Simple answers to complicated questions: why is it raining?

We can’t fault Baby for asking this one, because even most adults don’t know how or why it rains. You might have learned how the weather works when you were in elementary school, but by now the details may be a little fuzzy. Luckily there’s still time to brush up on your knowledge of weather 101. If the words ‘water vapor,’ ‘condensation,’ and ‘evaporation’ ring a bell, you’re even more knowledgeable than you thought!

So really, why is it raining? Here’s how to answer that question in a way that your toddler will understand.

The simple answer

Point to clouds in the sky and say to Baby, “See those clouds? They’re made up of teensy tiny pieces of water. When those tiny pieces of water get cold, they stick together to make bigger drops of water. When these drops get too heavy to stay in the air, they fall down to us and splash on our heads if we don’t have an umbrella or jacket.”


Keep these in mind when you’re answering Baby‘s complicated questions about the weather.

  • First ask Baby what they think: One way to encourage critical thinking is to prompt Baby to form conclusions on their own, before you offer an explanation. When Baby asks you why it rains, see if you can get away with asking why they think it rains before you tell them.
  • Encourage learning and discovery: There’s so much more to know about the water cycle, and if Baby seems interested, it can’t hurt to have some weather-related books lying around for them to explore. Consider finding an age-appropriate book or online resources, like videos and pictures, about the weather and natural processes.

A final note

For better or for worse, the days when Baby relies on you for all their information won’t last forever. For the time being, try to cherish Baby‘s questions! As you know, the world can get pretty complicated, and it always helps to have an adult around who can simplify the hard stuff.


  • “Is rain formed by the condensation of water vapor or by the melting of ice?” NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, USA, n.d. Available at
  • Discovery Channel. “Why does it rain?” DiscoveryKids. Discovery Communications LLC, 2017. Available at 
  • “How to develop critical thinking skills in kids.” BrightHorizons. Bright Horizons Family Solutions, 2017. Available at 
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