Written by Pamela Redmond Satran for Nameberry
Ideally, choosing your baby’s name is a fun, inspired endeavor, but too often baby name problems get in the way. Here are the problems we hear most often, and how to fix them:
Your family interferes with your name choice:
Problem: Your mom wants you to name the baby after her. His dad wants you to name the baby after his mom. And everybody hates the name you’ve chosen...and isn’t shy about telling you so.
Solution: Name discussions with family can be an entertaining and illuminating way to pass your pregnancy, but the minute family members start to act like they have equal voting rights, it’s time to cut off the talks. Bowing to family name pressure is the Number 1 reason for name regret.
Your friend ruins the name you love:
Problem: It can seem to be more pleasure and less pressure to talk about baby names with friends, but if your friends trash the names you love, you can end up feeling terrible about your name choices and your friends.
Solution: Start off name discussions tentatively, reserving talk about the names you really hold dear. If the tone turns harsh, seek out online baby name discussions like the ones on our forums, where you may get advice that’s both better informed and more gentle and where your friendships are separate from your everyday life.
You’re a victim of name-napping:
Problem: When you’ve chosen a unique name and discover your neighbor or your cousin has grabbed it for their own, you may feel as betrayed as if they’d robbed your house.
Solution: The more original your name choice, the closer you should hold the information. But if the name you’re planning to use is a common one like Emma or Jack, you can’t really accuse someone else of name-napping.
You and your partner can’t agree on names:
Problem: You thought deciding on a name would be one of the most fun aspects of shared pregnancy, but instead every name discussion descends into a wide-ranging battle.
Solution: Rather than talking about names, talk about the reasons behind your choices. Names can symbolize deep feelings about family, ethnicity, gender identity, our childhoods. Exploring those feelings may lead to more agreement on names and a greater understanding of each other.
You have a name for one gender and not the other:
Problem: You have a first choice name plus a backup plus a backup for a backup if your baby is a boy, but cannot find a single girls’ name you like. Or vice versa.
Solution: Of course, this is a sure sign that your baby will be the gender for which you have no name! One approach: start with the qualities you want in a name rather than name-first. Here are strong girls’ names, for instance, and classic names for boys.
You keep changing your mind about names:
Solution: Changing your mind about names, especially after talking over your choices with your partner or in Nameberry’s forums, is part of the adventure. But you have a deadline and that’s the day -- okay, the week -- after your baby’s born. Even if you can’t settle on a name during your pregnancy, you can settle on a date by which you’ll settle on a name, and if you change your mind again after that, blame your own fickle nature and not the name itself.
You choose a name and discover it’s too popular:
Problem: Even though national and state popular baby names lists are freely available, many people think, Well, I’ve never met anyone named Josiah, so I don’t believe it’s popular where I live. But that’s probably because you haven’t been hanging out with many toddlers.
Solution: Check the official popularity lists (the new ones are due out next week!), and believe them.
You discover that no one can understand, pronounce, and/or spell your name:
Problem: If you vary the spelling of a name thinking it will help people pronounce it the way you want it pronounced, you may be dismayed to find it does just the opposite.
Solution: This is the prime argument for trying out your name ideas on family, friends, and in baby name forums before you settle on a choice. That way, at least if people have trouble with the name, you’ll be fully aware of it when you make your decision.
The name you love has an unwanted nickname:
Solution: You can control for nicknames, with effort, when your child is small (though if your family insists on using an unwanted nickname, and there have been tales of this on our forums, you may be fighting a losing battle). But once your child goes off to school, it may be difficult to keep other kids from calling your daughter Sue, especially if she likes the name Sue. Then again, this can happen with any name and there are so many nicknames you can’t anticipate. Our advice: Try your hardest, but ultimately let it go.
You regret your name choice:
Problem: The other nine problems often lead to baby name regrets. But sometimes, the reason for regretting a name choice may be that the name you picked just doesn’t feel right. What to do?
Solution: The sooner you act to correct the problem, the better, by either changing your baby’s name completely -- a pain, but worth it if you’re really unhappy with the name -- or using a nickname or middle name. Just be sure you have a new name picked out that you are happy about, because this is one switch you don’t want to make twice!