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Answering kids' questions about sex is a job many parents don’t look forward to. It may feel awkward when it comes to talking about puberty and where babies come from.

But don’t avoid these topics. You can help your kids have healthy feelings about sex if you answer questions in a way that’s right for their age.

How Do I Talk to Kids About Where Babies Come From?

Based on how old your child is, you can answer questions about where babies come from by saying that a baby grows from an egg in a mom's womb and, next time you see one, point to a pregnant stomach. There’s no need to explain people having sex because very young kids won’t understand.

But you can say that when two people love each other, they like to be close to each other. Tell them that a man's sperm joins a woman's egg and then a baby starts to grow. Many kids younger than age 6 will be OK with this answer. Age-appropriate books on the subject are also helpful. Answer the question directly, and you’ll likely find that your child is fine being told a little information at a time.

As kids get older, you can share more details.

How Do I Talk to Kids About the “Birds and Bees”?

Learning about sex shouldn’t be one “big talk.” Make it more of a process over time as kids learn what they need to know. Answer questions as they come up. This helps satisfy children’s curiosity as they get older. It also lets kids know that they can go to you when they wonder about their bodies or sex.

If your child doesn't ask questions about sex, don't just ignore the subject. Look for chances to talk, like when friends or family have a baby. If it's hard to find the right words, books on how to talk with your child can help.

Kids may come across sexual content online, on TV, or in music. This can be a chance to talk about what they saw and heard, and what they think about sexual content in the media. Sometimes kids and teens may seem embarrassed or pretend not to pay attention, but they’re listening and learning about your values during these talks.

What About Sex Education in School?

Start talking about sex education before your child hears about it in school. The time it’s first covered in class and what teachers go over varies. Many schools start in the fifth or sixth grade, but some don't offer it at all. Topics can include anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy. You might want to ask what your school plans to cover.

Whether kids start to learn about sexual issues in school or outside of it, they’re likely to have many questions. Be open to having talks and answering questions at home. This is important if you want your kids to know how sexuality relates to your family's values.

What Else Should I Know?

Body changes and sexual issues are an important part of growing up. If you have questions about how to talk with your kids about them, ask your doctor for tips. Your doctor can speak with your child too.

And consider giving a teen private time with their doctor at yearly checkups. Let your doctor know if there are certain things you’d like mentioned during these one-on-one talks.

Medically reviewed by: Joy Friedman, MD
Date reviewed: June 2024