Big Tummies, Big Questions

Here, tips for explaining pregnancy — and the adoption that followed it — to your preschooler .

Explaining pregnancy to your preschooler

Preschoolers ask a world of questions — so when they see a pregnant woman at day care or the grocery store, their curiosity may be piqued. Here are a few common questions a preschooler may ask, and how to handle them.

Oh, Baby!

“Mommy, why is that lady so fat?”

When a child asks about a lady’s “big tummy,” it opens the door for you to talk. When explaining pregnancy to your preschooler, consider your values and opinions (how much can your preschooler process, for example, or what does she really need to know?). From there, your discussion can go in one of several directions.

Some parents decide these issues are best explained to kids this age by the “magic of life” idea — babies come from God, the stork brings them, and so on. Others believe that preschoolers aren’t too young to know the basics of reproduction, described in age-appropriate terms, such as “When a mommy and daddy love each other very much, they get very close together, and their love makes a baby.”

The Other Mommy

“Did I get made in your tummy?”

An adopted child will eventually ask this question, and when she does, you’ll have to decide how to answer it. If your child is involved in an open adoption, she has likely heard about her birth mother from the start. This makes it easier to talk about whose tummy she grew in. For a child who does not know his birth mother, you may need to explain this concept for the first time.

Why We Adopted

“How come I didn’t grow inside you?”

This question presents an opportunity to discuss why you chose to adopt. Some parents are open, sharing their reasons quite frankly. Others may still be struggling with the pain of infertility or something else that makes it hard to give a brief and thoughtful response.

In either case, preparation is key. Discuss with your partner, or with a friend, how you want to present information to your child. (There are no hard and fast rules — simply follow your heart.) Whatever you decide, use basic language, tailoring your response to your own situation.

For example, you might say, “You grew in your birth mommy’s tummy because mommy and daddy couldn’t make a baby.” Remember to keep your explanation simple, concise, and clear.

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