but she was totally freaked out when I started “vocalizing”. I was really hollering in a loud, uncontrollable way. I also threw up and that freaked her out.

    Needless to say she left with grandpa and missed the whole thing and I *really* wanted her there for that incredible life experience.

  6. This is a great post! It would have been helpful when my second daughter was born.

    I love that my older daughter, who is five and is the one with the questions, seems to be satisfied with answers like “babies come out of their mommies vaginas”. She’ll just be like “oh” and be done with it. I would give anything to know how her brain processes that! lol

  7. I have an embarrassingly funny story about this. When I was due with Trey I wanted Evan to be prepared. So we talked a lot about birth, looked at pictures and a couple videos on YouTube. I wanted him to know there would be blood and that was OK. Mommy would be loud, and that was OK.

    So, one day we’re at the store (Evan was 2 I was due at any minute) getting some groceries. This sweet old woman comes up and makes some comment about Evan, like sweet old women will do. Suddenly Evan goes into this long speil about where babies come from and what happens. Loudly. The entire store got a free sex-ed class on childbirth from my toddler.

  8. I love this post. I have some of the funniest video and memories of my barely two year old talking about how I was going to *unnghhh* push and the baby would come out my parts.

    We thought she would be there for the final hour or so but she wasn’t. She’s a pretty skeptical kid and, at four, we can’t convince her of anything. I’m glad we’ve been honest with her about bodies and biology.

    Someday I’ll write down all of the funny stuff she said before and after her sister’s birth.

  9. I have this to come no doubt, my boys are 3 and 4 and sometimes ask about babies and pregnancy, but in a very simlistic way. I have explained to them that mummy couldnt push them out, so had to have a c-section and showed them the scar and both are fine with that.

    At the moment my stock response to a question is “What do you think happens?” often the question is not what I think it is and there answer is sufficient. ie Can I have a baby mummy asked DS2, so I asked his what did he think and he responded, only when I love someone and get marrried and then I can be a daddy and my wife can have a baby. I think that is fine for a three year old. I what to answer any questions they have about sex and baby’s before they get all the wrong information from their peers!!

  10. Great timing. I just posted on my blog (http://mamabuglover.blogspot.com/2009/09/practicing.html) about my nearly 3yo practicing giving birth. We’ve taken the open and honest approach, including telling her that the baby was in my uterus rather than simply in my belly.

    We’ve watched some birth videos and I think that really helped me to understand what she might be concerned about during our birth. I was able to explain that Mamas make noise because it’s hard work, but that the Mamas are okay. I hadn’t even thought that she’d be concerned about how messy the baby is when it comes out, but that really shocked her with the first video. So we talked about that, too, and now wiping the baby while we talk to it is part of her regular “birthing” routine.

  11. It bugs my husband how honest I am about this topic in general with our 7 year old. I don’t give her what I consider excessive information, but he wants it really, really, really vague. Doesn’t mind her knowing the names of the parts, but any talk of function and he gets awkward.

    I’ll admit it’s tough sometimes. We have an 8 month old, so we just recently had to deal with the pregnancy and delivery questions. She knew a lot due to remembering when I had her younger brother.

    But now she’s asking for more of the how do you get pregnant kind of information and keeping it honest and age appropriate is a bit more challenging.

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post. As a child myself, I always kind of knew where babies came from, since we lived on the farm.

    We’d see animals “mating” and then see the consequences: the birth. It was all pretty clear to me :)

  13. Thanks for this post!

    My son was three when his sister was born. We planned on having him in the room when she was born, and so we prepared him quite well, without getting too graphic. He knew where the baby would come out of, and that Mommy might seem like she was in pain at the time, but that meant that her body was working toward having the baby. He was so totally fine with everything. It’s amazing how much kids can accept at face value. He was WONDERFUL in the delivery room, and I cherish the memories I have of that day. If I could go back and do everything all over again, I’d do it exactly the same way.

  14. Thanks for the great and detailed post!! I’m expecting #3, and my oldest is 2 1/2…she’ll have just turned 3 when baby arrives. While I don’t feel it necessary to fill my 10 month old in on the process ;), I really feel like my 2 1/2 year old should know. This was a huge help. I’m not sure what terms I’ll use (for fear of her repeating them in public) but I do want to explain the entire process. We’re not sure of our birth plans yet so there is always the chance she may be around. Thanks for the wisdom!

  15. My oldest son was 21-months-old when his little brother was born. We always involved him in the pregnancy and he would watch the labor and delivery shows with me (the ones with home births and at birth centers like we would be at). When the laboring/delivering women would get loud I would repeatedly tell him “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.” My mom and sisters-in-law knew to use that exact phrase when I was in labor and delivering. He never even missed a beat.

  16. My oldest son was three when his brother was born at home in a tub. I talked about it candidly from day one and showed him lots of pictures from my favorite birth books, we watched birth videos and we read the “Welcome With Love” book over and over. I showed him how I would push and told him it would be intense because Mama had to be so strong.

    He did great. He did get overwhelmed with my vocalization during transition, but my mom was his support person and the midwives did a great job of making it all so normal.

    I still continue to talk about it normally in my family. If I’m going to the bathroom and my 2 year old comes in and points at my vagina I say, “Yes, that’s my vagina.” Since my oldest enjoys hearing about his birth story and recounting his brothers it comes up and we talk about how I pushed the babies out of my vagina.

    I’ve found it to be very empowering to be honest and normal about my birth experiences.

  17. What??? You mean they don’t come out of the cabbage patch??? MY mommy lied to me! Wahhhhhhhhh

  18. Great post, Amy! I plan to be very honest and forthcoming with Asher when the time comes. Birth is something very beautiful and our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of, so why spare details??

  19. This is a timely post for me. Monkey will be three in two weeks and his baby sibling is due to arrive around New Year’s. He asked me the other day how the baby will come out. I told him that the baby comes out a special hole between mommy’s legs. I also told him that when he was born he wanted to come out bum-first instead of head-first so he couldn’t fit through that hole. So the doctors had to ‘make a new hole’ for him. He seemed to accept that answer.

    We are in the process of deciding if we will have a home birth. Obviously if we do we will need to go into more details about the actual process. Thanks for the links to what I’m sure will be helpful resources.

  20. It’s interesting to find how challenging the content side is for someAll I can say is WOW!! You have stunned me with the amount a valuable reading here

  21. That doll with the placenta is an eye opener! Facebooked that one to some friends. :) Great article, as always. If you’d ever be interested in doing a guest post on my blog with some short reviews of some of the children’s books you mentioned, just let me know.
    Lynn, Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile

  22. Thanks so much for this. I’m 31 weeks pregnant with my 3rd, and planning a homebirth (had one with my 2nd as well).

    When we told my oldest (4, almost 5) that Mummy had a baby in her tummy, the first thing he asked was not how it got in, but how it would get out. Yes, I told him. He didn’t believe me!

    I hope this book will help my 2 boys and give them an idea what to expect.


  23. Fascinating! I don’t have kids [yet?] but am an Auntie. Good stuff to know!
    I sub’d to your RSS feed after the last couple posts that I commented on. :D

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