I am wondering when I should tackle the subject of "Reproduction" or "Birds & the Bees".

Is it better for her to learn this at school? She is 5 and attending the second year of a Pre-school, they have just completed the "Body" project, but this didn't include any information about reproduction. So I am presuming it will happen later.

In the mean time I am looking for a book that was recommended to me by Paul Stephenson in a helpful comment he made to me for my answer to Dinah's question about little white lies.

I would like advice on how we can approach the matter? Should we introduce it casually? Should we wait? Is 5 years old too early? We have until now been very relaxed as parents and use a total honesty policy that works well, I guess we are trying to approach the sex topic in the same matter.

asked 07 Nov '09, 11:47

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

edited 08 Nov '09, 08:28

We've explained the mechanics of baby production (using the How a Baby is Made book which my husband recommended in Dinah's question). But I don't think our kids understand that adults also do this for fun. I think that's more one for the early teens really. Our eldest did once ask if she could watch us! - but she was easily persuaded that she couldn't and never mentioned it again.

I don't think 5 years old is too young. We first read the book to our eldest when she was under two, because we were expecting our second. The book now just sits on their bookshelf with all their other books and they can choose to read it whenever they wish. They don't tend to very often, because it isn't that exciting really.

Since my favourite book is out of print, you could try Let's Talk About Where Babies Come from which looks promising from the look inside feature on Amazon.


answered 07 Nov '09, 15:00

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Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

edited 07 Nov '09, 17:42

Thank you to the Stephenson family for all their help regarding this topic :)

(10 Nov '09, 18:55) Emi

I think it's important to have the sex talk on your terms and not let schools do it for you. The schools can do the biology part very well but you need to handle the rest and I would argue that the rest is far more important.

I like language that's less technical and more qualitative. It sounds corny but lines like "when 2 grown-ups love each other" tell a lot about the things a child really needs to learn: this is for grown-ups, this is for people in love, etc. A 5 year old won't care about ovaries and spermatozoa but will care about love being a precursor to wanting to have a child and they'll be interested to know that their own strange private parts will have the ability to create life when they are older.


answered 07 Nov '09, 18:00

Dinah's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%


I think you don't even need to get into the fact that their privates are involved in reproduction. At 5, they just won't care about the mechanics and giving them such insight when they aren't mature enough to handle that information is a recipe for exploration.

(07 Nov '09, 20:44) bbrown

@bbrown: you're probably right. Most kids won't need that much detail. There are some though where they're trying to learn how the world works and if you give them too vague of an answer then you are just inviting another "but why?"

(08 Nov '09, 17:02) Dinah

I don't think you should wait for her to learn at school (or anywhere else for that matter), I believe it's our job as parents to educate them in as many topics as we can, this way you can build a trust foundation (which is why I won't tell my son there's a Santa or Tooth fairy, but that's a subject for another question)

Going back to the question, did she express curiosity already? I think you should know when it's time to tell her, and I'd go about it using as much truth as you can (without making it pornographic of course)

I strongly believe we should try not to lie (or white-lie) too much to our children (when I was little I hated finding out elsewhere about stuff, like Santa not existing for example :) )


answered 07 Nov '09, 15:02

JJJ's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

:) we will be continuing with our "honesty policy" no matter what. All the comments have been really helpful. Thank you.

(10 Nov '09, 18:54) Emi

By "learn this at school" it looks like you're talking about via the formal curriculum. However, I distinctly remember learning about "where babies come from" in first grade from a classmate. I can't offer suggestions about how much you should tell your child or how to introduce the subject. However, if you don't want her to learn from fellow classmates, I'd suggest introducing the subject sooner rather than later.


answered 07 Nov '09, 15:14

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
accept rate: 26%

This is what I will be aiming to do now with the help of all your answers... like putting a puzzle together. Many thanks.

(10 Nov '09, 18:52) Emi

I think five years old is too late. The basic facts about animal reproduction and how their own bodies work are something I believe they should learn from you at a very young age, casually and repeatedly, and with no shame. Remember that this is something every kid would have known (and seen) it on the farm or in the wild, until just a few decades ago.

My three-year old has known for some time that:

  • Males and females are anatomically different -- men/boys have a penis and females/girls have a vagina (in mammals). Also various other secondary sexual characteristics like size, hairiness, musculature, etc. And you can see differences (some the same, some different) between males and females of other animals, too.

  • It takes a contribution of cell each from a man and a woman, which combine and grow into a baby inside the mommy's belly for nine months, after which it comes out of the vagina. After the baby is born, it eats mostly milk from the mother's breasts/nipples (males have them, too, but they are non-functional).

  • This is the same process in all mammals (which we are), but it's different for other families. Actually, he knows it's not quite the same for ALL mammals, he knows about placental mammals versus marsupials. And he knows that birds and reptiles lay eggs, for example, and that only mammals have milk.

He knows all this just like he knows the about digestion, how some animals are carnivores and others herbivores, etc. It's just the very basics about his own body and the world around him. Maybe it'll help you have a natural conversation if you think about it that way, too.

Incidentally, he does NOT know the gory details of how the male and female cells get together (penis inside vagina, etc.), but that's mostly because he hasn't asked for more detail yet. I'm sure that at some point he'll realize that something interesting must be happening at that step, and he'll get an age-appropriate and matter-of-fact explanation of that, too (along with, when he's old enough for it to matter, the info on the specific changes bodies undergo at puberty, relational issues, precautions to take and/or warnings to wait, etc.).


answered 08 Nov '09, 01:58

lgritz's gravatar image

accept rate: 14%

edited 08 Nov '09, 02:52

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦

Great answer but I guess we left it a bit late, but I will be approaching the matter in the way that you have explained. Many thanks.

(10 Nov '09, 18:51) Emi

It's never too late to change which question you've marked as the accepted answer. :-) (Not that there's anything wrong with Meg's answer, which provided two good book references.)

(10 Nov '09, 19:10) lgritz
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Asked: 07 Nov '09, 11:47

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Last updated: 08 Nov '09, 08:28