Words To Know When You’re About To Be A Parent

We have to confess, though words are kind of our “thing,” the truth is when it comes to parenthood, there are few adequate words to describe it.

Whether your journey to parenthood involves intense labor or signing adoption papers, becoming a parent feels like the Earth shifts in its entirety.

In addition to your heart growing a few sizes, your vocabulary is about to extend too. Words like exhaustion will take on a new meaning, and all joking aside, you’re also going to need to learn a few words you may have never come across before.

Don’t fret—as is our way, we’ve rounded up some basics so you can at least sound like you know what you’re doing, and we promise you’ll get the hang of parenting (and the lingo) before you know it.

Veteran parents know that the word swaddle is synonymous with sanity, and one of your most important tasks as a new parent is to master it.

Swaddle means “to bind,” especially a newborn, to restrict their movements. Swaddling in this context is a verb, though a swaddle can also refer to the cloth used to wrap a baby. For instance: The new dad was at a loss as to how to swaddle his newborn son vs. A swaddle is the best thing you can receive at a baby shower.

Swaddling is so important because it recreates the environment your baby was in for nine months, and oftentimes comforts them if they are feeling fussy or can’t sleep. It truly is an art you perfect over time, so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or doula for tips.

Just like pregnancy, postpartum (“of or noting the period of time following childbirth; after delivery“) life will bring a bevy of change to a new mother’s body.

Just as they’re getting into a feeding groove, breastfeeding moms can be susceptible to mastitis, which simply put is “the inflammation of breast tissue.” It occurs when moms are either experiencing a blocked milk duct or have a bacterial infection. Here’s how it’s used: Women with mastitis experience fever, chills and breast tenderness, and struggle with feedings and producing milk. Yikes.

To lessen chances of contracting it, mothers are advised to fully pump breasts or allow baby to fully drain a breast before switching to the next one.

We’re absolutely sure you’ve heard and used the word milestone in your pre-baby life, but now the word will take on a whole new joyous meaning.

A milestone is a noun that refers to “a significant stage in the life, progress, or development of a person or even a nation, etc.” For example: Getting her first book deal was a milestone in the author’s career that would change her life forever.

As a parent, you are going to be constantly looking out for (and absolutely gushing over) milestones your baby accomplishes. Events like rolling over for the first time, a first word, or eating solid foods are all milestones worth celebrating.

However, it is deeply important to know that each child is different, and milestones can occur at different times for different children. If you’re ever concerned, don’t hesitate to bring it up to your pediatrician (aka your new best friend).

For most couples, preparing for a baby involves readying the nursery, installing the car seat, and learning everything about labor and delivery. But when new parents are so concerned with getting the baby here, they forget to think about what comes next, so details like meconium can shock them.

Meconium refers to “the first fecal excretion a newborn has that contains a mixture of bile, mucus, and epithelial cells.” There are two reasons to be aware of it.

For one, if the meconium is released in your uterus, before delivery, it can cause complications. Secondly, it is a jarring consistency and color to see—enough to give newborn parents a slight heart attack when they see the tar-like matter in a little diaper.

When your baby arrives, you’ll be convinced there’s nothing more beautiful to have ever graced the Earth. And for the most part you’re right; babies are a miracle in and of themselves.

But let’s get real, babies are also pretty freaking gross. They spit up, have explosive poops, and are typically layered in a thin coating of snot. They can also experience things like cradle cap, which honestly looks a lot worse than it is.

Cradle cap is “an inflammation of the scalp in newborns that results in greasy, yellowish scales.” It’s fairly harmless—just a little unsightly—but it can look particularly awful to new parents who haven’t seen it before. Don’t worry if you see it, but do talk to your pediatrician about the best way to treat it.

When we talk about weaning babies, we specifically mean the action of the getting used to nourishment other than mother’s milk or formula.

Weaning overall means “to slowly move away from something one is used to in a way that causes as little physical discomfort as possible.” The same principles apply to babies as you start introducing them to solids. For instance: Weaning her off breast milk was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

It can also be pretty emotional for parents too, as it is a bonding experience for both when feeding a child by either bottle or breast. Often people rely on baby-led weaning, as parents look for cues that baby is ready to start solids and actively refuses milk.

Admittedly this isn’t a “real” word, but it is a very real concept.

Stemming from “The Ferber Method,” Ferberising is “the implementation of a sleep training method developed by Richard Ferber, a pediatrician and the director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital Boston.”

Ferber’s method is a controversial one, and there are many adaptive takes on it. Ultimately it boils down to letting a child “cry it out” in order to get them to fall asleep on their own. For example: After two weeks of Ferberising our son, he is now a pro at sleeping. 

The truth is, new parents will never be fully prepared for the amount of sleep they could be deprived of, but knowing this method and how to implement it could be a game changer for them.

There are countless babies who spend their earliest days riddled with colic. Colic occurs when newborns have discomfort in their abdomens, typically caused by gas. Colic can be relieved with gentle massaging and by holding newborns a certain way.

Truthfully, colic can also be maddening for parents because with it comes a very, very fussy child. Colic can last for weeks or months, but in truth, it is a fairly nebulous term. Colic labels can also be thrust upon children who have no gas or stomach pain but do seem to cry a lot. Having a child “diagnosed” with colic isn’t the end of the world. The nights are long and full of switching off, but this situation is only temporary. We promise if it happens with your baby, you will survive it.

However, if you strongly feel that something else seems a bit off with your baby, don’t hesitate to get second opinions and visit specialists. After all, you’re a parent, and there is something to be said for trusting your instincts.

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Word of the Day

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Can you guess the definition?

Word of the day

[ foo-zuhl ]