Parents often dread being asked the question of where babies come from, and how you answer depends on the age and maturity of the child. Older children might be asking for some of the scientific details, while your preschooler might well be satisfied by a simple, one- or two-word answer. Take into account how much your child can understand, how much detail you want them to know and your personal values in determining how best to answer your child's queries. Simplicity is usually the best policy: Don't overwhelm your child with more information than she's requesting or is ready to handle.
Discuss with your partner how the two of you will handle the inevitable questions from your children about their new sibling. If you determine how much you believe is appropriate for your child to hear about babies' origins, you won't be caught off guard when the question arises. Because all but the youngest children probably are aware that the baby is growing in mom's tummy, your answer should address in some way how the baby gets out. Hospitals often offer sibling classes for soon-to-be older brothers and sisters, including a tour of the hospital to dispel some of the mystery involved.
Try to find out what your child already knows -- or thinks he knows -- by first asking him where he thinks babies come from. This will clue you in to what he might have heard from kids at school or on television and can help you craft your response. Keep your response truthful and concise, avoiding fanciful notions about babies coming from cabbage patches or being dropped off by storks. Gently disabuse him of any misinformation he might have absorbed about babies as you offer your response.
Tell preschoolers and younger elementary students that the baby grows in the mom's tummy until it's time for it to be born. At that time, the mom goes to the hospital, where the doctor helps her get the baby out. After the mom and baby rest for a few days and ensure the baby is healthy, they get to come home to the rest of the family. This type of simple answer is often sufficient for younger kids, who are often more interested in issues such as what a wonderful big sister or brother they'll be, what the baby gets to eat and when the baby will be big enough to play ball.
Give your child as much detail about the birth process as you feel she is ready to handle. If your younger child seems truly interested in how the baby gets out of mom's tummy, explain briefly about the baby coming through the birth canal, or, alternatively, about the doctor doing an operation to get the baby out, then stitching mom back up. Kids in middle school and beyond probably have already been exposed to basic reproductive topics in health or sex education classes, so your answer can build on what they've already been taught and your previous discussions at home.
- Remind your child that, while where babies come from is not a secret, it's the kind of topic that families talk about on their own. It's not her job to share her new-found information with her kindergarten class.
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