For when agreeing on baby names is trickier than you think.
Having a child is one of the most magical times of your life, if not the most magical. But just when you thought it would be easy and fun picking out baby names for your bundle of joy, somehow it’s turned into a headache. Maybe the pressure of naming someone is weighing too heavy on your mind? Or worse, your partner hates all the ones that you love or vice versa! So what do you do if you’re struggling, or find yourself in a stalemate situation? We’ve pulled together eight tips that’ll hopefully make the process a little easier.
Make A Baby Names “Yes” And “No” List
This is a great starting point for parents-to-be. Use a baby book or baby name app (like Baby Names where you can search over 30,000 options) to help get you started. It’ll also show where both of you are at in terms of ideas.
Once you have your lists, cross-reference with each other to see if there are any matches to help create a shortlist. You can rely on good old pen and paper for this but there is an awesome app dubbed “the Tinder of baby names” which can also do the same thing digitally. The simply-called Babyname can be downloaded on iOS and Android and allows both you and your partner to make your own log of what you like. You can then see each other’s ideas and swipe right if you like and left if you don’t! You’ll be left with a combination of approved names (along with their meanings) to help you narrow down the options.
However, you might have some on your “no” list that shows up on your partner’s “yes” list (or the other way round). This is where things can get tricky and so leads us on to the next point…
Give Reasons For And Against
When creating your lists, it’s helpful to add reasons as to why you like the name. Perhaps it’s in a song that reminds you of your significant other (or when you first met), maybe it’s a family name, or perhaps you yourself would like to have been called it. The tricky part comes when you find something you love on your other half’s no list, and it can be hard not to have an immediate emotional response (angry, sad, frustrated…or all three and then some!).
Firstly, try your best to not immediately overreact, and secondly, hear out their reasons. Perhaps at this stage, you’ll agree with them to remove it as an option, or you can show them the reasons why you love the name and they might change their mind? But one useful tip is to veto all ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend names. Even if you’re totally ok with naming your daughter after an old fling of your partner, it doesn’t mean he’s ok with it and vice versa (it might also cause tension further down the line).
Popular Vs Unusual Names
There is no right or wrong answer here but there are some things to consider, like:
- Will the name grow with the child?
- Is it cute when they’re babies/toddlers but still professional or mature for their later years?
- Could he or she be president or prime minister with that name? (If you think they may want to explore that avenue!)
Even before Gwyneth and Chris had Apple, or Kim and Kanye had North West, some parents choose to opt for a name that is a little more unusual. Unique baby names are a great way to show individuality and character, just consider how they might age (or date your child to the most popular TV show or celebrity at the time). Also, will people be able to pronounce or spell the name correctly as the child grows, or will that be an ongoing issue and frustration for them in years to come?
If you or your other half would rather go for a name that is always on the “most popular” list, consider this: if they are that popular, chances are they will stand the test of time. The downside is you might find 10 others with the same name in your playgroup, nursery or school class. So weigh up if you’re ok with your child being referred to by both his first and last name (or initials) or a nickname to differentiate them.
Try Not To Get Too Emotional
It can be hard to have a name you’ve envisioned for so long kicked to the curb by your other half. But, as difficult as it might be, try not to fly off the handle. Take some deep breaths – count to 100 if you need to – and listen to the reasons why they don’t like the name (hence the importance of the point above). Try also to put yourself in their situation, just as you might have rejected a name that they love.
Feelings of resentment can creep in, however. For example, if you say no to a name that your partner suggests, and they immediately reject one of your suggestions for no apparent reason – you might feel like they did it on purpose. Alleviate this niggling feeling by addressing the point and asking them to clarify why they don’t like the name, but remember to really listen to their response rather than prepping your own answer ready to attack.
Sometimes, stepping away from the situation can help. Give yourselves time away from the topic and agree to halt discussions if you really can’t agree. It’ll give you time to mourn the loss of a name that you loved. Plus, another might pop up when you least expect it that you both agree on and you’ll wonder why you liked the original so much in the first place!
If you really don’t want to give up a name and have a valid reason for loving it so much (perhaps it’s a name that means a lot to you, such as belonging to a family member that is no longer here), how about using it as a middle name? This way, you get to keep the sentiment but it appeases your other half by it not becoming the first name. Why not both choose a middle name so that you can each have something you like? Or if you really can’t agree on a first name, why not explore variations of the ones you both like individually? For example, Eve could be Evie, Evelyn or Evangeline.
One point that could be tricky is if you and your other half are from different cultures, growing up with very different sounding names. It can sometimes be hard relating to a name that holds no sentiment for you or is something you’ve never considered before. If this is true for you, one option could be to look for neutral territory names that don’t originate from either home country. Or, alternatively, try to see new ideas as a welcome breath of fresh air. After all, you did decide to have a child with someone who is not from your neck of the woods!
Your Shortlist: Nicknames And Initials
Once you find a few names that you can agree on (including middle names) it’s always good to check the initials when all together to make sure there aren’t any awkward situations. If you love your chosen name so much and you’re ok with any possible embarrassment, then go for it! But ask yourself if it could cause an issue in the future if the initials spell out a naughty or funny word?
Another thing to consider is nicknames. Even if you love the name you’ve chosen and the thought of it being shortened or abbreviated brings tears to your eyes, you’ll have to come to terms with the likelihood that your child (or someone else) might do it anyway. Think about what potential nicknames might be and whether you are comfortable with them.
Finally, remember that the baby represents the best parts of each of you! Get your co-parenting off on the right foot and try to be compassionate towards each other’s thoughts and feelings when it comes to baby names – though, this can sometimes be easier said than done. Who knows, once the baby arrives it might not look like any of the names you’ve decided on anyway, so it’ll be back to the drawing board!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2019 and updated in June 2021.