Kids ask a lot of questions. I don’t know what parents did before Google because, believe it or not, I don’t know off the top of my head why people plant grass on their lawns instead of gardens, how fast a horse can run, or why clowns think it’s funny to pack themselves into a compact car.
Some questions our children ask are easily answered and never thought of again. Other ones, for whatever reason, stress us out. A common biggie on this list is when a child asks a grown up where babies come from. While most people easily reply that a baby comes from a mom’s belly, it’s the follow up questions that really make them sweat, like how did that baby get there? Some people tell their children whatever it is their parents told them when they asked about the birds and the bees, while others just make something up.
No matter how open you are or plan to be with your little one, since the dawn of time there have been a number of myths, lies, and fairy tales about where babies really come from. We’re going to take a look at some “out there” baby explanations that a number of cultures truly believed, common stories told by parents, and some pretty wild and funny answers parents came up with to explain human reproduction.
Buckle up, things are about to get awkward!
15Legend Of The Stork
The legend of the stork has been around for a long time. Because it’s a classic tale, we keep bringing it back and introducing it to a new generation of children, further confusing where babies really come from. This generation might believe in storks thanks to the 2016 film Storks. This European folklore was made popular in the 19th Century by famous fairy tale writer Hans Christian Anderson. Legend had it the storks found infants in nature, usually in caves or marshes, and brought them to parents in a basket. The babies would be delivered to families who left sweets out for the stork to notify them that they wanted a delivery. To further confuse our children, sometimes parents call a birth mark on the back of a small child’s neck a “stork bite.”
14In A Father's Dream
The Tiwi tribe are from northern Australia and believe in a parallel universe where people could travel through three different planes of existence (unborn, living, and dead). This was called “the Dreaming.” Children were conceived during the dreams of their father and the spirit then “enters” the mother's body and goes into a little egg inside the placenta. It was believed that intercourse was a helper in baby making, but not always linked to the father, since it was the woman’s husband who was the dreamer, which meant paternity was never an issue in the tribe. Many Tiwi women were promised for marriage before birth, since Tiwis believed it was very important for all children to have a father in their lives, so there was no worry about single parenting there. Tiwi women and men stop sexual relations during pregnancy. If a Tiwi father dies, the widow is married to another man on the day of her husband’s death, so no child ever goes without a dad.
13They Come From Past Lives
A conspiracy theorist, named Samuel Murray, recently posted his own thoughts about what’s really going on in terms of birth and the afterlife. Samuel’s post on Facebook asserts that he knows precisely what happens to humans when they die. He has suggested that the “light at the end of the tunnel,” which people report seeing when they have experienced a near-death experience, is actually the bright light a baby sees when they enter this world, often inside a well-lit hospital room. He also believes that babies cry so much after they are born because they are upset about the old life they have left behind. He suggests that as babies grow up, they forget about their previous life and begin to adjust to their new one, and believes that small pieces of memories from our previous life can account for that feeling of déjà vu we get sometimes.
12A Magic Pill
It sounds like The Matrix. The blue pill will give you a baby boy and the red one will give you a girl, take them together and you’ll end up with both. We take pills to make our hearts healthy, vitamins to help keep us strong, and some people even take birth control pills when they want to avoid getting pregnant, so logic would dictate that there might also be a pill that could produce a baby. Children who are around parents who are undergoing fertility treatment hear a lot of discussion around the more medical side of conception, so the pharmacist’s intervention would be key. One person said, "I didn't know what sex was, but my parents told me that if you want kids, you have to go to the pharmacy. If you want a girl, they will give you a pink pill, and for a boy, they'll give you a blue pill. And then the mommy takes it and has a baby nine months later!"
11It's Like Baking A Cake
This one is the grossest item in the list, sorry. The Huli and Arapesh basically believed that babies are made up of a lot of hard work, and a cumulative product of repeated intercourse. While these beliefs are pretty accurate biologically, since they knew that intercourse led to babies, they thought that infants were literally comprised of a combination of sperm pairing up with menstrual blood like some sort of slowly incubating Betty Crocker cake mix. It was believed that sperm was what created skin and bones, while the menses blood created the internal organs. Just stop for a moment and think about how much intercourse you’d need to have over nine months to create the average six to eight pounds of newborn baby, shudder. Because of the work involved in the business of baby making, the Arapesh distinguished between fun, carefree intercourse, and the repetitive baby making kind.
10Just Insert And Wait
Kids have their own experiences with their bodies. As a child you understand where urines comes from. Even when your parents have the best intentions of telling you the real deal about how babies are made, sometimes the wires are still going to get crossed. When you talk about someone releasing semen into the V, some children might naturally think about other bodily fluids. One reader told Bustle, "I knew it involved the man's parts going into a woman's V, and something coming out. But I thought that 'something' was pee. Yes, I thought the man peed inside you.” Another reader said, "I thought that you put the P in and just left it there overnight, completely unaware that there was any orgasm involved. The next morning — voila! — you had had the sex!"
9Three Men, A Woman, And A Baby
People are a composite of their ancestors and relatives. Various traits come from mom, dad, aunts, uncles, and many different generations before that. A number of communities in the Amazon believe that a baby is a result of numerous sexual partners that a mother has over the nine months preceding her infant’s birth. So if a pregnant woman had intercourse with three men over that particular 40 weeks, the baby would be born to three fathers to provide for him or her, without secrets or threats of infidelity tearing apart their family because that’s simply the way things work in their culture. This approach to family is very different than the strict perspective that modern western cultures have taken on the nuclear family and seems to have suited them very well.
8Cabbage Patch Kids
In the 1980’s the “it” toy was Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, something that kids everywhere could adopt and make their new BFF. “Cabbage Patch Kids are kids and babies of all sizes and shapes that are born in the secret cabbage patch.” These orphans were a hit toy, and a legend that little kids ate up. So why wouldn’t children think that they themselves emerged from a carefully tended garden, much like a butterfly awakens from its chrysalis. Sarah Louise Smith Cole told Babble, “My mom and grandma used to tell me that they found me under a gooseberry bush and that’s where I came from.” Give a child an exciting back story, and they’re going to be bound to listen to it, especially if it gives them something in common with their favorite toy!
7Ghosts From Another Land
In the Trobriander culture it was NBD for your sex life to start quite young, and for variety to be the spice of life when it came to who hooked up with whom. They didn’t even make the connection between bumping uglies and babies; they had other ideas about that. If you were from the Trobriand Islands, you might believe that babies were a lot like that scene from Ghost where Patrick Swayze talks through Whoopi Goldberg, but with babies. This is how pregnancy was believed to have worked there: someone died, then they become a baloma (which is like a ghost who lives on the Island of the Dead, where they live like Peter Pan). When the ghosts got bored with their Never land existence they’d simply decide to teleport into one of their relative's uterius.
6No Big O, No Baby
While most parents aren’t going to want to explain the big O as a part of their birds and the bees conversations, in Elizabethan culture, it was believed that no baby could be conceived from bad sex. If a lovely was lady left unsatisfied, she’d finish her encounter empty handed and with an empty uterus. It was thought that the female orgasm released some sort of seed that was necessary in order for conception and that the female clitoris was responsible for releasing this baby making magic. By this logic, one would assume that a man with a large family would be considered somewhat of a Casanova, as he was obviously able to keep his woman very satisfied, and her uterus full. Hopefully he was also able to provide for his large brood of babies as well!
5Kissy Kissy Time
Kids are sponges. They absorb everything around them. So when they ask about how babies are made and a parent responds with, “when two people love each other very much and decide they want a family…” the child will connect the intimacy of baby making with other intimate things they have witnessed their parents doing, whether it’s holding hands, or kissing for a really, really long time. One reader told Bustle, when they were a child they thought a simple kiss on the mouth was all it took for baby making. Another revealed, “I thought it was all hugging and kissing in bed until I was like five. Then I found out the truth and for the first couple of weeks after that I felt really uncomfortable around girls. I figured everyone knew but me and there was this whole big sex world at school that I wasn't a part of.”
It’s true, you can get pretty much anything delivered directly to your door nowadays. One of the reasons why the English language can be such a challenge for people to learn is because there are so many words that have multiple meanings or nuances. It’s understandable that a child will take their parent at face value when they answer a question, even if there is more than one interpretation available. One mother notes, "My son thought the doctor who delivered him actually delivered him to our door! I corrected that real quick." It’s easy for children to believe that a baby is brought to the front door of the house, just like a pizza. With people saying things like “bun in the oven” when referring to pregnancy, you can see where a child would think that a baby arrives in 30 minutes or he’s free!
My kids know a lot about nature. They get excited in the spring when they see bird nests and even watched eggs hatch online. And although my children have never witnessed a human being born, they know that it involves an egg that mom releases. So this can get even foggier when we add in discussions about mom and dad “nesting” as they prepare for the arrival of a baby. So why wouldn’t they believe that their parents produce a baby like a chicken, a swan, or a duck. One mother dished, "My son said they come from eggs that pop out of a mommy's butt." I must admit, when I told my daughter that a surgeon cut her and her twin brother out of my belly, the skeptical look on her face said she’d be more likely to believe a story about me laying eggs.
It’s understandable for parents to want break down things for their children so they can better understand. For anyone who’s gardened with their little ones, you know this is a great way to connect children to nature, life, and even to get them to eat healthier food. Exposures to seeds or seedlings becoming big plants is logical, so why wouldn’t kids also assume babies are also grown from seeds. Heck, I used to believe that if I accidentally swallowed an apple seed that an apple would grow in my stomach. One person commented, "when my cousin was four he told me he came from apple seeds. My daughter thought that mommies had the girls and daddies had the boys." Plants come from seeds, we often refer to a baby in our belly as a little seed or bean, so why wouldn’t children take the next logical leap?
Malaysians used to believe that before a baby was able to be born, the father had to get pregnant, with the baby implanted into his brain. There is no real explanation how his mind was impregnated - impure thoughts maybe? During these 40 days, it was believed that the baby would absorb a number of awesome traits from daddy, like reason and logic. Next the baby moved out of the brain and headed to his privates, where he shoots this tiny baby into the lucky mom to be. While a number of these thoughts are quite sexist, like how logic couldn’t possibly come from a woman, it does bring the responsibility to both parents since the father has also “carried” the child, only his pregnancy ends in a big O and hers with tearing. Malay culture also believed that dad experienced cravings when he was “expecting.”
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