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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baby fever, bebe, 👶 Baby emoji

Where does rainbow baby come from?

rainbow heart on blue background

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 in a story collected in Christie Brooks’s Our Heartbreaking Choices: Forty-Six Women Share Their Stories of Interrupting a Much-Wanted Pregnancy. The term spread online in internet forums for mothers, perhaps boosted by the de-stigmatization of miscarriages in popular culture. To that point, Crystal Falk and Kim Roman provided care and advice to families on the topic in their 2015 picture book, 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

"I looked up a lot of resources and articles and quotes to help me get through the grieving process. That’s when I discovered the term ‘rainbow babies.’ It’s just a great way to kind of say … I guess it says a lot in that phrase."
Cathy Matthews quoted by Erin Hill, People, April 25, 2016
The baby is worth it. I had a miscarriage a little over a year ago & I’m currently pregnant with my rainbow baby. I also have Hyperemesis Gravidarum. It’s been ROUGH so far. But I know it’ll be worth it in the end to hold my baby.
@lillkaaay, July 26, 2020
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 8, 2018
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Who uses rainbow baby?

Rainbow baby is an affectionate and loving term used by parents, especially mothers, in discussions of pregnancy 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. The term dates back to the 1970s.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of rainbow baby like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, 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.