Basics: Online Communities – It Takes a Village

I’d be remiss if I don’t give major credit to the various online communities that have sprung up around parenthood. There is no way it is humanly possible for me to list every single message board on every topic here, but I can at least provide you a general overview of the major clearinghouses of information out there.  I’ll stick with U.S. based websites, although there are definitely major websites based in other English speaking countries.

Baby Center

BabyCenter has it all. Weekly pregnancy emails and later, emails about the development of your child. Message boards covering every topic imaginable. Blogs. Videos on parenting. Articles and expert advice.  An online birthing class. iPhone, iPad, and Android apps.

BabyCenter is a member of the Johnson and Johnson family of companies – so keep in mind that ultimately, their goal is to advertise J&J products.

Babycenter has a worldwide presence, including BabyCenter UK and BabyCenter India.

Other parenting compendiums have the same tools as BabyCenter, including theBump and the What To Expect boards.

The Bump is a spinoff of the popular wedding site In addition to pregnancy trackers, message boards, and advice, the company publishes a pocket-sized magazine featuring pregnancy-related content and local pregnancy &baby resources, distributed through OBGYN offices in 14 US markets.

The What to Expect site is a spinoff of Heidi Murkoff’s bestselling What to Expect series (starting with the well-known “What to Expect When Expecting”.) The book itself has garnered some negative reviews for being overly negative and covering worst-case scenarios, and for being written by someone with no medical training herself.  (A 2005 New York Times article branded it “The Book They Love to Hate”, stating one of the major issues is that previous editions get handed down from woman to woman, factual missteps and all).

Want more message boards? There’s Baby and Bump, the message board for the Momstastic website. Opinions from across the pond? Hop over to  Want a fresher, hipper look at parenting? Check out the aptly named iVillage Parenting Site/Forums, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal with a partnership with BlogHer. (more on BlogHer in another post) Want to only discuss holistic motherhood? is your best bet, you hippie. (I kid, I kid).

There’s also CafeMom,  which has some more liberal terms of use in their private groups than some of the other major sites, and is a profit-making (ad supported) company that uses parents as testers for various products – they then write posts reviewing the products, which are supplied by sponsors.

Finally, there is Circle of Moms, which is for moms only, and is connected to your Facebook account so there is an actual personal connection.

As for me? Personally, I love BabyCenter. When I’m nursing a sleeping baby and have nothing else to hold my attention, the information, catfighting, and photo threads provide me with everything I need. If it weren’t for BabyCenter, I wouldn’t know what terms such as Baby-Led Weaning, or MSPI, or AIOs, or stripping the membranes meant. (Whether I actually needed to know any of that is up for debate – but the origin of this site is the immense amount of random parenting trivia wasting space in my brain).  And, as much as I want this site to be a clearinghouse of information, for a direct competitor, head over to their specialized community boards – at the top of many of the forums will be a moderator’s note with a wealth of information and links on that particular topic.