The ‘where do babies come from?’ question is inevitable. The question can come at any time, from children of any age, and the answer to the question can vary wildly (which is funny given that ultimately, there is only one true answer). Yet, how much you tell your child and what language you use, will depend very much on your own situation. Regardless of approach, it’s always best to be prepared.
At heart, I’m a scientist. When my eldest son asked where babies came from (relevant given that he has three younger siblings), I made factual references to eggs and sperm but kept the mechanics vague. He accepted my response but later became confused when his friend at kinder “got a new baby from Father Christmas…”. “Well, maybe they had a Christmas wish for a baby, but our babies came from eggs and sperm,” I responded, carefully respectful of what other parents choose to tell their children.
The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall (of Ivy & Bean fame), reveals the basics of reproduction in an age-appropriate way for pre-schoolers and young children. The story is told through the eyes of a little boy who learns that his parents are expecting a baby. Initially this news pleases the boy who, cashing-in on his parents’ excitement asks for an extra helping of Coco Pops at breakfast. However, the news soon becomes perplexing – where do babies come from, he wonders.
The boy asks several people and gets different (and appropriately elusive) answers from each – his babysitter tells him that you “..plant a seed and it grows into a Baby Tree…”; his teacher tells him that babies come from the hospital; his grandfather trots out the stork story; and the mailman thinks babies come from eggs. When he finally asks his parents, the boy discovers that there’s an element of truth to all the stories he’s heard (except his grandfather’s, something that he’ll take it upon himself to correct!).
Thanks to Blackall’s distinctive pen and ink illustrations, there are lots of funny details in this story – the drawing of the Baby Tree, with babies peeping out from unfurling buds; swaddled babies emerging from a hospital in single file; and babies in a nest are all sweetly imaginative.
An afterword, titled ‘Answering the Question Where Do Babies Come From?’, gives more detailed information on how to answer questions about reproduction. It also addresses specific topics such as twins, adoption, how babies ‘get out’, and families with same-sex parents.
This book marries the fictional and the non-fictional to perfection, blending imagination and fact. I highly recommend it to have on hand for when questions arise, or to use to initiate a conversation with young children about reproduction.
Find The Baby Tree at Book Depository. Book Depository deliver free of charge to Australia.