Mum to Mom Translator

It’s common knowledge that there are quite a lot of differences between the American and British English vocabularies. I still learn new ones all the time. There are plenty of books offering “translations” between the two, but I have actually discovered a whole set of different terms directly related to babies, children, and pregnancy, so I am developing a Mum to Mom Translator:


Nappy = diaper (so also nappy bin = diaper pail; nappy cream, nappy bag, etc.) Derives from “napkin”

Buggy/pram/pushchair = stroller

Kicking off = (baby) starting to fuss

Strop = tantrum

Whinging = complaining in an irritating and persistent way

Dummy = pacifier

Teat = bottle nipple

Cot = crib

Carrycot = travel crib, or the large Moses basket-style part of the buggy for babies up to 6 months

Go to the loo/go to the toilet = go potty

Wee/poo = pee/poop

Poppet; sausage; pickle = apparently these are appropriate terms of endearment for adults to call children (like sweetie; honey)

Wind/winding = gas/burping

Muslin = burp cloth

Cuddle = hug

Beaker = drinking cup

Milk teeth = baby teeth

Father Christmas = Santa Claus

Crèche = daycare/drop-in childcare


Disco = dance party

Hokey Cokey = Hokey Pokey

Noughts and crosses = tic-tac-toe (x’s and o’s)

Soft play = area for little ones to play in that’s all foam-filled objects, maybe with a slide and a ball pit

Roly-poly = somersault

Twit twoo = what an owl says, rather than hoo/hoot

Cockerel = rooster

Telly = TV

Pocket money = allowance

Fancy dress party = costume party


(Sticking) plaster = Band-Aid

Jab = shot (injection)

Poorly = sick (as in, “Rachel wasn’t at school today because she was poorly”—E has actually said this, and it makes it sound like poor Rachel has been suffering from smallpox or something)


Nursery = preschool

Public school = private school

State school = public school

Full stop = period

Rubber = eraser

Sellotape = scotch tape

Rubbish bin = trash can

Zed = how you pronounce the letter Z

Minibeasts = insects/invertebrates

Maths = yep, they put an s on it

Rucksack = backpack



Tank top = vest

Vest = onesie (for babies), tank top (for older kids/adults)

Nought to three = zero to three months (clothing size)

Baby grow = sleeper/sleepsuit

Gro bag = sleeping bag for infants, which come in different weight/thickness called tog, e.g., 1.0 tog for a lightweight one for summer or 2.5 tog for a heavier one for winter

Pants = underwear

Jumper = sweater

Trousers = pants (For some reason, it is really hard for both M and me to remember to say trousers instead of pants. You don’t want to make the mistake of telling someone you don’t know very well that your pants are wet. We have so thoroughly confused E with our inconsistency on this that now she says things like “underwear panties.”)

Tracksuit bottoms or joggers = sweatpants

Trainers = tennis shoes

Swimming costume = swimsuit

Fancy dress = costume

Kit = appropriate clothing/equipment for an activity, e.g., P.E. kit, tennis kit

Rip-tape = Velcro


Antenatal = prenatal

Postnatal = postpartum

Rugby hold = football hold (breastfeeding position)

Waters have gone = water broke

NCT = National Childbirth Trust. This organization does lots of things to provide support for new parents, but you primarily hear people referencing their “NCT friends” or “NCT group,” which is the group of women they did antenatal/birthing/get-ready-for-baby classes with, and then continued to get together with once the babies were born for “coffee mornings” and various baby classes you can do when you have the luxury of a whole year of maternity leave.

Expressing = pumping

Midwife = a nurse who specializes in delivering babies and providing ante- and postnatal care

Health visitor = the person who takes over the baby’s and mother’s general well-being after the initial midwife visits

Mummy Matters

Mothering Sunday = Mother’s Day (late March instead of early May)

In the diary = on the calendar

Have a lie in = sleep in (as in, “It’s been literally years since I had a proper lie-in”)

Bubbles/fizz = Prosecco, the London ladies’ drink of choice

Yummy mummy = hot mom

Fit dad = hot dad

Slummy mummy = my new favorite phrase, used proudly by mums who aren’t ashamed to admit they give their kids fish fingers for tea while they pop open a bottle of pinot grigio

Kid Food

Tea = the kids’ dinner, usually served early, about 5. As in, “What are you giving the kids for tea?” I’m sure this derives from the custom of “high tea,” but it really confused me to begin with, as it doesn’t include actual tea for the kids to drink.

Pudding = dessert (“Will you have treacle tart or Eton mess for pudding?”)

Biscuit = crisp cookie, such as a McVitie’s Digestive or Walkers shortbread

Chips = French fries

Crisps = chips

Fish or chicken goujons = Fish sticks or chicken tenders

Macaroni cheese = what you’d expect, but for some reason they ditched the “and”

Sweeties/sweets = candy

Toad in the hole = sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter

Spag bol = spaghetti Bolognese, or pasta with meat sauce

Jelly = Jell-O

Sausage roll = A big pig in a blanket–a sausage rolled in puff pastry

Ice lolly/choc ice = popsicle/ice cream bar

Pick’n’mix = self-serve bulk candy you put into a bag and then pay by weight, a popular snack at the cinema

Babyccino = a gateway drug designed to ensure the next generation continues to spend loads of money on fancy espresso drinks (essentially foamed warm milk with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top served in a plastic cup; all the coffee shops around here have these on the menu)

Squash = a sweet artificial fruit juice concentrate, which you dilute with water (similar to Kool-Aid, I suppose). Knowing this is essential for understanding this headline. The more you know…



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