Explaining the Birth Process to a Preschooler

How can we prepare our toddler for the upcoming birth of a new baby? What's the best way to explain the birthing process so that he can understand it? I'd like to be as honest as possible with him, but I also want to be careful not to give him more information than he needs. Any suggestions?

When discussing human sexuality with children, the best approach is to give them just enough information to provide satisfactory answers to their questions. Avoid going into so much detail that their little minds are overwhelmed. The challenge here is to be frank, straightforward, and genuinely helpful while keeping the discussion well within the parameters of age-appropriate language and concepts. Since you know your child best, you will understand how best to accomplish this in your particular family setting.

When talking about the birthing process with preschoolers, a major issue of concern is likely to be, “How is that baby going to get out of mommy’s tummy?” We know of one four-year-old boy who was extremely worried that the new baby was going to leave a “big hole” in his mother’s stomach. If you’re faced with a question of this kind, you can simply say that there is a part of mommy’s body between her legs that God made very special. He designed her body so that when the baby is ready to be born, that special part opens up real wide – wide enough for the baby to come out. Then, after the baby is born, that part of the body goes back to the way it was before. Most children at this age will have no trouble accepting this explanation at face value.

While we believe in keeping your language simple when discussing subjects like sex and birth with small children, we are also firm advocates of using medically accurate names for body parts, including the sexual organs. Many pediatricians agree with this approach. You will have to determine for yourself at what point you want to introduce these terms to your child. But we would strongly caution you against using slang words or “cute” names for private parts. That can cause kids unnecessary confusion and may even set them up for embarrassment later on in life.

If you have additional questions or concerns, feel free to contact Focus on the Family’s Counseling department.


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The Focus on on the Family Guide to Talking to Your Kids About Sex: Honest Answers for Every Age

Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care

John Rosemond: Parenting with Love and Leadership 

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Preparing Your Toddler For a New Baby

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