Slang dictionary

rainbow baby

[reyn-boh bey-bee]

What does rainbow baby mean?

A rainbow baby is a baby that is born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of an infant.

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Where does rainbow baby come from?

rainbow baby

It’s common to compare the feelings of grief and anguish to a storm, and going through the pain of a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or other loss of a child is certainly that. But as we say, there’s a rainbow after the rain—and so a successful pregnancy after an unsuccessful one is called a rainbow baby.

The term emerges by 2008, used in a story collected in Christie Books’s Our Heartbreaking Choices. The term spread online in internet forums for mothers, and perhaps boosted by the de-stigmatization of miscarriages in popular culture. To that point, Crystal Falk and Kim Roman provided care and advice to parents on the topic in their 2015 A Rainbow Baby Story. Popular websites and magazines occasionally feature stories of celebrities, such as Beyoncé and Jay Z, who’ve had rainbow babies.

Examples of rainbow baby

A stunning photo of a “rainbow baby” is shining a light on a difficult topic for many parents.
Erin Hill, People, April, 2016
A year ago I found out I was pregnant with Jacobs baby and I ended up having a miscarriage. It tore me apart forever. We just found out where going to be having a rainbow baby and couldn’t be more blessed 😭💕
@addimarie13, June, 2018
We are so so happy to announce that on May 24th our little rainbow baby arrived. His name is Harry, both he and Tracy are doing great. It's been the perfect ending to 73in73! Thanks for all the support over the last year, it means the world to us <3 #rainbowbaby #73in73 #newborn
@73in73, June, 2018

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Who uses rainbow baby?

Rainbow baby is an affectionate and loving term, used by parents, especially mothers, and in discussions of pregancy or child loss. Parents like to photograph their newborn rainbow babies in rainbow colors. Keep in mind, though, that the topic, and therefore the term, can be very sensitive and personal.

A related term is a sunshine baby, a child born before a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.

An unrelated sense of rainbow baby is a baby of an interracial or same-sex couple, dating back to the 1970s.

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maskne, Stacy, grammar nazi, Shine Theory, What's your 20?


This is not meant to be a formal definition of rainbow baby like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of rainbow baby that will help our users expand their word mastery.