With the recent birth of the newest member of the royal family and the speculation on her name, made me think about how hard it can be to name a baby.
I’d always thought that one of the most beautiful things about bringing a tiny person into the world was naming them. I’m also assumed it was easy to name a baby. Since I was a teenager I had lists of names I wanted for my imagined children. I like names that can be shorted into casual and cute nicknames, but are still strong names on their own. Like Elisabeth, Isabelle, and Thomas.
I wasn’t prepared for naming our babies to really be stressful and exhausting. I forgot I’d be naming babies with someone else, someone who might have ideas of their own about how and what our children should be named. I’d imagined I’d provide a few options and he’d pick which of my extensive list of names he liked the most and done. Baby named.
But no, it took most of my pregnancy to even pencil in one name. Once we found a name we both liked, we clung to it. We announced our baby’s name was going to be “William” – Billy for short. Thank goodness, he was going to have a name. I was starting to get a little nervous he wasn’t going to have one.
Though during my pregnancy a friend who was very into crystals said I should get a Dalmation Jasper, as they’re supposedly offer protection for pregnancies, and seeing as it was a very pretty little stone, I bought one.
A couple of weeks later, we were in the car and my partner randomly said “What about the name Jasper?”
I agreed I liked it, but William had been so hard to settle on we decided to stick with our chosen name.
The day he was born we looked at him and realised – he was not a William. We spent the following couple of weeks alternating names. Jasper, Billy and Isaac were top of the list. For two weeks though we mostly just called him “Bubba”. It wasn’t until he was admitted into hospital after a sleep apnea episode and we had to fill out paperwork for his admission, that we had to firmly agree on a name. So in that moment he became “Jasper” – and the name could not be more perfect. Although he will always be “Bubba” to me.
With our second we had a short list of names we liked – Jett, Thomas, Saxon, Isabella, Matilda and Tallulah. Between that list we figured we should be covered, one of those names will “fit” our baby. And our daughter was born, and again we immediately didn’t want any of the names we’d chosen for her.
At first we thought we wanted to give her that matched her brother’s name – we listed all the stones that made great girls names: Ruby, Jade and Crystal.
It felt like every day we’d come up with a couple more names each – Harlow, Georgia, Madeleine and back to Isabelle.
Finally my partner suggested Kiki – and he was absolutely, immovably, convinced that was her name.
And I thought it was a terrible name. I flatly refused to put “Kiki” on our daughter’s birth certificate. No way. No how. No discussion. Not happening.
But he started calling her Kiki anyway, and it did have a very sweet ring to it.
So, I Googled “Kiki short for” and of all the names listed as a possibility, Caitlin with a K was the only name I found tolerable.
I didn’t love it.
I could live with it.
She was over a week old and she NEEDED a name. Any name was better than continuing to call her “the baby” forever. Also, it was the most bizarre thing taking her out to the shops and having people stop and gush over how adorable she was, then ask her name – and telling them she didn’t have one. That we weren’t even close to deciding on one.
It was like I’d said we hadn’t decided if we’re going feed her or not. People looked at me like we’d cruelly deprived our baby of a most basic need. And yes, she did need a name, but she was cared for, loved and thriving – just not named. Yet.
So after agonising over the spelling for a few more weeks (Just so you know there are SO MANY variations of “Caitlin”) we finally submitted her birth certificate with the name “Katelyn”.
And to this day, 3 years later, I’m still not 100% sure about her name, or the spelling, but it’s way too late to change it now!
So, here are my tips for naming a baby:
- Both write a list of names you like and compare the list, veto names you both dislike from each other’s lists and “short list” the names you’re both okay with.
- Think about naming baby after family members, write down names from your family, your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, (great)aunts and uncles. Include middle and maiden names. See if there are any names on those lists you like.
- Use variations of family names or names – for example my middle name “Louise” is after my grandma’s first name “Lois”.
- Look at names from your culture or language. A friend’s boy was given his father’s name in his mother’s language – which was just perfect.
- Think about nicknames that you like and use Google to find what they could be short for.
- If there’s certain letter you like write a list of names that start with that letter.
- Brainstorm with friends – ask them what name they would choose (provided they’re not going to be precious about you potentially using that name)
- Get a baby name book and write down a name you like from each page, then narrow them down to a shorter list.
- At your baby shower ask each guest to write down three names on a piece of paper and slip them into a box, for you to read through and think about afterwards.
- Both write down a name you like for each letter of the alphabet and then see if there’s any names you both like or agree on.
- Look at the list of the most popular names for the previous year – think about how does this affect your decision? For myself an ideal name is in the top 100 but not in the top 20. You might want to use a very popular name, or prefer a name that doesn’t appear on the list at all.
My final tip is – relax. Sometimes the more you think about it the harder it gets. You have 9 months of pregnancy and then 60 days after we’re born to register their birth. So you have plenty of time. If it’s getting to hard, put the conversation away for a few days or weeks and revisit the topic fresh.
How did you name your baby?