"Hey Child" started with a writing session between X Ambassadors frontman Sam Harris and producer Andrew Wells. Harris told Billboard
that he liked the chorus and he "felt the song had a good vibe." However his verses "were bland and didn't really say anything," so he played it to Ricky Reed, who executive produced Orion
. Reed's comment was, "This is cool but I don't really know what you're talking about."
Following Reed's feedback, Harris decided to turn the song into a missive to one of his best friends growing up with whom he doesn't have a relationship now. "I wanted to write it to him and the message of the song is pretty clear," he explained: "if you're going through a dark time, don't worry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, everything is going to be all right."