Rainbow babies are the term for the little blessings born to parents after experiencing the loss of a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or other infant loss. These special children are known as "rainbow babies" because they're like beautiful rainbows appearing after a storm. Parents and families think of them as the bright light that heals and gives hope to parents everywhere who've suffered the death of a child.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What is a Rainbow Baby?
- How to Remember a Loss and Celebrate a Rainbow Baby
- Tips for Announcing Your Rainbow Baby
If you've experienced this type of loss, then most likely you’ve experienced feeling joy, love, and grief all at once. The grief experienced for the child who's died and the joy and love for the child born after. Rainbow babies bring renewed hope, comfort, and healing after loss. The baby who has passed is often referred to as an angel baby.
These little angels hold a special place within a family's heart. Below are some ways to welcome a rainbow baby into the world while remembering and honoring the angel baby that came before.
What is a Rainbow Baby?
A rainbow baby is a healthy baby born after stillbirth, miscarriage, or the death of a baby due to other natural causes. Rainbow babies typically instill hope in bereaved parents mourning the death of a child.
The name “rainbow baby” stems from the idea that a rainbow illuminates the sky after the darkness of a storm passes by. A rainbow baby can also refer to an adopted child after a couple has trouble conceiving naturally. Rainbow babies usher in light and love after a dark and turbulent time.
Although having a healthy child born after the death of another instills hope, it's also a time of complex emotional reactions for the parents who've lost a child right before the birth of their rainbow baby. Many parents experience an emotional rollercoaster of suffering the loss of a child while also feeling joy and happiness at the birth of their healthy baby.
How to Remember a Loss and Celebrate a Rainbow Baby
Giving birth to a rainbow baby may introduce a shift in a parent's perspective on their grief. Rainbow parents may choose to remember the loss of their child while celebrating the birth of their rainbow baby by honoring both events in lasting and meaningful ways. Here are a few ways to consider.
1. Rainbow baby quotes
Losing a baby is one of the hardest things for a parent to endure. It affects both men and women equally yet differently. The loss leaves you devastated beyond words as nothing can compare to losing a child. When an expectant parent loses their child at or before birth, all hopes and dreams for a growing family instantly vanish at that moment.
Parents may begin to question why this has happened to them, and they may begin to lose their faith and hope of ever welcoming a healthy baby into the world. Because there are no words that can erase the tremendous pain felt for this type of loss, you can perhaps rely on the words and experiences of others to help you or your loved one through this time. The beautiful quotes below can help ease your pain and give new baby wishes to expectant parents.
- The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow. - Unknown
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – Corinthians 13: 7-8
- When we lose one blessing, another is most often unexpectedly given in its place. – C.S. Lewis
- The pain you have been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming. – Romans 8:18
- Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever. – The Prophet
- Babies smile in their sleep because they’re listening to the whispering of angels. - Unknown
- I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. - Isaiah 46:4
- May you always know my little one you were wished for, longed for, prayed for, and wanted. I love you. - Unknown
If you're looking fo more, read our guide on baby quotes.
2. Remembrance box
If you’re like most expectant parents, then you most likely prepared for your baby’s birth by purchasing things for your baby and the nursery. Another heartwrenching part of losing your baby is having to figure out what to do with everything you purchased in anticipation of bringing your baby home.
A remembrance box makes a beautiful gift for yourself, your spouse, or your loved one who has lost a child. It will help hold some of the most cherished baby keepsakes for you to always remember your baby.
You can use it to store ultrasound images of your baby, any photos that you might have arranged for at the hospital or funeral home, a special onesie, or a special gift you planned on giving your baby. Other things you can place within your memory box include:
- Parent journal
- Baby hat and swaddle cloth
- Hand or footprint in clay or paper
- Hair collection bottle
- Baby’s first/last photo
3. Baby shower
A baby shower for your newly expected rainbow baby can be both a time for celebration and worry. It’s natural to feel anxiety about the baby’s upcoming birth after having suffered the loss of your angel baby. You may be hesitant to celebrate the upcoming birth because you’re still grieving your loss.
It is also normal to feel emotionally ready to face questions about the death of your angel baby or to accept words of sympathy for a miscarriage that you might’ve suffered. Baby showers are traditionally hosted in the third trimester of the pregnancy. Following this tradition of waiting until closer to your due date will give you the best hope that the baby will get to come home with you.
4. Remembrance print
A remembrance print is a piece of artwork you can hang on your wall that is symbolic of your lost child and their place within the family. These types of prints usually use symbolism in place of actual persons.
For example, it can depict a family of birds perched on a tree limb with one flying into the heavens, or perhaps a dove circling a flower garden down below. You can be creative in choosing the symbolism that best represents your loss so that the print has special meaning only to you and your family.
5. Gift for mom and baby
Giving a rainbow gift for mom and baby honors the loss that came before while celebrating the life of the newborn. These gifts typically have the symbol of a rainbow etched or printed on them.
Some examples of gifts for rainbow babies are onesies and swaddle blankets printed with colorful rainbows, a framed print of a rainbow to hang in the nursery, and other rainbow-themed items such as ceramic savings banks, wallpaper, and mobiles.
6. Photo session
Booking a newborn photo session to commemorate the birth of your rainbow baby is a way to preserve the memory of that special day they were born. There are photographers you can pre-book that are ready to meet you at the hospital to chronicle the entire event from the birthing process to the time you welcome your new baby into the world.
Let the photographer know ahead of time that you are welcoming in a rainbow baby so that they are prepared with appropriate photo props.
7. Comfort box
The gift of a comfort box is always appreciated by new parents. These boxes can be filled with special gifts to honor the birth of their rainbow baby while providing your bereaved loved one with a little respite while they go through the healing process. Items you can include in your personalized box include:
- Delicately scented candle
- Sweet bracelet with both children’s names engraved
- Eye masks for the new parents
- A gift card to a local restaurant that delivers
8. Necklace with birthstone
When you lose a child, you want to hang on to every precious memory for as long as possible. A simple birthstone necklace that includes the birthstone of birth children is a loving gesture you can wear on some days and put away on others. There are special necklaces available that hold a small urn for ashes as well as name bars with birthstones. A popular design includes an infinity symbol with small birthstones and the names of the children engraved on each turn.
9. Book about loss
Books on grief, hope, and love always make perfect gifts for someone who is grieving. It can sometimes be confusing trying to make sense of the grief most parents feel when they lose a child coupled with the joy and happiness of welcoming their newborn. It helps to have a book on hand that they can turn whenever they need extra support.
10. Pocket angel
These small wooden angels fit comfortably into a pocket, purse, or backpack. They are sweet reminders of the angel baby lost before the birth of the newest addition.
These pocket angels are symbolic of the baby who died and can comfort the bereaved parents and siblings whenever they are especially missing the baby.
11. Gift for dad
Dads are often overlooked when you think of the sadness and heartbreak that follows the loss of an expected child. There’s usually a lot of focus on the bereaved mother but not so much on the father. Yet men tend to suffer as well and silently grieve in their own way. There are special gifts made especially with dad in mind to help ease his pain and suffering.
- Double-sided memorial keychain - one side engraved for each of the children
- Bereavement memory plaque - to keep on his dresser, garage, or desk
- Personalized leather bracelet - with the names of his angel baby and rainbow baby
- Wind chimes - engraved with a special grief quote to help ease his pain
- “I carry you with me” ring - personally engraved with names and dates
- Angel baby necklace set - one for him and one for him to share with his spouse or partner
- Daddy of an angel sonogram keychain - with a small rainbow inscribed beneath to honor the birth of his child
- Morse code “See You In Heaven” bracelet - a subtle reminder of his loss
- Weekend grief retreat for men so he can bond with other men suffering a similar loss
Tips for Announcing Your Rainbow Baby
Announcing the miracle birth of your baby is both a joyous occasion and one that may be fraught with anxiety. Many new parents of a rainbow child are reluctant to make the announcement out of fear of losing the child, almost afraid of jinxing their good fortune. Others may feel guilt over their angel baby's death while feeling joy for the birth of their rainbow baby.
Making the decision on when and how to announce your rainbow baby's birth is highly personal. The following tips may help you with putting together an announcement that honors both occasions.
Consider waiting a few weeks
Many expectant parents of a rainbow baby decide to postpone making the official announcement of the pregnancy until a few weeks have passed. Some may decide to wait until after the first trimester, which is the most uncertain period of a pregnancy, to make the announcement. Waiting for this 12-week mark to pass is common because the risk of miscarriage falls steeply after this time.
Enjoy the moment
Being pregnant with your rainbow baby is a joyous and momentous occasion that deserves celebration. There's never a guarantee for the birth of a healthy child, but having a positive outlook instills hope that your dreams of becoming a parent or having another child will come true.
When creating an announcement to share the news with your friends and loved ones, you don't need to bring up any reminders of your previous miscarriage or child loss unless you want to. That said, there are many beautiful ways of welcoming your new baby while still honoring your angel baby in the same announcement.
Start at home
Sharing the news of your pregnancy with your spouse or partner is one of the most beautiful and sacred moments the two of you will share up to the birth of your rainbow baby. Recognize this as a pivotal moment in your relationship after the announcement.
Expect that the two of you will have many different emotions running through you, from joy and excitement to anxiety and profound sorrow. A new pregnancy doesn't erase the pain and sadness of losing your angel baby, but it does bring a different level of joy and happiness with the anticipation of the birth of your rainbow baby.
Welcoming a Newborn While Honoring Your Loss
Losing a child is a heart-wrenching experience for almost any parent who expected to welcome a newborn into their life. The pain of loss, grief, and heartbreak can be almost too unbearable to cope with. The expectation of a rainbow baby following a loss does not conclude the mourning process for the baby that was lost.
However, it does renew hope that the newborn will restore joy and peace to a family who’s still grieving the death of an expected child.