After Baby Monkey was born, we were blessed with extended visits from first my mother (from South Carolina) and then my sister-in-law (from Costa Rica). In addition to the love and help they showered on us, during my sister-in-law’s visit Monkey also benefited from being in an almost exclusively Spanish-speaking environment, as he was during our trip to Costa Rica last year.
After that trip, I compiled a list of the new Spanish vocabulary I learned once I had a toddler. My sister-in-law’s recent visit reminded me of the baby vocabulary I hadn’t needed to use for several years, so I thought it would be fun to compile a similar list of Spanish vocabulary for parents of babies.
Some words – such as “diapers” and “wipes” – can be found in my Spanish for Parents of Toddlers. As in that post, some of what follows is common in other Latin American countries, while others may be specific to Costa Rica.
Childbirth: Parto (PAR-toe) or Dar la luz (dar lah LOOS) – The second phrase literally means “to give light,” a very poetic way to put it.
Midwife: Partera (par-TEAR-ah) – This is obviously derived from “parto” above. I was lucky to be at a birthing center with wonderful parteras!
During the first months of a child’s life, you are consumed with his or her bodily functions – that non-stop cycle of eating, pooping, and spitting up. it helps to at least have new ways to talk about it!
Nurse/breastfeed: Tomar leche (toe-MAHR LAY-chay) or dar pecho (dahr PAY-choh) – The first phrase describes what the baby does (“drink milk” – can also apply to drinking formula or cow’s milk); the second describes what the mother does (“give the breast”).
Colic/gas: Cólico (COE-lee-coe) – In the US, colic is often used to describe a specific condition of a baby that chronically cries for no apparent reason (often because of stomach upset). Here it is also used more generally to describe a baby that has gas.
Vomit/spit-up: Vomitar (voe-mee-TAHR) or botar leche (bow-TAHR LAY-chay) – “Vomitar” is used for both “vomit” and “spit up.” (By this I mean the more serious throwing up of um, “processed” milk vs. when they seem to leak milk that they just drank). “Botar leche” (literally “to throw out milk”) seems to be exclusively about spit-up.
Poop: Caca (CAH-cah) or cuita (cah-WHEE-tah) – The first one I am pretty sure most of you already know “Cuita” is more properly used to describe bird poop but is often used for babies. You can also describe a baby that has pooped as being “cuitado/a.” Another term is “cagado/a” from “cagar” (to poop).
Pee: Orinas (or-EEN-ahs) – As above, you can talked about a baby with a wet diaper as being “orinado/a.”
Diaper rash: Estar quemado/a (eh-STAR kay-MAH-doe/dah) – Literally, “to be burned.” Pretty accurate description of how it looks!
To grow: Estirarse (ehs-tear-ARE-say) – Literally, “to stretch.” I never could figure out an equivalent of our “growth spurt,” but after one happens everyone observes how much the child has “stretched.” This applies to older children as well.
To cut teeth: Echar dientes (ay-CHAR dee-YEN-tes) – Literally, “to throw out/push out teeth.” Poor Baby Monkey is already working on three of these!
Additional terms can be found in our Spanish for Parents of Toddlers list.
Crib: Cuna (COO-nah) – Is there any more precious image than a little baby asleep in her cuna?
Baby carrier: Canguro (cahn-GOO-roe) – The “kangaroo” – perfect, no? For some great recommendations, you can read this post on favorite baby carriers.
Bib: Babero (bah-BEAR-oh) – The baberos are designed to catch all the cute baby babas, or drool.
Bottle: Chupón (chew-PON) – I was constantly getting this mixed up with…
Pacifier: Chupeta (chew-PET-ah) …which led to some funny conversations!
Cloth diapers: Mantilla (mahn-TEE-yah) – If you are interested in cloth, read about our cloth diapering experience.
Kisses: Besos (BESS-ohs) – In baby talk, this often comes our more like “bechito” as in “Dame otro bechito zhico, mi amosh prechocho!” (“Give me another yummy kiss, my precious love!”)
To spoil: Chinear (chee-nee-ARE) – A great word to use with babies!
To hold: Alzar (all-SAR) – This literally means “to lift” but is used more frequently than “to hold.” Whenever we have visitors, there is always a scuffle over who gets to alzar Baby Monkey.
Pet names: Amor precioso, chiquito lindo, gordo, papito, mamita…. As in any language, there is no end to the list of pet names for children. My current favorite, though, is “enano,” which means “midget.”
What new vocabulary did you learn when you became a parent?
This post has been shared at Toddling in the Fast Lane’s Say It Two Ways Thursday.