best time to tell them about the birds and the bees...

(124 Posts)
Cordova Thu 19-May-11 21:35:37


what age is a good time to tell kids the facts of life? My DS is seven and is pestering me to tell him where babies come from - he already knows they grow in mummies tummies (he'd be frankly backward if he hadn't worked that part out), but he wants to know how they get in there...he seems so sensible and mature about things, but wonder if I'd be opening a whole can of worms by tellling him!

any advice?

ps my mum told me when I was five and I told the whole class...eeeek, I know there are some pretty stuffy parents of kids in his class who certainly wouldn't want their little darlings to know yet...

notnowbernard Thu 19-May-11 21:38:31

Am surpised he's got to 7 without knowing more, tbh!

Dd1 knows a lot but I've had 2 more DC since her so she's seen me pg, newborns etc and asked a lot of Qs

I think if they're old enough to ask, they're old enough to be told

TBH it's been more drip-feeding rather than a 'full-on chat' with mine

(and 7yr old dd knows a baby grows in the uterus, not the stomach) wink

feelingpeckish Thu 19-May-11 22:02:49

mine are four. they wanted to know how the mans seed got into the woman's tummy at three so i had to tell them. i have hestiated a bit about the actual mechanics of how the seed gets into the lady. they just know the seed comes from a man. in their case it was ivf anyway which means i've fudged it a bit without actually lying. i used mummy laid an egg as well which they thought was hilarious ( have no idea what htey made of the pictures of the naked man and lady slotted together) and then an eighties science book which doesn't actually have any drawings of male sexual organs which is a pretty remarkable achievement given that its about conception and full of pictures. they find that fascinating. they were sking about it again today. it seems a bit early to me as well.

feelingpeckish Thu 19-May-11 22:05:27

they know the seed goes into the lady's baby hole (sadly this is the term we came up with). the know babies come out of there - though again not in mummy's case. i've told them not to worry about babies popping in and out of there until they are older as baby holes don't really work properly for making babies until they are the age of x (their adolescent friend). they came up with dingle dangle for men's sexual organs.

feelingpeckish Thu 19-May-11 22:06:31

i should probably have been a bit more straightforward.

notnowbernard Thu 19-May-11 22:06:38


Sorry, but PMSL

feelingpeckish Thu 19-May-11 22:21:03

I know. it's a bit embarrasing.

Elibean Thu 19-May-11 22:22:14

Re your OP, when they ask is a good time smile

My sister and I used to talk about 'sweet little babyholes' and roar with laughter, as kids grin

Cordova Thu 19-May-11 22:27:28

ok, that's reassuring - he does know they grow in the womb not stomach - he worked that one out himself ( "because othewise they'd get disgested mum!") I will not feel bad about telling him next time he asks. Don't know why it's a difficult one because in general he has a full understanding of the world - can give you a very complete explanation of his political views...
Thanks for the replies smile

OppositeOfBlooming Thu 19-May-11 22:29:23

baby holes and dingle dangles?? Oh sweet Moses.

When they ask is the right time.

DD is just 4 and has known for at least a year. I am currently pregnant and she loves midwife visits, blathers on about umbilical cords and placentas and c-sections. I just answered her openly and honestly. No embarrassment, a vagina is a vagina, a penis is a penis.

feelingpeckish Thu 19-May-11 22:31:47

Honestly. I didn't come up with dingle dangles. every time they mention it on the bus I shrink a little lower in my seat..........

EdithWeston Thu 19-May-11 22:32:05

You tell them as soon as they ask (often precipitated by a new baby amongst family or friends), or you get in a pre-emptive strike if you realise it's going round the playground, or if neither happen you tell them at 8 or 9 anyhow.

Finding a book you are comfortable with is really handy. One to consider is Questions Children Ask by Miriam Stoppard, which I like because it gives answers banded by suggested age (and covers a good range of topics).

Cordova Thu 19-May-11 22:38:26

we do indeed have a baby on the way in the family (not me sad ), and it was DS2 who was asking about it, which made DS1 want to know the mechanics. We're fairly sensible on terminology although I don't think there's anything wrong with using willy.

seeker Thu 19-May-11 23:00:58

Tell them as soon as they ask - and if they donl;t ask by 7 tell them anyway. Ideally, they should be told bit by bit from when they are first talking, so they don't actually remember being told - it's just something they know.

posadas Thu 19-May-11 23:01:35

re "tell them as soon as they ask": I agree it's best with most subjects to answer questions as honestly as possible when a child asks. However, I'm just not sure how much to say about the "mechanics" in this case. My son (age 7) knows men produce sperm and women produce eggs. He knows women have a special hole through which blood comes out periodically and through which a baby is born (if not c-section, which he also knows about). he also knows a baby develops over many months from a tiny cell. But the key point about how the sperm meets the egg.... he hasn't specifically asked and so I haven't specifically answered. I'd be very interested to know how others have imparted this information!

seeker Thu 19-May-11 23:02:46

Dingle dangles and babyholes - ye gods and little fishes!

Cordova Thu 19-May-11 23:08:36

posadas - that's the bit I'm worried about, like your son he knows the rest. He said to me tonight, I think it involves kissing, and there must have to be some contact between the man and the woman...DH says just tell him it's when when two people love each other but that's a three year old's explanation...

seeker Thu 19-May-11 23:09:02


"When a man and a woman love each other and cuddle a lot the man's ......dingle dangle gets stiff and if he and the woman want to, he can put it into the woman"s.......babyhole and the sperm comes out and sometimes it meets the egg that's inside the woman. If that happens the sperm and the egg merge together and start to turn into a baby."

Obvoiusly I'm not suggesting you say dingle dangle and babyhole - I'm just seeing what it feels like to say that instead of penis and vagina.

ThursdayNext Thu 19-May-11 23:17:33

I'm struggling with this. DS is 5 and has been asking me how the egg and sperm meet. The rest of it has been perfectly comfortable to talk about and has come up naturally, correct terminology fine, but I just can't bring myself to explain this bit. I know he's going to be fascinated and go on about it forever more. My mother will be shocked, I'll hear him discussing it with his friends...

feelingpeckish Thu 19-May-11 23:45:13

In my defence. They came up with these words when they were THREE.

EdithWeston Thu 19-May-11 23:50:34

It's weird what words children come up with and which ones stick! Mind you, aged about 3, mine were singing about the "Dingle dangle scarecrow with the flippy floppy head", which isn't a good image right now!

MoreCrackThanHarlem Thu 19-May-11 23:58:52

Agree with the drip feeding, best to give bits of info as they ask, rather than serious sit down birds and bees talk.

Dd is 10 now so is pretty much clear on the reproduction side of things, started talking about this at about 5/6yo, and bought her Where Willy Went by Nicholas Allen.

I found the sex as recreation talk much harder
Was forced into it when she asked what a condom was as she had heard this delightful song in school (to tune of spice girls hmm)

'if you wannabe my lover
Sex is 50p
Condoms £1.50
Buy one get one free'

Got a bit flustered and to my shame told her I wasn't sure but I'd ask her dad and tell her laterblush

She couldn't grasp that if sex was for making babies why would you do it with a condom grin

Himalaya Fri 20-May-11 00:04:53

Get a book with pictures (but not mummy laid an egg, which is just confusing) because the next question will be 'will you show me?'!

Just keep answering drip feed fashion.

I remember learning the finer details myself when I was home sick from school and watching some 'schools tv' on the sofa with a mug of lemon and honey grin

OppositeOfBlooming Fri 20-May-11 08:51:59

"She couldn't grasp that if sex was for making babies why would you do it with a condom "

Honestly, you just have to be matter of fact. "Because it's enjoyable/feels nice/you don't always want to make a baby at the same time". The blush comes from us.

DD doesn't understand why you would eat onions or drink tea, she says they're disgusting. When told that sex is often just for pleasure, she shrugged and asked if she could watch Shrek.

PollFlanders Fri 20-May-11 10:00:28

We've just told our DD in a matter of fact way since she was 2. We always use the proper terms, ie penis, vagina, clitoris (because she asks what that bit is) - why use anything else? She is now nearly 4 and it makes life so much easier to be able to answer any question naturally and not have to raise the issue. We have the book "Where Babies Come From" by Harris & Emberley - too much for her in one go, but has good cartoony pics of sperm and eggs and she loves the pictures of babies in the womb. She is IVF and I have simply explained that in her case the sperm and egg were mixed in a special dish before the doctor injected the embryo into my womb -it's quite easy to explain really.

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