Around the age of three, at the beginning of the Oedipal stage, your child realizes that he belongs to one of the two sexes. This discovery leads him to ask lots of questions ... including the one about his origins. He loves to hear the story about his birth. How did he enter the world? Where was he "before"? And if the arrival of a new baby in the family occurs simultaneously, chances of the subject being brought up are multiplied.
It’s therefore the time to give him clear and simple information to help him understand the miracle of birth.
Talk to him when he starts asking questions. It’s needless to provoke the discussion; the questions will come gradually. Don’t get ahead of your child; ask him a few questions to determine what his level of understanding is about the whole pregnancy thing and what he really wants to know.
How to talk to him?
Talk to him in simple words. With younger kids, use a “pictorial » vocabulary to help them understand, but with school age children, opt for a “biological” vocabulary, naming things by what they are and not using made-up words (saying "penis" and not “wee-wee”, for example).
Should I tell him about storks and cabbage patches?
Return the question to him just to see what he says: “Do you think it’s possible?” Don’t get lost in outdated explanations filled with innuendos. Your child could think that it’s “forbidden” to talk about it. It’s far better that he feels comfortable to broach the subject with you. Remember that it’s the beginning of the trust you’ll develop with him over the years!
"To provide your child with a common thread, it’s important to cover all the stages of the process as time goes by and his curiosity evolves: intimacy between a man and a woman, fertilization, pregnancy, childbirth. Also tell him that the fetus grows in a special place inside the mother's body, the uterus. This seems naive? If you don’t specify it, he could imagine that it develops in the stomach or intestine...”, says Jocelyne Robert in her book Parlez-leur d’amour et de sexualité.
With children, simplicity is absolutely necessary. Always give them concise answers. There’s no point in going in too much detail and addressing all aspects of baby-making from the first question! At around age 3, children want to know where babies come from, while at 5 years old, they wonder how babies are made. Nuance. And no child is curious in the same way. It’s important to follow his questions and not get ahead of him. He wants to know ... but not everything at once.
However, always be honest with your child and don’t lie to him. It’s better to establish some facts right from the start. “To avoid future confusion, explain early on, without too much detail, that sexual intimacy between a man and a woman does not always lead to procreation”, suggests Jocelyne Robert.
You don’t have to be embarrassed by your children’s questions, but you might sometimes find them annoying or not know what to answer. It’s normal. Admit your limitations without feeling any kind of uneasiness. It's okay to tell him that you will give him an answer later. But rest assured, your child will often have had enough after a few answers. He will then absorb everything he’s learned ... and come back to you with other questions later on. Meanwhile, you'll have time to think about it.
You can also refer to books that are really well-maded to address the whole baby issue !