Choosing your baby’s name can be one of the trickiest tasks for parents.
It’s something you probably spent hours thinking about during your first pregnancy (not so much if you have another, due to lack of time and sleep).
How We Picked Our Baby Names
After my wife got pregnant with our first I discovered she’d had a list of baby names squirrelled away for years.
I expect this is fairly common, more so for women but there’s probably a few men out there who’ve had their heart set on calling their children after their favourite band, sports team, or beer.
So once we got past the worry of the first twelve weeks there were lots of conversations about names. During some of these I was drunk but thankfully for our boys their mummy wasn’t and so Huckleberry and Aethelstan were vetoed.
Naturally we bought some books (listed below) and checked out the most popular names on Babycentre and the baby name generator on Bounty. But I think we secretly knew what our first boy was going to be called (and it would probably have been the same had he been a girl).
For some reason we still avoided saying his name until he was actually here, wriggling in our arms, a bit bruised from his entry to the world, so he was Peanut for months (and later his brother was known as Peanut 2.0 as we didn’t have the energy to think of a new bump nickname).
It was only on seeing his face that we were absolutely sure of his name and saying it out loud when the midwife asked us sounded completely right, as if he’d always been there. During the next 24 hours together in hospital we toyed with a couple of alternatives but we were sure he was looking cross about them so we stuck with our gut instinct.
Naming Your Second (Third, Fourth etc) Baby
If you have more than one child you either have the fun of getting to use your other favourite names or, like us, decide you’ve gone off them all in the meantime and go into a tailspin because you can’t actually find anything that seems right.
Poor baby number two. Firstly we were told we were having a girl. Cue us excitedly making lists of girl names only to have them torn up in our faces (metaphorically speaking) at the 20 week scan.
As the months passed in a blur of looking after our first toddler his brother’s name continued to elude us. By the time he was born we had it down to a shortlist of ten and he was referred to by several different names to see which one fitted him like a tiny knitted glove.
Whenever he looked us in the eye after trying out a name we still weren’t sure and were actually quite pleased the hospital staff simply called him ‘Baby’ as it let us off the hook.
In my opinion you have at least 48 hours grace before announcing the name to the world but I have heard of people taking much longer to make up their mind. The final deadline for choosing a name is when you’re registering your baby, which you must do no later than 42 days after the birth.
When the big birth certificate day arrived we were still discussing final names while my wife was on her way to the registrar’s office! I don’t recommend choosing your child’s name by shouting out options in the office at the eleventh hour, but after a straw poll our second boy ended up with two middle names, one of which we now keep forgetting about. Oops.
Revealing Your Baby’s Name To The World
Once your baby’s name is public knowledge be prepared for the reactions.
It seems obvious to me now that grandparents will have been rooting for their own favourites (possibly names from their original list that weren’t used), and you may expect extended family and close friends to chip in with suggestions.
You might not be ready for nurses and midwives, everyone at work, the neighbours, people who see you buying baby-stuff in the supermarket, the postman, meter reader, and random people you end up talking to on the bus to have a view.
However, I can almost guarantee they will have no hesitation in sharing their ideas and then looking a bit crestfallen if you don’t shout, “YES! That’s it. Thank you thank you thank you. We’ll never forget the day the double-glazing salesman named her Everest.”
Actually you can of course ignore everyone apart from close family and friends chucking names at you. Some of the problems to be aware of are:
a) they might suggest something you have chosen and then claim to have ‘picked the name’
b) go on and on about a name you hate and then look sad when it isn’t used
c) inspire someone else whose baby is being born first to use the one name you had your heart set on
d) bore you to death about it.
At some point you have to pull down the shutters and politely thank everyone for their ideas and say you’ve got enough now and you’ll let everyone know once the baby arrives.
Should You Reveal Your Children’s Names Online?
When I started blogging I used aliases for both our boys. The first was Baby B and then Little B as he grew and when number two arrived he was Baby F.
I don’t know exactly why I chose to do that. It was a mixture of being naturally cautious, feeling odd talking about my children to strangers, and doing what I’d seen other bloggers do.
After a couple of years I started to feel more relaxed about it. Despite scare stories in the media about online safety and how bloggers were basically ransoming their children’s futures or leaving them prey to online weirdos I began to wonder what I was really so worried about.
I am careful about what I do reveal about our children online. Aside from not ridiculing them or saying anything I think they might not like when they’re older (whole other post there) I also make sure not to include the following in posts or photos:
- too much detail about exactly where we live (I think the rough locale is a safe compromise)
- where they go to nursery (school in future)
- their date of birth (month is ok i think)
- middle names, or nicknames only used in the family
I did a bit of research and checked out the Tots 100 bloggers; roughly one third name their children and the others give them an alias. So in choosing to reveal my boys’ names on my blog it appears I’m in the minority.
In making a risk assessment about what to reveal about your children I would always consider worst case scenarios and then think about what the likelihood of that is.
So for example, I don’t think it is likely anyone would stalk them physically or try to snatch them. My main concern is going to be when they start school and other parents/children read about them. And when they go online themselves and their own online footprint overlaps with the one I’ve created.
This brings me back to not posting anything I think they’d be offended by or that might cause them embarrassment as they grow up. I’ll likely return to this theme in a later post.
Love Your Name(s)
A final piece of advice on naming children. Deep down we all want a name we are proud of and don’t cringe when we hear it. And the thing is, I never really like my name. I never felt it fitted the me in my head. (Sorry mum and dad!) I hated having to say mine, mainly as I couldn’t say my ‘arrs’ when I was little so Adrian came out as Adwian.
I have an enduring memory of being six year’s old and the teacher asking in class at the start of term what everyone’s name was. Then – I still have no idea why – she asked who didn’t like their name and I put my hand up. So that was the next year of school having the piss taken. I put this down to it being the 70s when ridiculing kids in school was the least bad thing that went on.
So when was my turn to bestow names I wanted our boys to have ones that were easy on the ear, a bit cheeky, sounded cool, and (this might sound a bit laddish but it’s true) sounded good when shouted out on the playing field or across a crowded bar.
“Oi! Billy! Frankie! What you having?”
Yeah. That works. Phew.
So now you know. Our boys are called Billy and Frankie.
I like writing their real names. I hope you like them too.
My favourite baby name sources of inspiration:
Hipster Baby Names (if you dare)
Finally, if you’re still stuck, here’s our list of baby names (boys and girls). If you are inspired to name your children from this list I’ll be delighted!
Albert, Alfred (Freddie), Arthur, Bertie, Betsy, Finn, Freya, Harold (not Harry), Holly, Isla, Joe, Jools, Jude, Mabel, Milo, Milly, Monty, Morris, Nelly, Olive, Peggy, Rosie, Sam, Sidney, Sophie, Stanley, Sylvie, Teddy, Walter, Wilbur, Wilf, Winnie.
Categories: Being Dad