Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good Question - How do babies get inside their mommies?

Michelle asked me to recommend a book for her 5 year old daughter who asked, "Mommy, how do babies get inside their mommies?" It's a great question, and there are three books that come to mind. They differ in their focus, but are all good introductions to questions that young children have about our bodies. The most important thing that I have found in talking with young children is to really listen to their questions, and not to give them more information than they are asking for.
It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends
by Robie H. Harris
MA: Candlewick Press, 2006.
ages 4 - 8
It's Not the Stork! is aimed at children ages 4 - 8, and has lots of cartoons and short dialogues as part of the description. I like the way it starts with real basic questions, like how are girls and boys the same and different. It has a conversational tone, but clear information with lots of illustrations - drawings that look realistic. It shows special parts on the outside of boys and girls bodies, and on the inside of their bodies. It does talk about sex, but in a way I'm comfortable with: "When grownups want to make a baby, most often a woman and a man have a special kind of loving called 'making love' - having sex' or 'sex.' this kind of loving happens when the woman and the man get so close to each other that the man's penis goes inside the woman's vagina." My guess is that this has lots more than most five year olds want, but it would make an easy introduction.
My Mom's Having a Baby!
by Dori Hillestad Butler
IL: Albert Whitman & Co., 2005.
ages 5 - 8

My Mom's Having a Baby is also conversational in tone, telling the story of a little girl who's mom is having a baby. It goes month by month about the baby's development. It has a different focus from It's Not the Stork - this follows a baby, and so introduces sex that way. The book by Harris really starts with what are our bodies like, and so focuses on the child more. It would be a good book for children who are interested in where babies come from, or for older siblings whose families are expecting a new baby.
When You Were Inside Mommy
by Joanna Cole
NY: HarperCollins Publishers, c2001.
ages 3 - 5
When You Were Inside Mommy is a good introduction to the topic for younger children, especially the preschool set. Cole is a wonderful author who knows how to introduce complex topics to young children. She sensitively introduces the topic of how babies develop, without getting too graphic. It would be a great place to begin the discussions and see how your child responds.

These books are available at your local library or bookstore.

Good Question will be a new regular column. If you have a question or type of book you're looking for, please let me know. Either post a comment (click the comment link below the post), or email me at mscheuer(at)rdschool(dot)org. Thanks!

Nonfiction books are great ways to explore and answer questions with kids. For some great suggestions, check out Nonfiction Monday. Today it's being hosted by the ACPL Mock Sibert blog.


  1. Good idea to suggest several books, because kids' needs are so different, even at the same age. Luckily, "too much information" (at least in book format) goes straight over their heads.

  2. Nice collection of books on the same subject. I like the way you've mentioned each one's focus and even quoted a bit from one. Valuable info!

  3. My younger daughter (4) has been asking a different sort of question--whenever I talk about myself when I was younger, she asks, "I was still in your tummy, right?" I think the heart of the problem is that she can't fathom a time when she didn't exist, but I've been trying to answer her accurately. I think she's getting it, but some carefully structured narrative and visual aids are probably necessary at this point. I'm going to try It's Not the Stork! and see how that goes.

  4. Okay, these authors are brave, especially the It's Not the Stork! folks! I'm glad to hear someone's tackling these questions with sensitivity. (I remember my mom drawing diagrams at the kitchen counter; afterwards, I ran off and told my younger sister the news so we could say "Eww!" together!)

  5. Kate, you're right - these authors are brave. But I liked being able to offer these books to my kids for them to look at (with me, and then on their own). It made it easier to talk about some of the facts and feelings.

    Amy - I love how your daughter is trying to put time together in her mind. It's such a hard thing for little ones to wrap their heads around, isn't it? Reminds me of my mom saying that I was a twinkle in her eye.

    have fun - I'm glad you liked these recommendations!