adventureswiththepooh

An honest take on life and parenthood

“Mommy, where do babies come from?”

on January 16, 2014

“Mommy, where do babies come from?” the Pooh asked me when she was two years old.

I was totally unprepared for this question at the time. I mumbled something, and distracted her to avoid the question. Undaunted, she asked a few more times, but I had no idea how to respond. I didn’t want to give her false information, or information that would confuse her. So I gave her nothing.

She left me alone for a while.

About a year later, she became interested again, and I decided to give her more of an answer.

“Well, my love, you came from an egg.”

“An egg, Mommy?”

“Yes. A cute little egg. Now look at that squirrel!”

And that is about as far as I got.

Recently, she started pointing to her own body parts and mine, and asking what they were called. I realized that I couldn’t stall any more.

Although this is awkward and embarrassing territory, I felt it was important to cover for a few reasons.

First, I want to protect my daughter. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and a friend to many other survivors, I want to do everything in my power to prevent the same tragedy for her. When I thought about the consequences of not arming her with self-defense mechanisms, I decided to get over my embarrassment and figure out how to do it, pronto.

Next, I want her to feel good about her body. So many girls and women hate their bodies and wish they could match unrealistic beauty ideals. By providing accurate information now, I hope that she will learn to honor and respect the wonderful machine that is her body.

Finally, if we can talk about difficult subjects in a safe way now, I am laying the groundwork to keep the lines of communication open later. I want her to know that she can always come to me with questions, and that she can trust me to tell her the truth.

As I thought about next steps, I asked her pediatrician for guidance and resources, since she is a mom with two daughters under the age of five. To my astonishment, she had no recommendations, which speaks to how uncomfortable people feel about these topics.

I decided to do my own research, and found the following three books to be accessible and age appropriate. They are available in many libraries, where I reviewed them first. We now own these books and often read them as a trio at bedtime.

Amazing You! by Dr. Gail Saltz.

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This book provides friendly, accessible information for preschoolers on their body parts and their proper names, as well as an introduction to the concept of privacy. It tells kids where babies come from, without scaring or overwhelming them with information on intercourse. Written by a pediatrician, it is factual and kid-friendly, with bright pictures.

Now, I will not lie to you. I initially skipped the pages on a boy’s anatomy, since the Pooh has never seen a boy’s private parts. I felt weird and awkward reading these pages to her and showing her the pictures. However, being the smart little thing that she is, the Pooh caught me skipping over the pages, and insisted that we read them. I eventually got over my discomfort, and she was fine.

Does it all make sense to her? I’m not sure. She tells me that “boys have bones in their stomachs” and that “babies live in the vagina, where you poop.” She also asks, “Mommy, what was I like when I was a tiny egg?” I suspect that she visualizes herself living inside of a chicken egg.

I gently correct her about where babies live, but she has the general idea, which is good enough for now.  There is plenty of time for fine-tuning the information as she gets older.  The Pooh enjoys this book and she loves seeing the way the baby grows inside the mommy. Also, the book shows kids and people of different races, which is more reflective of the world we live in. Whether your child is white or not, they can see themselves and their families in this book. Thumbs up.

You Were Born On Your Very First Birthday by Linda Walvoord Girard

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This book provides a lovely answer to that age old question, “Mommy, where do babies come from?” Unlike Amazing You!, it is told like a story, beginning with conception and ending with birth. It is told from the baby’s perspective, and the language is poetic and soothing. It has plenty of softly colored pictures throughout, and your toddler will stop you and ask you questions along the way.

Expect lots of “awws!” and “look at the tiny baby, Mommy!” from your little one. Because it was written in the early 80’s, the illustrations look a bit dated, with expectant mothers wearing maternity muumuus and dads with sideburns.

Also, the book features a heterosexual white couple in a white world, so not all parents will find this book to be inclusive of their own family. This is a book that could use some updating for today’s world, particularly on the illustrations, but overall, we both enjoy its sensitive portrayal of the development and birth of a baby.

It ends with the picture of a newborn baby gazing back at you, and you can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy inside when you finish the book.

My Body is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard

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According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys will become a victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Those figures are likely low, given underreporting as well as the difficulty of gathering accurate information. Whether you have a daughter or a son, it is cause for worry.

Ever since the Pooh was born, I have been anxious about the best way to protect her from sexual predators. How to do it in a way that doesn’t scare or confuse her? How do I teach her basic techniques to deter potential abuse if I am not around?

My beginning efforts have been around teaching her to be confident and assertive, and comfortable with expressing her opinions (which comes to haunt me when I want her to be more obedient. Oh well, double-edged sword.) I have also started to tell her that if she doesn’t like the way someone touches her, to scream and yell and say “No!” and to tell me immediately, no matter who it is. However, I still worry that I waited too long to teach her these techniques.

Even with these initial forays into self-defense, I knew I needed to talk to her about personal boundaries, touching, privacy, and potentially dangerous situations. I just didn’t know how to do it.

My Body is Private hit the mark. Written by the same author as You Were Born on Your Very First Birthday, Linda Walvoord Girard helps parents and children navigate difficult territory with clarity and openness.

This book is written from the perspective of a seven year old girl named Julie. It covers topics of good versus bad touching, permission, strangers, and family members who overstep boundaries. The book presents situations that are realistic, and provides clear directives to children on what to do. It does not scare children or provide too much information. The back page also has a helpful detailed note for parents.

The Pooh gives me rapt attention while I read this book, and she doesn’t interrupt. It is written in a way that allows me to stop and reinforce certain passages to make sure she gets it.

I am so grateful that this book exists.

If I am being picky, the illustrations look dated, and the family is a white, heterosexual family with one girl and one boy. If your family doesn’t fit that archetype, you may feel put off.

However, if you can get past that, the clarity and presentation of the information is excellent. It provides me with the words and communication tools I so desperately wanted to talk to my daughter about protecting herself.

So there you have it. Three great books to talk to your little ones about their bodies, where babies come from, and how to protect themselves.

If you have other books to recommend, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 responses to ““Mommy, where do babies come from?”

  1. I love this post. So many parents need good kid-friendly resources!

    Like

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