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How are babies made?

We learn about how babies are made with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes a Baby.

How are babies made? We speak with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes A Baby, for answers to questions about how we all come into the world. This is a conversation that welcomes all kinds of families as we answer questions about why babies don't hatch out of eggs, why boys have nipples, why girls have babies but boys don't and why some people look more like one parent more than the other. Later in the episode we also explore how we get our last names and how two people can have the same last name when they're not related. We made this episode with our youngest listeners in mind, but parents may want to preview this episode on their own or listen with their kids.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

"How are babies made?"
- Wade, 7, Charlottesville, Va.

  • In his book What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg begins by reminding kids and grownups that there are really two questions: what makes a baby in general, and then the more specific question that is unique to you--where did you come from? That's a question that only your parent or parents or the adults who love you can answer.
  • While there are lots of ways that babies join families, some things are true for all of us. “For all humans to be born we need three things. We need to start with an egg; we need to start with a sperm; and those come from two different bodies. And then we need a third body part which is called a uterus. That's where we grow, where this tiny, tiny thing grows into a baby, which is the thing you are when you are born," Silverberg explains.

Book recommendations from Cory Silverberg

Books Geared to Kids 4 - 7 (ish)

What Makes a Baby

By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth

A book about where babies come from that works for every kind of family, regardless of who is in it and how the child came to be.

What's the Big Secret: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys

By Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

A simplified and clear introduction to reproduction, genitals, and touch. Leaves out a lot of kids and families, but better than most.

Who Are You? The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity

by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff

Also simplified, but a good introduction on gender identity written and illustrated for younger children.

Books Geared to Kids  7 to 10 (ish)

The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls

By Valorie Schaefer and Josee Masse

Only for girls, and not trans inclusive, but still one of the best books to cover a range of sexuality and puberty related topics.

It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families

By Robie Harris and Michael Emberly

Covers reproduction including intercourse gestation and birth, with a focus on heterosexual, gender normative parents and kids.

Sex Is a Funny Word

By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth

Covers body parts, boundaries, touch, and an extensive gender section for kids and families of all identities and orientations.

Stacey's Not a Girl

By Colt Keo-Meier, illustrated by Jesse Yang

A picture book about a kid who knows they aren't a girl, but isn't sure if they are a boy.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.

But Why is a project of Vermont Public.

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