Ask the grumpies: Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for young kids?

Julia asks:

Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for youngish kids? I have a 3 and 5 year old. They have a friend whose mother is pregnant and they are starting to ask pregnancy and “how babies are made” type questions. I want to be prepped and not super awkward about this. Any advice? The book “It’s Not the Stork” seems too advanced for 3 and 5 year olds, but maybe I’m mistaken.

I vaguely remember getting a very clinical description of where babies come from when I was five and my sister was on her way.  (I feel like it was connected to my mom’s Bradley classes?  Or maybe it was something specific for older siblings, I don’t remember… I just vaguely remember pictures of a woman’s reproductive system and one of those 3-d models of a pregnant woman’s belly).  I did not at all connect that with the naughty “sex” thing that showed up on tv all the time that my mom would say was a bit old for me and maybe I shouldn’t be watching.  (See:  Three’s company reruns, Moonlighting, etc.)

I don’t think we did anything for DC1 when DC2 was on the way.  Or maybe we checked out a bunch of stuff from the library?  I can’t actually remember!  So… not the best advice here.  Looking at some of the lists a lot of those covers look familiar, so I think we did get the Facts of Life by Miller and Pelham from the library and Baby on the Way by William and Martha Sears, though I think there was something off about it (and it’s for the situation where you are the one having a new baby, not a friend’s mom), and Being Born by Kitzinger and Nilsson.  The first and last are quite clinical.  I think we got Where do babies come from by Sheffield, but I feel like there was something off about it as well.

Here’s some lists of suggestions from Dr. Google:



kavanaugh report

In short:  Libraries are awesome– see what your library has on the topic and what works for you and your kids.

Grumpy Nation, do you have better recommendations?

12 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for young kids?”

  1. Chelsea Says:

    Also, I would throw in there – because they are so young – to keep asking questions to try to figure out exactly what your kids want to know. My kids were also 5 and 3 when my youngest was born, and my oldest really, really wanted to know where babies came from. Turned out, he was concerned that he was going to have a baby and was very relieved that “only adults have babies, not kids”. Which know is an oversimplification, but it seemed like an appropriate one for a 5-year-old. In any case, it’s possible they may want to know something more like that than a clinical understanding of where babies come from… Or maybe not.

    Now that our oldest is 8 we’re definitely going to be in the market for It’s Not The Stork sooner rather than later…

  2. Gwinne Says:

    What makes a baby is great for explaining reproduction but says nothing about sex. Also lgbtq friendly. My kid was an Ivf with donor gamete baby so that was particularly important for me. Major emphasis on family and love. We’ve been reading since probably age 5.

  3. Quail Says:

    I had a four year old when I was pregnant with my second – almost five when baby was born. I was looking for books about both reproduction/pregnancy as well as what babies are like/becoming a big sibling. (Personally, I think by 5 they are ready for a deeper conversation, but YMMV). We read: Where do babies come from? by Roberts, The New Baby (by Mr. Rogers, total classic but more about adjusting to a new baby sibling), Babies don’t eat pizza, What’s in there? All about before you were born. For this purpose, I think What’s in there? would be great – it’s less about the adjustment to a sibling and more about pregnancy. But I specifically sought out books that told the reproductive story as I wanted a way to broach the sex topic. Read the Amazon reviews and you will get a good idea of the amount of detail in the books (lots of people have strong feelings about their kids NOT knowing that babies often come out between a woman’s legs, apparently). And honestly, my kid didn’t care less about the sex part and had very few questions. But the books are still on the kid’s shelf, so maybe kid will pick them up again now that they are reading independently.

  4. Alison Says:

    I used It’s not the Stork with my son at 3 or 4 and it worked well— he would pick a picture he wanted me to read about. He’s an IVF baby and it worked well for separating discussions of how the pregnancy developed from discussions of how sperm met egg. I also got him a giant microbe sperm/egg set that he loved. Around 5 we added “it’s so amazing” to answer more of his questions on bodies.

  5. EB Says:

    Explaining conception and pregnancy is WAY easier than explaining sex. Partly because they hear all kinds of stuff (including weird and value-laden stuff) from other kids about sex, and you don’t know exactly how that information is being communicated to them.
    But back to pregnancy — what they see is very immediate (she’s getting bigger! there’s a baby in there and it’s kicking! pretty soon it will come out! — you do have to explain the mechanics of that along the lines of “her stomach muscles will squeeze it out”– and then it will be a baby just like all the other babies you see around here). Books can help, but a simple explanation from you, to a 3 year old or 5 year old, will be most important. And, as noted above, ask them to tell you what they want to know, and what they already think about what happens. I kind of missed the boat on that one a few times!

  6. Lisa Says:

    We’ve used “It’s not the stork” for our kids as young as 3-5. As others have said, they’ll get out of it what they need. My oldest, who is very perceptive, caught on to the oblique description of sex in the book right away (at around 5), whereas I’m still not sure my second really grasps the mechanics (old enough that we need to have that conversation much more explicitly now!). “The Baby Tree” is also really cute and minimally informative.

  7. Omdg Says:

    It’s not the stork is written for 4 year olds, at least according to Amazon. We liked Its So Amazing for our daughter, though now she’s moving into It’s Perfectly Normal territory. 😳. I hope this is helpful!

  8. Steph Says:

    I do not have recs, but my dad (a biology teacher) handed me a copy of Being Born when I was roughly 9. I think you’re right that it was very clinical, but that was OK for me at the time. Though their extremely clinical description of penetrative sex stuck with me for some reason, and still amuses me.

    My parents were very matter-of-fact about genitals, but I don’t remember a super specific pregnancy talk. We must have had something, though, because I did have some understanding of pregnancy before reading Being Born.

  9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    We’ve discussed reproduction with JB insofar as babies are grown in uteruses and that people with uteruses are never ever obligated to have babies if they don’t want them. So when Smol came along, after the initial excitement, JB very seriously asked me: Are you sure you want this? Because you know, you don’t have to have it if you don’t really want it.
    That win was offset by the number of times they announced to all and sundry that their mommy had a baby in her uterus. #Awkward

    • teresa Says:

      As a family-planning-specializing-gynecologist, I cannot say how much I love this.

      Apparently when I was two and my mom was pregnant I told all kinds of people (including grocery store cashiers and my great grandmother) that our new baby would be coming out my mommy’s vagina soon. I’m sure she was thrilled.

  10. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    My mother broke out Gray’s Anatomy when I asked (the book, not the show), which was a bit much! She also had a book with pictures of fetuses in utero – “A child is born”- which your library might have. It was cool.

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