Motherhood

Talking to Kids About Sex

Talking to Kids About Sex

The other day, I was putting four-year-old Toby to bed, when he turned to me and asked…

“When I grow up, will I have no chin?”

At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but then I realized that most of the men he knows have beards, so he thought his chin would disappear. I explained that he could have a beard or no beard, and either way, he would still have a chin.

I thought my work there was done, and was about to head to the living room to watch TV with Alex, but his follow-up question was…

“How did Anton get in your belly?”

Big questions, Tobes!

Back when my sister and I were five and heard on the school bus about the shocking mechanics of baby-making, we hurried home to ask my mom, and I remember sitting in our bedroom as she told us matter-of-factly how it all worked, and, a few days later, we all read “Where Did I Come From?” The book was good-natured and funny (“it feels like a sneeze!”) but now feels a little dated.

So, I looked around for a new book for Toby, and here’s what I found…

Talking to Kids About Sex

The Baby Tree. For Toby, I read this beautiful, charming book about a little boy, whose parents reveal over breakfast that they’re expecting another baby. The boy wonders where the baby will come from, and proceeds to ask his babysitter, teacher, mail carrier and grandpa. They all give him different answers, and when he finally asks his parents, they tell him directly and truthfully (and somewhat abstractly:). It’s really sweet, and I love that the final page of the book addresses more in-depth questions—about adoption, same-sex parents, etc.

For older kids:

Ages 4-8: It’s Not the Stork!

Ages 7-10: It’s So Amazing!
Ages 10 and up: It’s Perfectly Normal

These three books by Rosi Harris and Michael Emberley are AMAZING. They go way more in-depth about bodies, sex, birth, adoption, different types of families—and for teenagers, puberty, contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, you name it. The books are very open and accepting of kids’ questions and feelings, while writing with a warm, direct tone.

Pamela Druckerman wrote a New York Times essay about the inspiring Dutch approach to teaching kids about sex:

Apparently, the Dutch are at the forefront of sex education, and they have little trouble broaching the topic. Parents in the Netherlands have lots of casual age-appropriate talks about sex with their kids, over many years, beginning when children are small. Mandatory sex education begins in elementary school, and includes lessons on respecting people who are transgender, bisexual or gay.

“If we start with sexuality education when children are teenagers, or even just before they start with any interest in sexuality, I think you are too late,” says Sanderijn van der Doef, a psychologist…“As soon as children have questions, they have the interest, and then they have the right to get a correct answer.”

Dr. Van der Doef says parents should give simple, clear responses. If the child has more questions, he’ll ask. Once he’s 3 or 4, “You can start to explain, in a very simple way, that Mommy has a little egg in her belly, Daddy has very small sperms in his body, and when the sperms meet the egg, a baby grows in the belly of the mother.” Three-year-olds rarely ask how the sperm and egg meet. If they do, “then you have a very smart child at that age, and that means that child needs to have an answer,” she adds.

What about you? Have your little dudes asked about where babies come from? What did you tell them? How did your parents tell you? I’d love to hear…

P.S. How to get your kids to talk at dinner, and conversations with a four-year-old.

(Illustrations by Sophie Blackall for The Baby Tree)

  1. So good! I’m going to go look for this book now. My parents never talked to me about sex so I always felt it was something bad or wrong. I have a 6 and 3 year old and we talk a lot about body parts but haven’t really broached the sex subject yet. I just try to keep my answers honest and straightforward. “You have a penis and your sister has a vagina.” That kind of thing.

  2. I love this sort of posts! You are so clever :) Lot’s of useful tips and such akward situations. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be prepared when this sort of questions will come up ;)

  3. Gina, I was referring to this statement.
    NETHERLANDS LAWS:
    1. Has no sodomy laws, the age of sexual consent is 16 for all, sex between an adult and a young person between the ages of 12 and 16 is permitted by law, as long as the young person consents. It may only be prosecuted by complaint from the young person or the young person’s parents. The question remains whether the public prosecutions department would proceed to prosecute if the young person themself had consented and their parents filed the complaint.

    Regards

    Jessica

  4. My mom “accidentally” left out a book of anatomy and human sexuality (a college textbook, mind you) when I was around 7. There were lots of pictures and diagrams. It was interesting to say the least, but I don’t really remember having many questions after that…

  5. Just to point out – the age of legal consent in the Netherlands is 16 – not 12. :)

  6. We have done the Dutch approach, just because I always naturally thought that it was something best approached as early as possible. I think talking about and understanding sex as a biological process and how babies are formed is very different to talking about sexual intimacy and relationships. We have totally explained every little detail of sex and how babies are made biologically from when our daughter was a young preschooler. Now she is older we have basic talks about sexual relationships and sexual intimacy, and we will go more down that track as she gets older. We always use proper names, no talk of seeds its sperm. I got the ‘its not the stork’ book out of the library for my daughter first when she was maybe 3 or a bit younger, and she moved on to the next one at about 4. We still get that one out from the library every so often and she still enjoys reading it.

  7. I love this and I love your blog. I am not a mother (yet) but I want to be someday. I have to thank you for your posts, as I feel they give me some direction as the mother I would someday like to be. I would love for you to blog about when it is age appropriate to become a mother. I am going through a break up with my long term boyfriend (I really thought he was the one!) I am approaching 30 and am worried whether I will ever meet the right man to have children with. I’d love to read your take on those topics and your personal story. How old were you when you had Toby? How old is too old, etc? I have been following your blog for years now, and really enjoy reading about how your break ups have led you to the place you are now! it’s so inspiring, Joanna!

  8. Ohmigosh that is the cutest! My son is only 8 weeks old, and I love the baby stage, but I kind of can’t wait till he starts talking and asking questions like that. Thanks for sharing – made me giggle!

  9. I had “Where Did I Come From?” too growing up (the book AND the movie) and I just bought “The Baby Tree” last month! It seemed to satisfy his curiosity even though it’s pretty vague. :)

  10. great post, thanks for sharing.

    We had a preliminary conversation with my 3.5 yr old and my explanation was ‘Dad puts a little cell into my body and then it grows into a baby’. The question on how exactly the process is hasn’t followed yet so I’m counting on the books you’ve mentioned to be prepared :)

  11. My 7 yr old nephew has always been somewhat of a genius. An obviously biased opinion of course, but not really.

    In regards to sex and where babies come from, he’s always known that boys and girls have different body parts and that he came from his mom’s “belly” via c-section. However last year at school he discovered that babies can also come out of a girls “virginia” (he’d nonchalantly stated to his mom he knew that he would never have a baby in his belly because he didn’t have a virginia). Then as my sister stood momentarily in shock, he began to sing “Take Me Home Country Roads” and that was that.

    My sister and brother-in-law believe in open conversations with my nephew with the understanding that the content will change as he grows. I love these different books for the different ages!

  12. I remember when my mum explained it to me – I was seven and telling her about this book I read at school which describes how the platypus came about (basically that a duck and otter had babies, very scientific). My mum used this to segway into a “do you know how babies are actually made” conversation

  13. while that question hasn’t come up yet my four year old has been very curious about private parts.. the difference of boys and girls and nursing..
    that sounds like a great book. will keep it in mind.

  14. It’s so interesting how everyone has a different experience of this. I remember asking my Dad, how babies were made when I was 8, he replied by eating lots of jelly babies!!

    I guess it depends on the individual child..I have a niece and nephew 6 and 5 and so far…they haven’t asked any questions in relation to how babies are made…although I will be interested in the answer my sister comes up with!!!

    Yes, the Dutch may be more open minded about sex but the legal age of consent over there is 12 which I feel it far to young to start having sex.

  15. My parents taught me with “Where did I come from?”, too!!

  16. Very interesting post! As an American living in the Netherlands, I will say the explanation is right on. I have school aged kids and am very open with them when they have questions about babies, sex, gay couples… pretty much anything they ask deserves a fair and thorough (age-appropriate of course) answer. My 5 year old daughter isnt as curious as my 8 year old daughter and my 10 year old son is pretty embarrassed by everything, but I try to soothe his embarrassment by making my answers logical, factual and as non-embarrassing as possible. I notice that the teenagers I come in contact with through my volleyball team (for the most part) are very well adjusted and comfortable with themselves. Much more so than I’ve observed in the states. It’s refreshing. Thanks for the interesting topic!

  17. I don’t remember how my parents talk to me about sexuality, i think they didn’t.
    I just answered my children with simple words.

    Christine

  18. There’s a great resource in http://www.sexplainer.com She gives lots of advice about how to build an open and honest relationship with your kids, so they will continue to come to you with all their questions. Also to help you overcome some of your nervousness at the whole prospect!

    • Also, Jo, the fabulous books you listed, which are fabulous, are by ROBIE Harris, not Rosi.

      Great post!

  19. I don’t remember ever being curious about how babies were made (I just thought married ladies had babies and that was that), but I remember asking my mom how babies got out of their moms’ bellies when I was about 4 or 5. I was FLOORED by the answer and immediately told my best friend who was also amazed haha.

    When I was 8, my older brother (he was then 11) learned about sex at school and told me about it. I didn’t believe him, so he showed me in his science book. I told him that was gross and I’d find a better way to make a baby XD

  20. such a a great post! this is an open topic in our family. on a family car drive, my then 3.5 yo daughter asked us how she got into my belly. i explained the egg and the sperm (and left out the intercourse part). she asked me how the eggs were in my body and how the sperm were in her dad’s body. i said i was born with all the eggs i need- just like she was born with all the eggs she needs. i’m not sure who was more stunned by this fact- my daughter or my husband, who apparently missed that day in sex ed.

    currently (now 4.5) she likes to talk about things that will happen when i’m dead. 1) she will marry daddy, 2) she will wear my wedding dress, 3) her and her little bro will take over the house and live in the master bedroom.

  21. When I was pregnant with our second, my oldest want to know how ‘he would get out.’ So I explained it using the correct terminology and for a while he really liked using the correct words for male and female anatomy. It’s waned a bit recently, but I’m sure it’ll come back up. Thanks for the book tips!

  22. very cute! we’ve recently been there, though the girls are (thankfully?) more interested in trying to wrap their heads around the baffling meta-concept of the world pre-existing them. “where were we when you and daddy got married?”. “no but where WERE WE??”.

  23. I love that there are informative about this sex for children- it’s so healthy for parents to be honest and positive with children about topics like this one!

    witormiss.blogspot.com

  24. Well … What was your answer to toby ?

  25. My mother was always very direct and straightforward with us, and a favorite story in our family is what happened after she gave us “the talk”. My sister (about 4 years old at the time), after hearing that we women are born with all of our eggs inside, said….”I know I have those eggs inside of me, cause sometimes I can hear them growl”. Haha.

  26. As a side note when my son was 3 his preschool teachers all seemed to have nose piercings and he asked if he had to get one too when he grew up. It was an awful thought to him

  27. I love this and thank you for these suggestions. My mother and father would like us to believe we were immaculately conceived and never explained anything about anything. Your body, sex, normal bodily functions were all embarrassing and not discussed. I wanted my children to be open and love everything abkut themselves and realize, it’s all pretty normal and were all the same, pretty much. Plus, prior to having children I worked with abused kids and always wanted my kids to know they could come to me about anything. As a single parent of a boy child I feel less secure that I know what I’m doing. But my son has always come to me and I think he feels pretty comfortable with his body and talking about sex. He’s only 7 but there’s been an incident at daycare with a boy who was a sexual abuse victim touching every one and exposing himself and I was the first to know about it and get a counselor in go work with the kids. He really REALLY wanted to see female body parts last year so I found an old library book we read and he was horrified and officially doesn’t want to see girls parts anymore. Hahaha I am going to check out the books you’ve recommended. He has a friend with older brothers who keep introducing their brother to things like tongue kissing and humping who then teaches my son. I use it as a teaching moment for what’s ok and what’s not and saying no etc but if is difficult to calmly respond and not freak out

  28. The chin question! Sooo cute! And I’m dying to know how did you handle the question sans book? Did you tell him “we’ll talk later” or something? I’m terrible at being caught off guard! Lol. Thanks for sharing, you’re great as always!

  29. The chin question! Sooo cute! And I’m dying to know how did you handle the question sans book? Did you tell him “we’ll talk later” or something? I’m terrible at being caught off guard! Lol. Thanks for sharing, you’re great as always!

  30. I was taught about the birds and the bees by “It’s Perfectly Normal”! A great, illustrated book that conveys in a cool-but-nonchalant-but-still-important way some of the intricacies of sex, sexuality, and sexual health. I remember being mortified when my mom gave it to me, but then as a few days passed, reading it with rapt attention.

  31. I love this posts Joanna! I love how open and honest you are about things people often want to keep quiet. :) Thanks for the resources, will definitely be checking them out for our little dude.

  32. My son is 15 now, so I’m well past this point. My general rule with him was to answer only the question asked, in an open way that was appropriate to his age. He is a huge question asker, so he definitely let me know when he wanted more information!

    I’m sure books can be a great help, but direct conversations make it clear that parents are ready and willing to engage in a dialogue with their kids about sex. That is probably the most important lesson of all, especially at a young age.

  33. I’m so glad you wrote about this. Yes. We’ve had….correction I have been asked questions and have come up with answers. It’s so spot on how you answer questions matter of factly and then they stop asking when they’ve been satisfied. Great to hear about this from you.

  34. This is actually a highly fascinating subject whether one has children or not. I can’t remember how my parents told me about sex, or if I learned at school from other kids…I honestly have no memory of it. Something to think about.

  35. I asked my dad multiple times, but he never told me. Neither did my mom, to be honest. I found out about sex on my own, through reading my mom’s various Ladies Home Journals and this book on female maladies that was all the rage in the mid-90s. By the time they tried to sit me down for the “big talk,” I knew what I needed to know, and didn’t want to hear it from them. I was 12 when my youngest sister was born, I didn’t need to be told how that happened. I’d seen HBO.

  36. What a sweet question by Toby!

    My parents were incredibly open, honest, frank, and scientific about sex and love, without being age-inappropriate or trivializing. I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of the sperm and egg (and especially by twins!) when I was little :)

  37. I can see this coming on the horizon (at least version 1 – my son is 3), and I’m glad you brought it up. I like the Dutch version, as that’s about where I’m at with it. But I really appreciate the insight about the fact that this is “a talk” to be had many times over the years, allowing kids to develop with all of it slowly and naturally. Thanks!

  38. Brilliant post about a topic that needs to be talked about more. My parents didn’t tell me anything as a child, I went from being born to literally the age of 11 thinking babies appeared in a womans stomach when two people loved each other, and kissing was as intimate as it got. Suddenly secondary school told me all about puberty, labour and sex over a period of three days and I actually cried when I was first told.

    That being said I think now a days, you can’t a child to ‘just find out’ anymore, not with access to the internet and other things. I’d rather tell them how they should find out, rather then see something very adult online, on a mobile or from a friend who has seen such things

    Jenna || Jennafifi.co.uk

  39. When I pregnant with baby 2, my very curious 4 yr old had LOTS Of questions and 1) I am HORRIBLE at lying and 2) We felt like he wanted real answers so we read him the stork book you mentioned. It was perfect – we focused on the answers to the questions he had and left the other stuff out. At his young age and with the curiosity he has we just answer the questions as honestly as we can – hoping to instill some sort of trust in us at this young age.

  40. thanks for this tip…i wasn’t sure where to begin with my little ones on this topic. Also, do you have any recommendations for books dealing with death and explaining to kids about this topic? I found that my 4 year old has asked a lot about dying and the such (some of this was picked up from school with zombie talk apparently…) anyway, since we don’t belong to any organized religion i’m a bit lost on where to begin. thanks!

  41. I don’t have any children yet, but I did take a couple of sex education classes in college (they were Bible courses at my private university)! We learned that the sexual part of ourselves is nothing to be ashamed of and not to make our children feel ashamed about their questions or curiosity. Growing up in the church, we were expected to be abstinent (which is a good thing), but it made us feel like sex in and of itself was wrong. I actually have some friends who have had a hard time wanting to have sex with their husbands because of the guilt associated with sex! It’s such a fine line between letting them know it’s normal and learning how to guard their hearts because no matter how many people say it isn’t – sex is a very emotional thing, too.

  42. I think that beyond the physical nature of sex and babies, it’s so so so important to teach children the emotional intimacy side of it, the “soul” part of sex. :)

  43. I just read The Baby Tree to my two and a half year old daughter before her nap! We’re having another baby in May and found our way to this book to help us talk to her about it. I think the Durch are right, being honest and talking to them will hopefully ward off the ackward conversations and feelings that can arise if you wait or won’t answer questions. It’s all part of life. Thanks for the other recommendations!

  44. This was so important to me. As the child of a much-older mother who was taught that those subjects weren’t meant to be discussed, basically everything was a surprise, and in high school, I was pretty sure everything would either get me pregnant or diseased. When I was pregnant with my firs child, I decided if they were old enough to ask the questions, they’re old enough for the answers. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean they need every detail right then, but rather an honest response with an honest intent.) It’s worked so far.

  45. Thank you so much for posting this Joanna. My 3.5yo daughter asked us last night how mummy’s and daddy’s make babies and where they get all the parts from. This book sounds perfect, I’m going to get it today as I’d promised her a book that would explain it to her… (thinking where did I come from would be good but way too graphic for a 3yo ). So thank you so much for saving me!!!!!!

  46. i never took sex ed, in elem, middle or high school. everything i learned about sex was from the Judy Blume book Forever and from my friends. i was raised by asian gparents and parents who had high expectations and vague explanations. they were very strict, i wasn’t allowed to do anything. it’s no wonder i went crazy my first year of college.

    admittedly, talking about sex makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. i blame my upbringing.

  47. My daughter asked lots of questions over the years, so this was kind on an on-going conversation. My favorite/most uncomfortable question: “Mom, you know how you said the sperm comes from the dad, and the egg is in the mom? How does the sperm get in there? Does he just shove it down her throat?”

  48. Being Dutch, I can confirm that sex education indeed starts quite young. My mum, being Belgian with a slightly less open upbringing, left my dad to give my sisters (4,6) and I (8) ‘the talk’. He also used a book to talk us through the ins and outs (no pun intended) of baby making. From what I recall, it was very much focused on the mechanics of it and less so on the emotional side of things, although it probably mentioned something along the lines of “When mummy and daddy love each other very much…”. I remember finding it all a little excruciating. Perhaps because I was already 8 and therefore aware of the concept of sex. Perhaps cause my dad was informing us as opposed to my mum…who knows! I’ve got 2 daughters aged 4 and 6 months and this post has reminded me to start prepping for this. A few weeks ago, I already broached the topic of death with my 4 year old, surely explaining how babies are made should not be any more tricky…? I live in London now and fear a bit of the British ‘modesty’ has somehow rubbed off on me! ;-)

  49. Being the youngest of three girls, I will always remember how my oldest sister would say in a sing-song-y way “It’s per-feeectly noooormal.” My mom bought me that book when I was a pre-teen. I already felt so embarrassed when I would reach for it and read it, but then to hear my sibling acknowledge it, it was the worst. Ah, older sisters. So mean!

  50. Let me just add how important it is to start including LGBT in your discussions really early on. As the parent of a gay adult, I know we could have done a much better job if we’d opened the door of understanding to all different kinds of sexuality, right from the beginning. He’s fine, happy, but I’m always going to feel some maternal regret at my heterocentric approach.

  51. I had to tell my daughter about where children come from because of a second grade school project. She was supposed to draw a picture of herself and label which traits came from her Mom and which came from her Dad. She just couldn’t understand how she could inherit any traits from her Dad since she grew in my tummy, what did her Dad have to do with it? She wouldn’t let it go and I felt like I needed to be honest.

  52. I distinctly remember thinking that people made babies by kissing naked, and then trying to get another baby doll by having Ken and Barbie do the deed. I don’t think “the talk” happened until I was about ten, and by then, I figured there had to be more to it.

    Love that Toby was worried about his chin. Too freakin cute.

    Katrina
    kateandfleet.blogspot.com

  53. When we had our third child, our older two were 11 and 7 1/2. It was interesting since the 11-year-old already knew about the “birds and the bees” stuff (she asked when she was 5), but the 7 1/2 had shown absolutely no interest in hearing or knowing. (He was a little shy.) After our littlest guy was born, though, the 7-1/2-year-old asked us how he’d been made. We hemmed and hawed about how to explain…and finally I said that it was like his LEGO sets… Daddy had some of the pieces and Mommy (me) had the rest and the set was built inside of me. I wanted to continue by explaining more, but he smiled really big with new-found understanding and moved on to another topic. ;) He’s had the “talk” with Daddy now (he’s nearly 14), but I’ll never forget that smile.

    My parents explained it differently to me and my sisters, and, of course, we also learned about it in school, but I love how each family can use their values and explain about it in their own way. Originally, I was really nervous about talking about it, but it’s a very special time, isn’t it? :)

  54. These are great book recommendations! We are trying to go with the Dutch way, but so far our oldest (7) has been most satisfied with the very scientific side of things. It’s so much easier to broach the topic earlier because each bit of information builds on the previous bit, so by the time your kid is a pre-teen, you’ve naturally progressed over the years to the more in-depth parts of sex. At least, that’s how I’m hoping it goes, ha ha!

  55. Oooooh yeah. After talking about it with my (then three-year-old niece), I thought we had covered everything, until she paused, wrinkled her eyebrows, and said, “I understand the part about the sperm and the egg. But how does the sperm get TO the egg?”

  56. Before my mom had a chance, I saw a life-changing episode of ‘Blossom,’ involving Phylicia Rashād and a cake.

  57. We love all the books you mentioned. We have a very logic oriented 5 year old who has had lots of questions about boys and girls from an early age. I find that “it”s not the stork” has helped me know how to simply and honestly answer her questions without feeling embarrassed myself.

  58. I have a 3 and a 2 year old and I’ve mentioned to the older one about how he was in my belly, but there’s been no questions on how he got there. I’ve also been pretty frank about how he’ll get hairy like daddy. As a side note, we were in a restaurant yesterday and my husband took him to the bathroom where he proclaimed to a stranger:”I have a small penis, Daddy has a big penis, and Mama doesn’t have a penis.” I’m not sure if I want to have a full blown conversation right now.

  59. Great post, I will have to check out the other books. We liked It’s Completely Normal for a rising sixth grader. We let him read a chapter on his own them discuss with us. I definitely think it brought down the nervousness level on his end.

  60. I’m going to check out these books for my son, who is Toby’s age. So far he hasn’t asked too much, but it will be good to have them on hand. My parents told us when I was in 4th grade and my sister was in 2nd because my dad had a vasectomy and I guess they just decided to roll it all into the what’s-wrong-with-dad explanation (he was lying on the couch in pain afterward and kept saying “They used a chainsaw!”)

  61. We used ‘it’s perfectly normal’ and found it to be a great resource for a rising sixth grader. We let him read each section on his own, then discussed them after. I found it to be a great approach for a kid who gets embarrassed really easily.

  62. I have a son, and I’ve always tried to be calm, truthful, and matter-of-fact about sex and the human body, which has left him pretty chill about it, too (or, y’know, doing an excellent impression of chillness). I really think if you respond to these questions in an unembarrassed and low-key way, the kid will regard them that way, too. And if you don’t, you’re going to end up with a kid who gets a LOT of information from inaccurate sources, including stuff that you wouldn’t automatically think of–like, you might not discuss menstruation with a male child, but you wouldn’t want them to assume that the whole “Women go crazy once a month!” thing they see on TV or wherever is true.

  63. I love this post! Have you seen The website Scarlet Teen? Definitely for older kids but a resource I wish I would’ve had when I was growing up.

  64. This is great! I learned from Where Did I Come From? too, though the VHS version. :)

  65. I love that they write books for things like this now! I am only 20, but I never had the guts to ask my parents because my friends had told me so many horrible stories! I finally asked my mum one night when I was in the bath and she was checking my hair for headline, haha! Idont remember how she replied but she confirmed the best story out of the horrors that I had been told!
    I also remember having sex ed at school when we was about 10, and one boy threw up! Funnily enough he was the first to loose his virginity!
    I don’t think it matters how you tell children as long as you don’t embarass or upset them; so these books seem perfect!

    May //
    http://www.dropsofbrandy.blotspot.co.uk

  66. Oh Léo asked how his baby brother would come out of my body. He said “Is he going to push himself out?” I just said “exactly!” Because really that was pretty close to how it happens (at least the use of the verb “push!”). One day he’ll ask more and I’ll answer more in depth, keeping your wonderful book recs in mind, but for now… I’m just happy to have dodged that bullet!

  67. I don’t remember this conversation, but my mom says when she told me I said, I’LL NEVER DO THAT! and I thought an aunt and uncle who adopted children adopted so they wouldn’t have to “do that” either. Needless to say, I have a 4-month old. Whoops.

  68. I got The Baby Tree for my (very inquisitive!) daughter Zoe as soon as we found out we were pregnant with a second. I’m due very soon, and they’ll be about 3 1/2 years apart, so this book was perfect for her age. Zoe LOVES the book, and her favorite part is the last page where the parents explain exactly what will happen — I know this because she will read the whole page along with me. And 3 is definitely not too young to “get it” from the science perspective — Zoe has told me that she knows that her baby sister came from an egg inside of me meeting a seed from Daddy, etc. :)

  69. I never asked my parents about sex, but when I was 10 and my sister was 7, they overheard us wondering about where babies came from, so a few days later they made us watch the “Where Did I Come From?” movie.

  70. OH MY GOSH you were 5 when you were exposed to what sex is?! I only say this because I need to back up my sex-ed plan like 25 years now. (My little one is 4!)

  71. The toddler I nanny for loves the book “What Makes A Baby” by Corey Silverberg. The book is awesome with interesting illustrations and encompasses a wide diversity of family types. They are honest and upfront about the topic, and use the actual words for body parts etc., while still being appropriate for young ages. He is only one and a half and it is hands-down his favorite book, which has made for some interesting plane rides!

  72. I love the ‘conversations with a x year old’ series you post on occasion. Such gems! It reminds me how how our brains worked at that age.

  73. I’m so happy you’re bringing this up! I think developing a healthy sexuality (this does not mean sexually active, but rather developing our own value systems regarding gender and ourselves). Another resource, which is aiming more towards young people (and adults!) is Al Vernacchio’s take. He has a fantastic TedTalk called, “Sex needs a new metaphor” along with his book, “For Goodness Sex”. Even though he’s gearing this curriculum towards high school students, I have learned so much about it and about myself (and I’m just shy of 30!)

  74. Thank you for this Joanna! It comes at exactly the right time for me. My 4 year old son Alec has just started asking these questions. It’s such a minefield! I want him to have correct factual information that is appropriate for his age. I want him to be safe and understand about privacy and that he decides about his body etc. I just really want to get it right from the start. Thanks!
    http://www.minipiccolini.com

  75. Also, for young people a little bit older, Al Vernacchio’s TedTalk “Sex needs a new metaphor” along with his book, “For Goodness Sex”. He has a realistic and innovative approach!

  76. “Will I have no chin?”…sweet Toby!!

  77. I love this! Thank you. Pinning for my future children board!