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Children aged 2-4

1. How are babies made?

Mammies and daddies (grown-ups) make babies.

2. Why do I have a willy and she doesn’t?

Another name for your ‘willy’ is your penis and only boys have a penis. Girls have a vulva.

3. Did I grow in your tummy?

I know it looks like that but there is a special place in a woman’s body for babies to grow that’s near the tummy called the uterus or womb.

4. How did I get into your uterus (or womb)?

Daddy put a special seed in mammy’s uterus, and it grew into a baby, you!

5. What is sex?

Sex means whether you are a boy or a girl.

6. What does gay mean?

Gay is when two boys or girls, or men or women, like each other and might want to be boyfriends or girlfriends.

7. Why does that girl have two mums (or two dads)?

Because there are lots of different types of family and in her family there are two mums (dads) to love her

Additional guidance

Small children are often fascinated with their genitalia and often ask questions about their genitalia. This is perfectly natural.

Naming the genitals: What words should I use?

Many parents have difficulty in using the correct anatomical names for the genitals. However, we recommend that they do so from the start. If you decide to use pet names for genitals, your child should also know the correct terms as knowing and being able to use these words means that they can talk clearly to medical and other professionals about their genitals should there be a need.
You can teach your child the names of genitals in the same way you teach names for other things. If you are changing a little boy’s nappy, you can say “I am just cleaning your penis”, or for a little girl “I must give your vulva a little wipe.” After a bath, you can introduce the words naturally by saying things like “I am drying your feet, your legs, your penis, your bum, etc.”

A short description of the external genitals for parents

Girls’ genitals

Vulva – this is the area of soft skin between a girl’s legs. (Sometimes the word ‘vagina’ is incorrectly used to describe this.)

The vulva includes:

  • the labia majora and labia minora (the fleshy folds of skin)
  • the clitoris (the sensitive organ at the front of the vulva)
  • two openings: one in to the urethra (for urine) and one in to the vagina, which is the internal muscular tube that leads from the vulva to the womb (uterus)

Boys’ genitals

Penis – an organ made up of soft spongy tissue which can become erect because of extra blood flow. It has one opening in the tip called the urethra, out of which urine is passed. After puberty, sperm also leave the body through the urethra (but not at the same time as urine).

Testicles – small round organs which hang down under the penis. They produce testosterone and, after puberty, sperm. One of the functions of testosterone is to help boys physically develop into men.

Scrotum – the soft skin that holds the testicles.

Questions about conception, birth and babies

Small children are especially fascinated with questions about conception and birth, but it’s of interest to most children. Many of the questions are progressive, one leading to another. Short, simple but factually correct explanations should be tailored by parents to reflect the child’s family and birth circumstances, expanding over time to cover the various ways in which children can be conceived and born and the variety of family types.