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How to Name A Baby

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.

DSC04937
Hmmm – What IS my name?

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.

Don't wake me until you come up with  a better name.
Don’t wake me until you come up with a better name.

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.

Good luck!

How did you name your baby?

About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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14 comments

  1. We agonized over names the whole pregnancy. we knew we were having a boy so we both had our top picks, DH loved Grayson and i loved Harrison, we both loved Tavien but i thought it too unusual to actually use. after letting people know our top picks everyone had an opinion. “Grayson will be shortened to Gracie, and you can’t call a boy that” i was often told, so that was out. DH didn’t like Harrison, so that was out (which works because our sons best friends name is Harry.) We brainstormed and argued for weeks and found a name we love for a girl (via a tv show i was watching while pregnant) and thought of using it for a boy but decided (though it is traditionally a boys name, we wanted to keep it for a girl), and we had our middle names worked out (picked one each, for family members). We threw Elliot out there and both liked it, but not 100% decided (that it was also from the tv show we picked our girls name from was a negative, it would be odd to have 2 names from one show, but we might never have a girl anyway). Still, in labour we discussed names, not decided. but when he was born, after immediately deciding his nick name was monkey, i decided Elliot it was, and considering how shitty labour is, DH was happy to let me have the final word. so our Little guy is named Elliot Nicolai (after DH’s sister Nicola) Thorne (my pops middle name) and we love it. even if Elliot can be shortened to Ellie (and as my brotherand sister in law pointed out immediately, Smelliot, Belliot, Jelliot, Yelliot, you get the picture)

  2. Charlie Sedanayasa

    Oh god it took us 5 weeks. Painful.

  3. I love Grayson, it’s a great name. And Harrison.

    Whenever I think of avoiding names that could potentially be substitutes for something bad that it sounds like, I think of the time in primary school some kids decided to call me “whale” because it *sorta-kinda* sounds like “Rachel”. Way-el” “Ray-chel” Yeah, that’s close enough to use an insult…

    So, yeah, some kids will just make it work against you, regardless of your actual name.

  4. I love Grayson, it’s a great name. And Harrison.

    Whenever I think of avoiding names that could potentially be substitutes for something bad that it sounds like, I think of the time in primary school some kids decided to call me “whale” because it *sorta-kinda* sounds like “Rachel”. Way-el” “Ray-chel” Yeah, that’s close enough to use an insult…

    So, yeah, some kids will just make it work against you, regardless of your actual name.

  5. Cheree Wanderlust

    Rachel, this comes up every time I try to read something you link. Any tip on how to X out of it?

  6. We have always had our names picked prior to our children being born and thankfully they have suited them perfectly. My daughter (3rd child) didn’t have a middle name until an hour before she was born. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with baby #4 and we haven’t even started throwing around names yet. Better get our bums into gear because the baby will be here before we know it and I don’t want to have to rush into picking a name in case I don’t end up liking it.

    Great post! It really is such a big decision.

  7. We have always had our names picked prior to our children being born and thankfully they have suited them perfectly. My daughter (3rd child) didn’t have a middle name until an hour before she was born. I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with baby #4 and we haven’t even started throwing around names yet. Better get our bums into gear because the baby will be here before we know it and I don’t want to have to rush into picking a name in case I don’t end up liking it.

    Great post! It really is such a big decision.

  8. We agonised over names too, for five days after our daughter was born, until we had to submit the birth certificate. We had a short list but it didn’t help! I think the name we chose suits her pretty well, but I also think my back up would have worked too (mostly when I say her name a lot when she is in trouble and I get sick of the sound of it!). We went with Eloise.

  9. We agonised over names too, for five days after our daughter was born, until we had to submit the birth certificate. We had a short list but it didn’t help! I think the name we chose suits her pretty well, but I also think my back up would have worked too (mostly when I say her name a lot when she is in trouble and I get sick of the sound of it!). We went with Eloise.

  10. Its so hard choosing a name! We had a book with 75000 names in it! My hubby and I went through the book and wrote down a list each of the names we liked and compared it. Our of the over 100 names we each had for each gender we only managed to agree on about 4 of each. Then narrowed it to our top two – one boy and one girl. Lucky when she was born, the name we chose suited her so well 🙂 Her middle name I wasnt sold on but it was after my hubby’s grandmother, 7 months later I love it and wish we could use it for our next child if we had another girl 🙂

  11. Its so hard choosing a name! We had a book with 75000 names in it! My hubby and I went through the book and wrote down a list each of the names we liked and compared it. Our of the over 100 names we each had for each gender we only managed to agree on about 4 of each. Then narrowed it to our top two – one boy and one girl. Lucky when she was born, the name we chose suited her so well 🙂 Her middle name I wasnt sold on but it was after my hubby’s grandmother, 7 months later I love it and wish we could use it for our next child if we had another girl 🙂

  12. I agree, naming babies is a huge deal and can be stressful. Do love it though! I carried around lists with me, adding to them evrything I came across a new name. There were lots that my husband vetoed tho. Luckily, he doesn’t mind thinking outside the box and agreed to give our twins some very cute middle names. Our first two kids got family names for their middle names, so we went a bit alternative with our twins. Quite a few people questioned them when they arrived! But we knew what we were doing and the twins suit their names perfectly x
    I love Kiki!

  13. I agree, naming babies is a huge deal and can be stressful. Do love it though! I carried around lists with me, adding to them evrything I came across a new name. There were lots that my husband vetoed tho. Luckily, he doesn’t mind thinking outside the box and agreed to give our twins some very cute middle names. Our first two kids got family names for their middle names, so we went a bit alternative with our twins. Quite a few people questioned them when they arrived! But we knew what we were doing and the twins suit their names perfectly x
    I love Kiki!