Decoding the Jargon of Pregnancy and Parenting
What language are these people speaking?!
Pregnancy forums, Facebook mom groups, and even emails from your in-the-know BFF sometimes read like gibberish: TTC, EBF, SAHM, LO, DH, MIL, BLW. Even commonly used phrases like “co-sleeping” can be poorly understood or used to mean many things. Our glossary is here to demystify the world of pregnancy and parenting jargon because Hello Baby wants to make parenting easier.
Here are all the obscure terms and acronyms you are most likely to encounter, arranged chronologically along your journey towards parenthood.
A word of warning: before you dive in, brace yourself. Conceiving, giving birth, and parenting involve some messy biological realities, and we’re definitely keeping it real here. Feel free to skip past sections that get a little rough. And of course, if you have medical questions, please consult a medical professional immediately: this article is background information, not medical advice.
- The pregnancy decision
- The monthly cycle for pregnancy seekers
- Pregnancy test acronyms
- Advanced assistance with conception
- While you’re pregnant
- Medical misfortunes in pregnancy
- Childbirth terms
- Words to know about newborns
- Mom’s post-childbirth health challenges
- Feeding baby
- When baby gets sick
- Diapering baby
- Getting baby to snooze
- Transporting baby
- Soothing and entertaining baby
- Clothing baby
- Popular parenting philosophies
- Mocking names for parenting styles
- Problematic terms
- Other common abbreviations
- General internet jargon
- Good luck!
The pregnancy decision
Different shades of navigating a life-changing decision.
BC - Usually means birth control, but it can also be an abbreviation for “because” or it can mean life Before Children. BCPS stands for “birth control pills.”
We were thinking of quitting BC anyway, so when I forgot to pack the BCPS, that was like a message from the universe.
NFP - Natural family planning, also know as the rhythm method (using a calendar, thermometer, or app to keep track of your monthly fertility cycle). I tried NFP, but it was too hard to take my temperature first thing in the morning: I kept knocking the thermometer off the bedside table with my clumsy morning hands.
NTNP - Not trying/not preventing (pregnancy). Charting my fertility on graph paper just doesn’t feel super romantic? So I am NTNP for now. We’ll see if it works.
TTC - Trying to conceive. Once my wife gets her raise, we might start TTC! We’ll have enough household income for me to be a stay-at-home dad.
The monthly cycle for pregnancy seekers
Reducing embarrassing biological realities to something so simple, they can be spelled out with animal crackers. It’s definitely the way to go.
DTD - Do the deed: sex. I knew it was definitely the right time of month to DTD but every time we started to get cozy, he’d get a text or an alert. Tomorrow night, I’m hiding his phone.
BD - Baby dancing: sex for conception. I wanted to BD on all my fertile days, but my husband and I work really different shifts, so I was usually off in dreamland by the time he was ready to BD.
CD - Cycle day (not to be confused with a music CD!) Many TTC couples count the days of their menstrual cycle and the associated numbers, so they can look up exactly what happens on each day of the cycle. I’m in CD 18 so it’s not time to test yet, but I swear, I feel different.
O - Ovulation: when your ovaries release an egg. So it’s my first month tracking O, and go figure, it happens exactly when my husband has left for a conference. NOOooo
CM - Cervical mucus (also known as CF, or cervical fluid) is the mucus that comes out of your vagina, and the consistency changes when you’re fertile. I know exactly what my body is doing from the texture of my CM– it’s awesome! Pro tip: frank discussion of these details may embarrass certain parties.
EWCM- Eggwhite cervical mucus. This describes the appearance of the mucus that indicates the most fertility. It is thin, watery, and transparent like an egg white. There was so much EWCM, I thought it was an early period. Doesn’t happen to me often, but it’s nice to have a clear signal.
BBT - Basal body temperature, your lowest temperature of the day, occurs right after you wake up. It rises slightly right after you ovulate, so you can use it to detect ovulation. You still use graph paper to track your BBT? Join the rest of the twenty-first century and download an app!
OPK - Ovulation predictor test kit: it tests for the luteinizing hormone (LH) that prompts egg release and lets you know when you’re about to ovulate.
My husband doesn’t like to hear my OPK results, he says it makes romance too scientific. So I told him, “Science is hot.”
LP - Luteal phase: the part of your monthly cycle after your ovaries release their egg, but before your period starts. I’m in my LP now, and the suspense is killing me.
DPO - Days past ovulation. At 7 DPO, my breasts were really hurting, so I told my best friend, “That’s a clue,” and she said, “You’re like the Sherlock Holmes of pregnancy.”
TWW - Two week window after ovulating: the amount of time you have to wait before you can take an accurate pregnancy test. During the TWW, I alternate between being certain I’m pregnant and being certain I’m not pregnant–just crazy.
Implantation bleeding - Bleeding that can sometimes occur 6-12 days after the egg is fertilized, when the fertilized egg attaches to the wall of the uterus. It’s a bit early for a visit from Auntie Flo, so I’m wondering if it could be implantation bleeding maybe?
AF - Aunt Flo: your period. Although it’s a super cute term, perhaps it unfairly stereotypes aunts as being unwelcome visitors? Of course AF picks the day I’m out of chocolate to swing by.
BW - Blood week: another way to say your period. BW is three days late now. Either I’m pregnant, or AF is just biding her time to surprise me at the worst possible moment.
PG - Pregnant. Break out the emoticons. I made it: PG!
Pregnancy test acronyms
You never heard so many ways to discuss peeing on a stick.
BFN - Big fat negative on your pregnancy test. Don’t be discouraged. I can’t tell you how many times I was staring down the barrel of a BFN, before things finally worked out.
BFP - Big fat positive on your pregnancy test. I finally got my BFP: break out the champagne!…I mean the sparkling cider.
POAS- Pee on a stick: aka to take a pregnancy test.
My mother told me I should wait much longer before I POAS. I said, “It’s not your uterus, mom.” She said, “But it’s my grandchild.” Nice comeback, mom.
EVAP- Pregnancy test evaporation lines: very faint lines on your pregnancy test that make your test look positive when it’s not (happens when you wait too long to check the test). Take a look at this photo and tell me whether you think this is an EVAP or not.
HPT - Home pregnancy test. I screamed for my husband to come to the bathroom and he grumbled, “What?! Are you out of toilet paper again…?” and then I held up my HPT.
CBWE- Clearblue advanced pregnancy test with weeks estimator: a pregnancy test that estimates for you how many weeks you’ve been pregnant. My CBWE has said “2 weeks” for two weeks now, so clearly I’m in a magical time suspension bubble! Thank you CBWE.
Advanced assistance with conception
Nearly 12% of women have gotten help with infertility over the course of their lifetime, and the online conversation around technological assistance with pregnancy is amazingly detailed.
Baby dust - Wishing someone baby dust is a way of wishing someone good luck when they’re trying to get pregnant. It’s like fairy dust, but for babies. You just started your two week wait? I’m wishing you lots and lots of baby dust!!!
ART - Assisted reproductive technology. We’ve been trying for a year so I am looking into the first steps for ART.
AC - Assisted conception: any one of a variety of treatments to help you conceive.
I have my AC appointment on Thursday, so wish us lots of luck.
AI - Artificial insemination (more commonly called IUI, or intrauterine insemination). Injecting sperm by a method other than sex, typically with a needleless syringe, although other devices may be used. (AI is not artifical intelligence!) First step on our fertility journey, IUI number one! Wish us baby dust.
AIH - Artificial insemination with husband’s sperm. We’re planning on AIH, but thankfully DI is available as a backup.
DI - Donor insemination. Anna and Elizabeth, it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating your beautiful wedding… and now you’re planning your DI and shopping for houses in kid-friendly neighborhoods. Time just flies by!
SD - Sperm donor. I only wanted two things from my SD, for him to have straight A’s and be a basketball player.
IVF - In vitro fertilization: When they collect eggs from your ovaries, combine them with sperm in a lab setting, and return the fertilized egg to your uterus. We haven’t done IVF before, so its all new to us. We are a little scared and nervous, but we are looking forward to the possibility of finally becoming parents!
Ovarian stimulation - Taking medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs, as a first step in the IVF process.
Different people’s bodies react to the medications used in ovarian stimulation in different ways.
ER - Egg retrieval - The step in the IVF process when the fertility doctor retrieves the eggs. My egg retrieval went really well! No sign of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) so far. Can’t wait to hear how many of the eggs fertilized normally!
ET - Embryo transfer: Placing the embryos in your uterus. Our reproductive endocrinologist recommended transferring only one embryo for our embryo transfer. We are so excited. Now for the two week wait!
IUI - Intrauterine insemination: Selecting the most healthy sperm and placing them directly in your uterus at exactly the right time, so they don’t have as far to swim and have the best chance of success. No, the IUI doesn’t hurt. I didn’t even feel the catheter going into my cervix.
POF - Premature ovarian failure: when your ovaries fail before age 40. My mom went into menopause early, so I am planning to have the blood test early on to see if I also have POF.
RE- Reproductive endocrinologist AKA fertility expert. It took us so long to find a good RE, but Dr. Laura is VERY reassuring.
While you’re pregnant
The “miracle of creating new life” sure comes with a lot of jargon and medical terminology…
MS - Morning sickness. My midwife says it’s a great sign to have MS this early. So… yay?
EDD - Estimated date of delivery AKA due date. My EDD is within two weeks of my sister-in-law’s EDD, and we’re already talking about throwing joint birthday parties with water fights and bouncy castles.
US - Ultrasound: Visualizes your baby’s position inside the womb using sound waves. I said, “What a cute little baby head,” and the US tech said, “No that’s actually his butt.” My husband sure had fun with that.
OB - Obstetrician-Gynecologist. Finding a good OB is absolutely the most important thing. Keep on looking until you find someone you’re 100% comfortable with.
HCG levels - Human chorionic gonadotropin: The hormone a pregnancy test measures, which increases over the course of a pregnancy. Sometimes lower-than-normal levels indicate a non-viable pregnancy. When my hCG levels didn’t match the chart, I started to freak out, but my doctor told me that overall levels can vary by person; it’s just that ideally they double every 48 hours.
Anatomy Scan - A 20-week ultrasound that goes over all your baby’s organs (to measure them and check if they’re okay) and also tells you the gender of your baby. I have the picture from the anatomy scan framed on my desk at work. The best part is, he’s 100% healthy!
Lamaze method - One of the most commonly taught types of childbirth classes known particularly for the breathing techniques they teach. I felt a little awkward about going to Lamaze class for the first time: so my boyfriend decided to be super excited about it, which did cheer me up.
Kegels - Also called pelvic floor exercises: You flex the muscles that support your uterus, bladder, and bowels, in order to strengthen them. Doing kegels can make pregnancy and labor easier. I always do kegels while I’m waiting in line for my bagel because the fact that kegels and bagels rhymes reminds me that I should be doing kegels.
Amniocentesis - Amniotic fluid test (or AFT) AKA amnio: A test that detects genetic abnormalities and infections in your unborn baby. My doctor advised me not to get an amnio, and instead go with NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing). It’s less risky for the baby.
Medical misfortunes in pregnancy
Online forums can be a comforting place to discuss the tragedies and misfortunes of childbearing with other women who have gone through similar experiences. Don’t dwell on all the things that could go wrong, though. Although this part of our glossary is a scary read, just remember the most likely outcome is for everything to go just fine!
CVS - Chorionic villus sampling: A form of prenatal diagnosis to determine chromosomal or genetic disorders. Given the CVS results, can you recommend any online groups or in-person meetups for parents of children with special needs?
Preeclampsia - When your blood vessels constrict too much during pregnancy and raise your blood pressure: this can endanger mother and baby, especially if develops into eclampsia. It can also cause premature birth, small birth size, disability, or seizures. I had preeclampsia, and I want to urge you: if have any of symptoms like swollen feet or face, headaches, or fatigue, ask about them immediately.
HG - Hyperemesis gravidarum: Severe, persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy — more extreme than “morning sickness.” Dry bland foods and fluids are the first line of treatment, although severe cases are given additional fluids through an IV. When I had HG, a “meal” for me was part of an Eggo waffle with nothing on it, ten pieces of cereal, or a few pretzel sticks. Not all at the same time!
Placenta previa - when the placenta blocks the cervix (which is between the uterus and the vagina). This causes bleeding during the second half of pregnancy and is treated with extra bed rest and birth via C-section. Now that I’ve given birth, it feels weird not having to worry about bleeding any longer. I’m so glad to have all that behind me, finally.
GD - Gestational diabetes: diabetes you only have when you’re pregnant. It’s hard to keep to my GD diet. I keep having this dream where I’m in a house made of cake and I have to eat my way out of it.
EP - Ectopic pregnancy: When your fertilized egg starts growing somewhere other than your uterus. This can be very dangerous. After my experience with EP, my advice is: You have to be your own advocate! You have to ask for tests if you’re worried.
IC - Incompetent cervix: When weak cervical tissue leads to the premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy. With my IC, I try and take it one day at a time knowing that everyday he’s safe inside is a win.
NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit, a place in the hospital for sick or prematurely born babies. The medical and emotional support from the NICU staff and love of family and friends is what got us through.
MC - Miscarriage: losing a pregnancy. Honestly, what was most comforting was the sheer number of my friends who have also had MC. It was like, this is part of the sisterhood, you know?
SB - Still birth: A baby who dies after 24 weeks of pregnancy. (If it happens before 24 weeks, it’s considered a miscarriage.) After two MCs and an SB, I’m hoping for my rainbow baby.
Rainbow baby - A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, or infant loss. The metaphor is that just as rainbows follow storms, rainbow babies follow the stormy experience of loss. I’m praying I’ll get my rainbow baby soon.
Be prepared to learn new things about how your body works: this section is a doozy, just warning you.
L&D - Labor and Delivery. I’m in L&D right now, so please send prayers, ladies!
ROM - Rupture of membranes AKA your water breaking. How this feels is is interestingly described in this Babycenter article. This occurs during or right before labor, when the bag of fluid (or amniotic sac) surrounding your fetus breaks open. ROM was like someone put a hose on full blast between my legs.
Mucus Plug - This blocks the opening of the cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. It will be expelled before labor to clear the goo from your baby’s path. To me, the mucus plug looked like thick jelly-like water slightly tinged with blood.
Epidural - Often referred to as “epi” for short. A type of anaesthesia common in labor: they insert a catheter into your lower spinal area to numb (not block) the sensation of pain in the lower half of your body. I have a low pain tolerance, so I wanted an epi, but I wondered if I would be able to push while feeling numb. Thankfully, it turned out okay.
CS - Cesarean section: When they make a cervical incision in your abdomen and uterus to pull out your baby. I had a long talk today with my doctor about pros and cons of vaginal birth vs. a CS.
VBAC - Vaginal birth after Cesarean. There is a risk of the scar from the old surgery opening during labor, so VBACs should be researched and planned carefully. My midwife and my doctor have conflicting opinions about VBAC. I’m not sure what I should do!
Breech birth - When your baby’s bottom is down towards your vagina, instead of its head; doctors often recommend a CS in these cases. I literally did all of the suggested methods for turning a breech baby every single day from 34 weeks.
Episiotomy - When the doctor makes a surgical cut at the opening of the vagina during childbirth to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues. Advice I heard from others: take plenty of painkillers, get as much air as possible to your episiotomy, and keep it clean.
Crowning - When the top of your baby’s head is visible in your vagina. My husband fainted around the time the baby started crowning.
APGAR - This is a test doctors give your baby one minute and also five minutes after birth, to see if they’re doing okay outside the womb. It measures your baby’s health by looking at their Activity, Pulse, Grimace (do they make a face when you clear their airways), Appearance (healthy color) and Respiration (baby should be breathing well enough to cry). Oh yes, APGAR. Until I was pregnant, I didn’t realize that standardized testing started AT BIRTH!
SGA- Small for gestational age: A phrase used to describe a baby who is smaller than the usual size considering the number of weeks of pregnancy. When I was worried about SGA, I ate oatmeal, peanut butter and meat constantly and I had a milkshake every 2 -3 days.
SW - Starting weight (of your baby). The birth announcement email included name, gender, SW, the obligatory “exhausted mom, squishy baby” photo, and of course a few tasteless jokes provided by yours truly.
Words to know about newborns
One thing’s for certain: newborns don’t look like they do in the movies. If your baby looks a little different from what you expect, these words will help you understand why!
Milia - Tiny white or yellow bumps, like baby acne. Nothing to worry about, it goes away after a few weeks. I asked the nurse if milia was a sign my baby was going to have acne later in life, and she laughed and said, “No of course not.”
Cradle cap - Dry, flaky scalp often seen in infants: at the worst, like crusting white or yellow scales on a baby’s head. Harmless. I googled cradle cap and Web MD said to use baby shampoo and a soft toothbrush to scrub it off. So I asked for a toothbrush and my wife shouted, “Our daughter is too young to have teeth!”
Stork bite - AKA a salmon patch. This is a temporary birthmark. The medical term is a nevus simplex. My four year old son thought they were actual stork bites… So adorable!!!
Meconium - Your baby’s first poop: viscous like tar, a dark olive green, and almost odorless. My three-year-old daughter was fascinated by the meconium in the diaper. She asked how she could make HER poop change color (to green, blue, or pink). Oh my!
Fontanelle - Soft spots on your baby’s head where the skull bones aren’t yet connected. Skulls are made of several bones fused together, and at the time of birth the fusing hasn’t happened yet. Stroking the fontanelle and smelling the wispy baby hair, brought home to me how fragile my baby was.
Conehead - Being born may stretch your baby’s head into the shape of a cone. Don’t worry, it springs back to normal; your baby will not be a conehead for life. I explained to my husband about conehead, but he didn’t believe me and was freaking out until the doctor gave him a “scientific” explanation.
Mom’s post-childbirth health challenges
Pregnancy and labor put a huge amount of stress on your body. Don’t be surprised if you hear extensive discussion of people feeling less than their best.
Mastitis - An infection common to breastfeeding women featuring pain, warmth, redness, swelling, and feeling run-down. When I had mastitis, I drank three litres of water a day and soups too.
Perineal tear - After you give birth, the area between your vagina and anus will probably be torn or traumatized to some degree: 95% of first time moms experience some form of tearing. I used a cold pack to help bring down the swelling on my perineal tear, and also a hemorrhoid pillow to make sitting down a little bit easier.
PPD - Postpartum depression, thought to be experienced by at least 1 in 8 moms, is overwhelming sadness that lasts longer than two weeks after birth. I’m nervous about getting PPD because of my genetics. So, I’m decorating the nursery with little reminders of all the things which make me happy.
Pelvic bone problems - The left and right bones of your pelvic girdle are connected by a little strip of cartilage and ligament that can get broken during pregnancy/labor and take 3-8 months to heal. I was two weeks postpartum before my pelvic bone problems stopped hurting me–I hope yours go away soon!
Incontinence - Leaking a tiny bit of urine when you sneeze, cough, exercise etc. It can a result of stress/injury to your parts during childbirth. Due to the incontinence issues, I felt embarrassed about going to zumba at first, but my mom friend told me, PANTYLINERS.
Lochia - Also called vaginal discharge, this is a heavy discharge of blood you get right after childbirth (like a really intense period). It’s because when your placenta detached from your uterus, it left a lot of open blood vessels. My best friend and I were comparing experiences, and I’m pretty sure I had way more lochia than her. Medical articles are bad at admitting how much people vary.
Mom diaper - Because of the aforementioned lochia, the hospital will give you mesh panties and an enormous pad to staunch the flow of blood (quaintly referred to as a “mom diaper”). All my friends are arguing about that viral mom diaper photo on Facebook. Was it over the top, or was it a bold move to reduce stigma around frank discussion of pregnancy?
Hemorrhoids and constipation- You may have swollen veins around your anus or trouble pooping because of the pressures pregnancy/labor places on your body. Having a hemorrhoid cushion really helped.
Sitz bath - Immersing the private parts damaged by childbirth in warm water to speed up the healing process by boosting blood flow. At first I took my sitz bath in the bathtub, but cleaning the big tub constantly got to be too much of a hassle. So I bought a sitz basin to fit over the toilet, which was a bit faster to clean between uses.
PPA - Postpartum anxiety: An anxiety disorder following childbirth, in which your anxiety and fear for your child (or yourself) becomes compulsive and/or out of proportion with reality. Because of PPA, I had this irrational fear that if I left my daughter alone for a single second, something would happen to her and she would die.
Extensive acronyms for discussing the social, logistical, and/or biological challenge of nourishing your offspring.
BF - Breastfeeding. There’s all kinds of things they don’t tell you about BF. Like sometimes you have more milk in one breast than the other. Why?!
Colostrum - A thin white fluid that breasts start leaking during the last couple weeks of pregnancy. Thank goodness I was wearing a padded bra, because I did not expect that colostrum.
EBF - Exclusively breastfeeding. I would love to EBF, but my work schedule makes that pretty difficult.
EBM - Expressed breast milk: Breast milk that gets out of your breasts via some other method than a baby sucking (primarily hand-expressing or pumping). If I have extra EBM, I like to freeze it in case I need it later.
FF - Formula feeding. I was FF my daughter at an outdoor barbeque, when this random friend of my husband’s boss wanders up and starts mansplaining the health benefits of breastfeeding to me.
Let Down - The release of milk from the breast when nerves in your breasts are stimulated. What did let down feel like for me? Well, when my baby started sucking, I got this really weird almost ticklish pins-and-needles sensation, and milk started coming out of both of my breasts.
Milk Coming In- When your milk changes from colostrum to regular milk, and your breasts get fuller and larger (typically happens two to four days after the baby’s birth). When my milk didn’t come in after the third day, I started googling about what foods and drinks would increase my milk supply. But my midwife told me to calm down, it wasn’t time to worry yet!
Breast Crawl - When a baby is placed on their mom’s tummy directly following birth, they are able to crawl to her breast and find her nipple all on their own. This is referred to as the breast crawl. I loved the skin-to-skin contact with my baby during her breast crawl.
LAM - Lactational amennorhea method: infertility during breastfeeding; you don’t get periods or experience your normal cycle when lactating. Pregnancy is still possible however, so many doctors recommend using it in conjunction with other birth control methods. I’m trying to decide between BF and FF when I go back to work, and one benefit of BF is LAM.
NIP - Nursing in public. If you can eat Taco Bell in public, I should be able to NIP. NIP is way less disgusting.
EN - Extended nursing. I’m going to try EN with my second child, I’m curious to see what difference it makes.
MM - Mother’s milk. I was curious if formula and MM tasted different, so I took a tiny taste of each. Does that make me crazy?
BLW - Baby-led weaning: A method of introducing solid foods that leaves it up to your baby to decide what, when, and how much to eat.
She didn’t want to eat the banana, she wanted to reduce it to a pulpy mass on her high chair. Since we’re doing BLW, I didn’t stress. I told my husband, “Look how much fun she’s having exploring textures.”
MER - Milk ejection reflex: the reflex which causes the milk to come out, triggered by the baby’s nursing or the pump’s suction. You don’t need the highest suction setting of the pump to trigger MER, believe me!
Boppy - C-shaped pillow designed for infant feeding and support. After twenty minutes of searching, I finally found my Boppy where my dog had hidden it under the couch. Dear dog: please play with your own toys.
DA - Dairy allergy: When your kid’s immune system reacts to the protein in cow’s milk; could make feeding them with formula difficult. My baby keeps crying after a FF and I’m worried he has a DA.
GF - Gluten-free: Sometimes parents who are worried about celiac disease prefer a gluten free diet for their child. The Gluten Free Chef finally did a blog on GF baby food.
When baby gets sick
Here are a few of the most common ailments of babyhood. This is by no means a comprehensive list. We are focusing on common, rather than serious, diseases. Please consult with your medical practitioner for all direct advice; use this guide to educate yourself not to treat your child.
HFM - Hand foot and mouth disease: Symptoms include fever, mouth sores, and skin rash. I opened his mouth gently to check for sores, which might mean HFM.
GER - Gastroesophageal reflux: Acid from your baby’s stomach gets into their throat and hurts them, because the valve between throat and stomach isn’t fully developed yet.
My baby was kicking, thrashing, arching his back, and making these crazy-sounding gagging noises. It took me a long time to figure out it was just GER.
RSV - Respiratory syncytial virus: When a cold develops into bronchitis/pneumonia. (Be suspicious of colds that last longer than a week.) I turned the shower up as hot as it would go, and cuddled her in the bathroom so she could breathe the steam. It seemed to help the RSV, but I’m going to the doctor again tomorrow.
Roseola - Symptoms can be minor or serious like a high fever, congestion, and coughing. Later on, a patchy rash develops that starts on the chest and spreads. I emailed my doctor a picture of the rash right away to ask if it was roseola.
Gastroenteritis - A stomach ailment which includes vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It’s important to stay hydrated with frequent small drinks. With this gastroenteritis, I am doing two loads of laundry a day.
Thrush - A yeast infection that looks like cottage cheese or milk curds inside your baby’s mouth: most common in babies two months and younger. I know thrush isn’t serious, but I hate that my baby’s mouth hurts.
Glue ear - A buildup of fluid in the middle ear, also known as “otitis media with effusion” or OME. Other than checkups, ear infections are the most common reason for pediatrician visits, since the little tubes which ventilate baby’s inner ear are so small they get plugged up easily. I’ll be so happy when he gets over glue ear. He’s crying all the time.
Croup - A tight cough that sounds like a barking seal caused by a virus. It usually gets better on its own, but get worried if it starts to seriously interfere with breathing. The worst part about the croup is that none of the other children can get any sleep with the loud coughing.
Pinkeye - Also known as conjunctivitis: Symptoms include tearing up, redness, itching, and crusty eyelashes. I sure hope there’s no outbreak of pinkeye at MY daycare.
Fifth disease - Often called “slapped cheek” disease, fifth disease causes a bright red rash on a child’s face. I’m skipping baby’s walk today because I want him to rest while he has fifth disease.
Brace yourself for this one.
BM - bowel movement OR breastmilk: Isn’t it delightful we refer to them using the same term? Context is important with this one. I can always tell when my baby is having a BM because he grunts and makes a face. It’s like the advance warning system before the “lovely” smell starts wafting through the room.
AIO - All-in-one: This means you don’t need a separate cover over the cloth diaper. I bought a pack of AIO because I’m really absent-minded and the less things I have to remember to pack in my diaper bag, the better.
CD - Cloth diaper. My brother said CDs are gross and I told him, “Well, disposable diapers take 500 years to disintegrate in the landfill.”
Pee Pee Tee Pee - A cone of material to place over your male infant’s penis while changing his diaper, to prevent him from peeing straight up into your face. At first I thought Pee Pee Tee Pees were ridiculous, but now I’ve had an experience that has, shall we say… convinced me of the need.
Butt Paste - A product you rub on your baby’s bottom to prevent diaper rash. What a descriptive name, huh? I was going for coffee with my (childless) friend and we were halfway out the door when I screamed, “Wait! I forgot the butt paste!” and ran back.
Reflux - Another term for spit up, the normal vomiting habit for newborns. I tried to save my guest from the reflux, but I was too late. So I just smiled grimly and said, “Babies. They’re pretty cute, huh?”
Blowout - A diaper where the poop escapes into the shirt or pants. (By the way, just in case it’s helpful, here’s a complete guide to baby poop from BabyCenter.) I would never audition my baby for the movies. Knowing him, he’d be sure to have a blowout mid-audition.
Getting baby to snooze
So many theories.
Co-sleeping - having your baby sleep close by you; this could mean having your baby bassinet or crib right next to your bed, or it could mean bed-sharing. When I’m co-sleeping, sometimes I can manage to reach out and soothe my baby without waking myself up too much.
Bed-sharing - Sharing a bed with your baby. Sometimes a hotly debated parenting decision, because of worry about Sudden Infant Syndrome vs. the benefits of the having the infant nearby. After five years of bed-sharing with our cat, I think the cat is really jealous that we are bed-sharing with the baby instead.
CC - Controlled crying: A method of sleep training for infants. You put your baby to bed awake, leave the room, return if you hear crying, but leave again (for progressively longer periods until the baby falls asleep). My husband and I agreed on CC but my husband is such a softie I can see the anguish on his face when he leaves the room.
CIO - Cry it out: A method of sleep training for infants, where you let the baby cry for a set period of time before arriving to comfort it. Also known as the Ferber method or Ferberizing. We were trying to enjoy a bottle of wine in the living room and the baby kept CIO, which made things a lot less peaceful.
Nap training - Teaching a baby to nap consistently via use of consistent, schedules, routines, and other techniques. I finally found the perfect sleepytime song for nap training! The only problem is it puts ME to sleep. Whoops.
Self-soothing: Teaching your baby to soothe himself to sleep, by having a consistent schedule and bedtime routine (including a warm bath, a comforting story, dimmed lights, soft music, etc). My mother gave me Good Night Moonto help with self-soothing. It was the perfect gift.
STTN - Sleeping through the night; the Holy Grail of infant parenthood. My son is now STTN and I feel more pumped about this achievement than a Harvard admissions letter. Congratulations, son. You have made your parents proud.
Leaving the house just got complicated: what baby-transporting gear will you pick?
Harnessed seat - A car seat with a harness to snug your baby in tightly. (When the baby is younger you’ll want a rear-facing seat, but you can eventually switch to a front-facing seat.) I was struggling to unsnap the harness seat for over ten minutes and I was thinking “this is so ridiculous.” Then my wife said: “Look on the bright side: if you can’t undo it, then baby DEFINITELY can’t undo it.”
Bucket Seat - A car seat for infants only, designed to be rear facing for extra safety, that is shaped like a bucket to support the infant well. She falls asleep inside her bucket seat so easily, I love to see her so peaceful.
Convertible car seat - A car seat that can be converted from a rear-facing to a front-facing car seat as your child gets older. On the one hand, buying a convertible car seat saves me the money of upgrading when my baby gets older. On the other hand, you can’t easily lift them out and snap them into a stroller.
HBB - High-back booster: Something you can use when your baby has outgrown their harnessed seat. It will make them the right height to use a seat belt properly. I’m not moving my kid to HBB until he’s physically too large for his car seat.
Baby Wearing - Wearing or carrying a baby in a sling or other carrier. One thing I like about baby wearing is it’s practiced in cultures all over the world.
Ring sling - A type of baby sling where you can pull the fabric through a ring to adjust the fit. I use the extra material of my ring sling as a cover-up when nursing.
K’tan - A type of baby sling that doesn’t involve any wrapping or buckling: you just loop it around yourself in various different ways to hold baby in the desired position against your body. I was talking about my K’tan and my little brother thought I was talking about the board game Settlers of Catan. Great board game. But not as great as my baby sling.
Moby Wrap - Brand name for an elaborately wrapped fabric loop for carrying baby. It allows baby’s weight to be ergonomically distributed across your body. I like how my Moby frees up my arms during the day and takes the strain off my back.
Boba, Lillebaby, Ergo, Tula: Various baby carrier brand names: these ones are more like baby backpacks and frontpacks. I tried on a Boba, Lillebaby, Ergo, and Tula trying to see which one my baby liked the best. Mostly she just looked confused, but once she burped. So much for getting her opinion. Or should I interpret the burp as a sign of approval?
Structured carrier - The brands above are all examples of structured carriers; basically, the structure is sewn in instead of being something you create yourself via wrapping. One advantage to a structured carrier is you don’t have to take the time to carefully adjust it– you can just put it on and go.
Toddler Mini Board - A board that attaches to the back of your stroller, that your toddler can stand on. Many toddlers love it; it gives them the fun of standing without the work of walking. When he stands on the toddler mini board, he likes to say, “Zoom! Zoom!” because he thinks it makes the stroller go faster.
Stroller bunting - It’s like a mini sleeping bag that attaches to your stroller; it completely solves the problem of the baby kicking off their blanket while in the stroller. Winters are really bitter where I live in Minneapolis, so stroller bunting was the first thing I put on my registry.
Weather cover - A plastic tent-like creation you can affix over your stroller to protect your baby from rain, bugs, etc. I wasn’t about to let rain ruin our vacation, no matter what. So I purchased weather covers for both our strollers.
Soothing and entertaining baby
Learn what all that brightly colored nursery clutter is called.
Binky - Common pacifier brand name which you might use to refer to any pacifiers (like calling all tissues “Kleenex”). My LO has lost her fifth binky this week. Clearly, she takes after me. Curse you, genetics! At least she’s too young to be losing phones.
WubbaNub - Pacifiers with adorable tiny stuffed toys attached to them. I debated between the lamb WubbaNub and the elephant one for twenty minutes before hitting on my genius solution: buying them both.
Sophie - A very famous giraffe for babies, the star of many books and products, but primarily a popular teething toy. All my daughter’s friends have a Sophie, but she doesn’t have one. I’m trying to teach her to be a rebellious nonconformist, okay?!
Training toothbrush - A lovable rubber toy that teaches dental hygiene. He screams when I try to brush his teeth, so I bought a training toothbrush and now I’m trying to make it into a game.
Rock-a-stack - A stackable toy that teaches you about colors, shapes, and sizes. As soon as she learned how to take the rings off the Rock-a-Stack, she made up a new game which involved flinging them around the house. So creative.
Baby Einstein - a line of multimedia products and toys that specialize in interactive activities for infants and toddlers. Baby Einstein got in trouble for overdoing their claims that their toys make your baby smarter. I don’t care. My baby is far too smart already. Soon he will be outsmarting us, and then we’ll be in trouble.
Pounding bench - Because babies love to hammer things. The pegs on my baby’s pounding bench have cute peekaboo faces painted on them. So now she has a toy that smiles as she hits it viciously with a hammer?
Bead maze - Interactive toy that involves sliding beads along wires. Our dentist has a bead maze in the waiting room–and now my child is literally begging me to go to the dentist so she can play with the bead maze. What?!
Your quick tour through baby fashion.
Layette - A collection of clothing for a newborn child. I was color-coordinating my layette and my mother said, “Don’t worry too much about it. It all gets vomit colored eventually.” Thanks, mom.
Swaddle - A length of fabric you wrap baby snugly up in, restricting their movements (newborns find this comforting, probably because it reminds them of the womb). My daughter looked at her freshly swaddled newborn brother and said, “Why have you wrapped him up like a baby burrito?”
Sleep sack - A sleeping bag for babies. When my baby became wily enough to wiggle out of his swaddle, I changed to a sleep sack.
Onesie - A one piece garment for your baby, typically with snaps at the bottom to facilitate easy diaper changing. Since the term “onesie,” is trademarked by Gerber, they are often also referred to as one pieces or bodysuits. I collect cute onesies even more enthusiastically than my childhood self (okay, my adult self) collects Pokemon.
Baby singlets - Tiny baby sleeveless undershirts. My husband bought a baby singlet that said “Dad is my favorite parent.” I’m considering appropriate retaliation.
Romper - A one-piece combination of shorts and a shirt (now fashionable for women as well as babies!) Today my baby and I wore matching denim rompers. It was the ultimate in mother-daughter fashion coordination.
Wondersuits/growsuits - long-legged one piece garments that tend to zip up the front, often used for pajamas. I bought my baby a panda bear wondersuit and now my toddler is jealous.
Popular parenting philosophies
Please keep in mind: there are hundreds of parenting styles and philosophies. You could read for year! To spare you that ordeal, here’s the cliffsnotes on a few popular ones.
Attachment Parenting (or AP) - A child rearing philosophy that focuses especially on the parent-child connection. Skin-to-skin contact is great for AP. Plus, I love cuddling.
Slow Parenting (or SP) - Letting a child develop at their own pace instead of worrying about your child getting “ahead.” My mother-in-law keeps asking me how many new words my little one has learned. I told her I believed in the philosophy of “slow parenting,” and she replied, “Just because you are a slow parent, doesn’t mean he needs to be a slow child.” Thanks MIL.
Babywise Parenting (or BP) - When you establish a routine in your baby’s life from day one and stick to it no matter what. I set little alarms on my phone for nap time and snack time. It really helps with BP to stay totally consistent so your baby picks up the rhythm.
Concerted Cultivation - When you schedule your child’s life full of organized activities.
I think my friend believes in concerted cultivation because she signed her baby up for a music class when he was one-year old. I asked her how the class was going and she said, “He loves sounds!” Aww.
Natural Growth Parenting - The opposite of concerted cultivation; you give children unstructured time and let them create activities to occupy themselves. My mom was a natural growth parent. When they wanted to extend elementary school days, she wrote a letter to the editor saying, “Don’t do it. My kids need time to play in the creek and bake cookies.”
Positive parenting - Guiding your child down their path in “positive” ways, instead of by punishing them or ordering them around. When she refused to put on her shoes, I remembered my positive parenting and simply said in bewilderment, “But how will we run around the park without shoes?”
Free-range parenting - Giving children as much freedom as they can handle to encourage their independence. The first time my daughter walked to school by herself, she said, “I feel like an adventurer.” That was an awesome free-range parent moment.
Lighthouse parenting - You give unconditional love, but let your children fail in small ways. Like a lighthouse, you enable them to ride choppy waters without crashing against the rocks.
As a lighthouse parent, I believe in empowering children to make mistakes. So I let him eat his entire bucket of Halloween candy in one sitting. But it all backfired when he DIDN’T get a stomach ache. How? How is this possible?
Authoritative parenting - This idea is to be strict and disciplined without being rigid; you have strong rules, but explain the reasons for them. I’m an authoritative parent, and when my friends ask me why my child is so well-mannered I say, “The magic of the word no.”
RIE Parenting - “Resources for Infant Educarers,” parenting: a philosophy of giving your baby independence and respect, observing when they want to tackle things, rather than pushing them to do things. The most interesting thing about RIE parenting is trying to see the world through your child’s eyes.
Mocking names for parenting styles
When it comes to parenting styles, judgment is rife. Try to avoid the negativity.
Jellyfish - A permissive or over-indulging parent. Giving my child a second cookie does not make me a jellyfish!
Tiger - An authoritarian parent who takes over their child’s life. I told my son to do his homework and he said, “Okay, tiger mom.” He sure knows how to push my buttons.
Crunchy mama - Describes a mom with strong, occasionally inflexible environmentalist values. (Not always disparaging especially if the mother self-identifies this way). The best part about shopping at Rainbow Grocery is I run into other crunchy mamas.
Helicopter parent - A parent who is way too involved with every detail of their child’s lives. There’s no way to win. If you’re laid back, they call you neglectful. If you’re involved, you’re a helicopter parent. I’m beginning to think it’s a conspiracy to make me doubt myself no matter what I do.
With all these great terms to use, there are also a few terms that would be great to avoid! Here are a few words we think are vastly misleading.
Pregnancy Brain (also known as “momnesia”) - This implies that your IQ drops when you’re pregnant, which is inaccurate. According to studies, it’s not your IQ that that changes: it’s your priorities. Thank you, there’s nothing I love more than unsolicited advice from strangers! Did I just accidentally ram you with my shopping cart? Sorry, must be the pregnancy brain. ::bats eyelashes::
Mommy Brain – A sexist phrase implying women are dim and absent-minded after giving birth. (More on why we should ban “mommy brain.”) You accuse me of having mommy brain, but you don’t accuse my husband of having daddy brain. Think about that.
Mommy Wars – The idea that working moms and stay-at-home moms are at war with each other, judging each other’s choices. This war is largely the delusional creation of a hype-fueled media.
The idea that we need to one-up one another in the mommy wars is just ridiculous. It’s okay for parents to make different choices for their children.
Mompreneur - A mom who combines starting their own business with parenting. Some mothers who are entrepreneurs are proud to embrace this term, others find it problematic. The Forbes article called me a “mompreneur” like I was making charming tea cosies, not running an eight-million dollar business.
Some of the most popular acronyms in the parenting and pregnancy space are shorthand for referring to different people.
LO - Little one. My LO came running up to me in a panic and said, “Ma! I CANNOT SEE MY EYES!” His first existential discovery.
LG - Little guy. I help my LG clean his room every night. One rough day, I sunk down on the floor and muttered “I don’t have the juice for this tonight.” Guess what he did? He ran out and got me a cup of apple juice.
FTM - Full-time mom or first-time mom. As a FTM, I was very hard on myself and assumed I was doing everything wrong. Now I know that most moms go through the same crazy stuff, and the kids turn out fine.
DD - Dear daughter. At a checkup, the nurse asked DD to stand on one foot. SO… she goes over and stands on the nurse’s foot.
DS - Dear son. DS has a new hobby: running as fast as he can ahead of me, into traffic. Child harness recommendations?
DSD - Dear step daughter. DSD peered into my baby’s bassinet and announced, “My new little brother is one ugly critter!”
DSS - Dear step son. DSS was shooting a water gun at the baby’s crib and his defense was, “She was crying, so I thought she was thirsty. I was aiming for her mouth!”
DF - Dear fiance. DF thinks we should start TTC directly following the wedding, and I think we should wait a few years. I think our budget spreadsheet will be the tiebreaker vote.
DH - Dear husband, not designated hitter. This is childhood not major league baseball! My DH was convinced if we fed the baby non-organic food, baby would break out in hives and die, so I whispered to my child as I spooned it into her mouth, “Let this be our little secret.”
OH - Other half. I was making a ghost Halloween costume for my toddler (so simple, just use an old sheet) when my OH said, “I think we should dress him up as Yoda.” I said, “If you want to sew it, be my guest.”
SO - Significant other. My SO and I can’t wait to adopt our first child.
WAHM - Work at home mom. Fellow WAHMs: what are your strategies for keeping your kids from interrupting important phone calls?
WAHD - Work at home dad. I’m a WAHD and I just saw my toddler left a voicemail for one of my clients. What did he say?!
SAHM - Stay at home mom. It seems like when it comes to SAHMs, everyone has an opinion.
SAHD - Stay at home dad. As a SAHD, I get tired of people assuming my wife is the default parent.
WOHM - Work out of home mom. I’m a WOHM, and I make good money.
WM - Working mom. Best breastfeeding pump for WM–suggestions, anyone?
BWM - Breadwinning mom. As a BWM, I simply don’t have time to cook baby food from scratch.
DXP - Dear ex partner, for people who are still on good terms with their exes, or very sarcastic. DXP told my toddler that grown-ups were allowed to have ice cream for breakfast. Now she asks over and over, “How long until I’m a grown up?”
SIL - Sister-in-law. My SIL has been very helpful, she loves taking care of the LO and knows how to calm DH, too, when he gets really worried about something.
FIL - Father-in-law. My FIL is upset about my son having a pink bodysuit. How should I deal?
MIL - Mother-in-law. I have the perfect MIL. Our shared hobby is complaining about my DH.
Other common abbreviations
In case you run across them.
WFH or WAH - work from home or work at home. Every Friday I get a WAH day, which is good baby bonding time. I keep her lounger under my desk and tickle her with my toes sometimes.
OWT - Old wives’ tale AKA fictional or unreliable information. I hate the OWT that if you crave sweet things you’re having a girl, and if you crave salty things you’re having a boy.
FS - Food stamps. I wish FS paid for pre-prepared foods, would it really be such a big deal if I bought a sandwich with FS.
NBR - Not baby related. This is NBR, but have you SEEN the latest episode of Game of Thrones?!
BTDT - As in “Been there, done that;” this is the opposite of FTM (First Time Mom). I’ve BTDT and I am so over all these backseat parents. I have four kids and you have zero, okay?? Stop telling me what to do!
NAK - Nursing at keyboard. Sorry about all the typos, I am NAK right now.
General internet jargon
Even if you’re pretty internet-savvy, the occasional acronym can hit you by surprise.
ISO - In search of. ISO of…. THE ULTIMATE DIAPER PAIL!!! Recommendations?
OT - Off topic. Sorry this is so OT but any ideas for getting DH to change his share of diapers?
LMFAO - Laughing my f-ing ass off. DD asked when she would be allowed to cuss. Without thinking, I said “You can cuss when you get boobs.” Her whole face lit up and she said “YOU MEAN I GET TO HAVE BOOBS?” All I could do was start LMFAO.
BB - Internet bulletin board. Sometimes the BB can get a little dark and heavy. My Facebook mom’s group is much more light-hearted.
BRB - Be right back. My husband is having an animal cracker emergency. I will BRB when I’ve solved the case!
KWIM - Know what I mean. When your kids copy everything you do, it causes you to take a deep look at yourself and get introspective. KWIM?
NMS - Not my style. Those frilly lace baby dresses are going to get so dirty so fast. Plus, they’re just not NMS.
OP - Original poster. I don’t think the OP intended to start a flame war over this, so let’s just try and take a deep breath, hold hands, and sing.
Flame war - An Internet argument that gets out of hand. The moderators of our mommy Facebook group decided to ban the topics of vaccination, abortion, and circumcision, because they led to too many flame wars.
Just remember whether you EBF or FF, whether you’re a BP or an AP parent, whether you use CDS or disposables, your DS or DD will be okay. That’s the important thing.