Tough Questions: Talking to a Young Child about Baby No. 2

by Gena Kittner

Ellie: How is new baby getting out of your tummy?

Me: I’m going to wiggle him out.

I was just about to pat myself on the back for what I thought was a snappy, non-graphic, on-the-spot answer regarding delivery of our second child, due in July, when my 3-year-old came at me with a follow up:

Ellie: How did it get in there?

Oh boy.

How to talk to your Young Child about baby #2

Ellie is super excited to be a big sister, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s her favorite topic of conversation. She alternates between what toys she thinks “new baby” (as we’ve coined him) will like, and which ones she plans to hide.

She’s also had lots of questions. In the beginning, when I’d started to show and we told her mommy had a baby growing in my tummy, Ellie decided she had a baby growing in her tummy, too.

She’s since abandoned this idea as I’ve continued to expand and she hasn’t. Now she’s more concerned with the details of her brother’s arrival.

In the true preschooler mindset, everything must happen immediately. Almost daily she asks if new baby’s here. I tell her he has more growing to do and will be born when “it’s really, really hot.”

Ellie Is your baby giving kicks?

Me: No, I think he’s sleeping now.

Ellie: Why is he sleeping? It’s morning time!

But back to the tough question at hand — how he got there to begin with. In the end, I took the easy way out.

Me: You know when we plant tiny tomato seeds and they grow into big, tall plants? Well, mommy has a small seed in her tummy and it’s growing into a baby boy.

Ellie: Oh, OK … (But) he’s going to be too big to get out of your tummy.

Yeah, no kidding.

A couple days later, I went online to see how other moms approached this topic, figuring I could always improve my answer when I’m inevitably asked again.

But I didn’t find anything I really liked. I’m the first to admit I’ve taken the easy, not-anatomically-correct route. But I’m just not ready to get that real with my 3-year-old. Some Internet commenters suggested watching a video of puppy or human births. But as truly awesome as I think the miracle of birth is, even I don’t want to watch it on video. Plus, Ellie tends to get scared during tense moments of Sofia the First. I don’t want to scar her with, literally, blood and guts.

So I’m still on the hunt for better answers.

Mommies of multiple children — how did you answer inquiries involving the arrival of your “new baby”?


Gena is a Midwest transplant living in TucsoGena Kittnern, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous posts on Mommy Sanest.

Mommy Sanest is Expanding

Let me tell you a story. Seventeen years ago, I went to orientation at Ohio University the summer before college began. I knew my roommate’s name — room assignments had been sent earlier in the summer — and I knew she would be at the same orientation session. We had plans to meet, but before that happened, we ended up sitting back-to-back at lunch and somehow, my mom figured out that she was at the table next to us.

And so, Gena Kittner and I met, eyed each other suspiciously, and after a few months of living together in a tiny dorm room, became friends. (The turning point for Gena, according to Gena, was when I hugged her good-bye for winter break.)

Post-college, Gena and I have become even closer. Before Mommy Sanest was born and Gena’s family moved to Arizona, I would retreat from Chicago to visit Gena in Wisconsin (and not just because she always bought me New Glarus beer). Then she had her daughter Ellie, and I had Emme 11 months later, providing us with yet another dimension to our friendship. When I started Mommy Sanest, I “jokingly” asked Gena, who is a seasoned journalist, if she would be interested in writing for me from time to time.

And the rest is history.

Then, last fall, I met a woman named Deb at a mom’s group in the western suburbs of Chicago. I swear I wasn’t being a stalker, but I happened across her Facebook profile and realized that she and Gena, both journalists, worked together in Wisconsin for several years. Deb was relatively new in town, so the next time I saw her, I said something about not being a stalker, but I thought we might have a connection in common… oh, and would you like write for my blog?

And the rest is history.

Then it the whole thing got META.

In November, Deb wrote a piece for Mommy Sanest about baby sprinkles — smaller showers for moms who are expecting their second child. Who would have thought that less than six months later, Gena, Deb, and I (we’ve never all been in the same room!) would be celebrating together at a baby sprinkle…

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for Gena! Baby no. 2 is on his way (yep, his).

Gena’s sister, who lives in Chicago, threw an adorable destination sprinkle for Gena. Family came from Ohio, friends from Wisconsin, Gena from Arizona (obviously), and Deb and I from the ‘burbs. The theme was cowboys and cactuses.

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Don’t worry Internet Police, Gena’s just refreshing my prosecco mimosa. Isn’t she an adorable pregnant lady? Not to mention, she’s a great host… why on earth is she getting me a drink?

It was good food and lots of fun. I always love catching up with Gena’s family, and it was so cool to finally hang out with Deb and Gena in the same place, at the same time. I feel lucky to have both of these women in my life, and the random connection really does make it all the more special.

Anyway, I can’t tell you how excited I am for Gena (and not just because I know this will give her good material to blog about). Gena is an amazing mom, which you probably already figured out based on her creative playdates and smart parenting tips, and Ellie is going to be an awesome big sister. I told her that when her son is 21, I will be able to say, “I’ve been friends with your mom for 40 years,” when I call him on my space phone from Mommy Sanest’s moon office.

Congratulations Gena!