5 Ways To Sabotage Your Baby Name Search

unhappy-babyNaming a baby is perhaps the first biggest decision new parents make. Naturally parents should think carefully before choosing one. Yet there is a fine line between being conscientious and over thinking the name search.

And while sometimes the perfect name is the one that feels right, there is also a fine line between trusting your instincts, and being closed off to other options when a beloved name doesn’t work.

In order to reach some balance and find that name that was meant for your baby, the trick is to be reasonable and, at the same time, have some fun seeking your baby’s name. Here are some ways to completely suck the fun out of naming a baby, making the baby name search more stressful and less successful:

1. Clinging to the name you picked when you were a kid.

Moms are more guilty of this than Dads. When you were a kid, your partner existed in Fantasyland. Residents of Fantasyland are completely agreeable. They have never had bad experiences with the name you have loved since you were 12.

And if you are a traditional women who plans to give your baby the father’s last name, residents of Fantasyland all have last names that just flow beautifully with every possible first name.

At some point your fantasy partner became a reality. This is a wonderful thing. But residing in the real world, your partner will have opinions too, and may have their own family naming traditions.

If you are open to other possibilities you may even find a name you like more than the one that has been your top name forever.

No matter how long that top name has been on your list, other practical considerations, such as your partner’s opinion, must count too. This leads to the next item on the list.

2. Refusing to compromise with your partner.

I know how it feels to find a name you absolutely love only to have your partner hate it. I can relate to wanting to stand your ground and fight for the name you love. And if your partner is one of those people who doesn’t like any names, I can sympathize. For this reason, I would never discourage someone from selling a name to a skeptical partner.

But let’s face it, sometimes both partners can stonewall each other, refusing to budge on an issue. Do you love that name enough that you don’t care that it makes your partner shudder?

After a while both partners need to let go and work together. While this can be difficult, both partners must find common ground. It’s best for your relationship. It’s best for your baby.

3. Seeking approval from every single family member, friend, co-worker, and acquaintance.

This is almost the opposite of #2. While some parents feel they don’t need their partner’s agreement, others need agreement—not just from their partner but—from everyone else too.

As already discussed, getting both parents to agree on a name can be a monumental task. But getting every grandparent, sibling, friend, and colleague to agree on a name is down right impossible. Group-think consensus is especially futile if you are like many parents and you want a name that is “different”. “Different” names are often different because they lack universal appeal.

When it comes to naming your baby, your partner’s sign-off is the only sign-off you need. Save yourself the aggravation of getting everyone else’s approval. Your parents, grandparents, sister, uncle and hairdresser will learn to deal with the name you choose.

4. Being obsessed with Social Security rankings.

Over 15 years ago the Social Security Administration made the top 1000 baby names available to the public. This list is updated yearly. This is a great tool, which revolutionized name trends.

I’m not sure if the Social Security popular name list caused parents to become obsessed with avoiding popular names or the list was already filling an existing demand. Whatever the case, this generation of parents is more concerned with giving their kids “different” names than earlier generations.

At one time parents concerned with avoiding popular names avoided the top 10 list. Then that list grew to the top 20. Then the top 50, 100, 200, 300, and now many parents will try to avoid any name in the top 1000.

That’s a lot of names to avoid. But besides eliminating great names based only on a number (and a volatile one at that), name statistics have some limitations. Have you ever noticed how some names feel more (or less) popular than their social security rankings suggest? There are many reasons for this, which I explain in detail in Why Popular Name Stats Can Be Misunderstood.

5. Over thinking a name’s teasing potential.

Bully phobia was discussed on UBN in-depth before. Some kids are completely immune to teasing, while others are bully magnets. This means a bully immune kid with a risky name will remain unaffected by it, while a bully magnet with a safe name will be teased for some other reason.

While I don’t condone picking a name that is blatantly humorous, I would never disqualify a name just because it has remote teasing potential. For example, some parents will eliminate a name for rhyming with a funny word. But if you think long enough, you can find a funny word to rhyme with many names. Instead of trying to find the safest (most boring) name possible for your child, work on building their social skills instead.

When faced with the task of finding a name, thinking about every name’s pros and cons makes sense. Finding a name is something new parents should take seriously. But many times parents find inspiration when they stop over-analyzing and have fun naming their baby.

Readers: Have you fallen prey to any of the items on this list?

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    I think another way to sabotage your baby name search is to have too many rules. Swistle has talked about this.

    • Good thought. Not many names can meet a long list of requirements. Sometimes requirements can almost contradict. People often want a name that is unique and yet pleases everyone.

  2. This is a topic that isn’t talked about enough! What a great list.

    As I’ve helped couples name kids over the years, I’d say I encounter #2 the most. (That’s probably why they’re seeking out a neutral 3rd party.) But I often see shades of #1, #4 and #5 as well.

    #2 I don’t think I’ve ever seen. It’s a good point in theory, and I’m sure it happens in some cases, but most of the parents I talk to just aren’t seeking approval from anyone outside their marriage/partnership. (In fact, a lot of them get very annoyed by unsolicited outside opinions.)

    • Thanks! I don’t see #3 (seeking approval from everyone) often, but the few times I have seen it, I’ve been frustrated by it. I understand parents being annoyed by unsolicited feedback, and that might be why #3 is a personal pet-peeve of mine!

      You know where I saw #3? Like once (or possibly twice) on Swistle Baby Names! The topic hasn’t been the main topic of discussion, it just came up quickly, like if you blink you would miss it. The Swisle reader may have said something like, “And my family thinks this is an “old-lady name” or something similar. I think I remember one reader saying something like, “my Mom doesn’t like the name, and neither does my sister or my best friend”. Since “seeking outside approval” wasn’t the primary focus of these posts, and I don’t remember which names were the focus of these posts, I’m not sure how to search and find these posts. I just have these vague memories.

      • I can confirm there have been quite a few people on Swistle writing in to say that other people were having major issues with their choice of baby name. Usually the mother-in-law, and usually because there was a family tradition they didn’t want to stick to (“the eldest son in each generation MUST be named Baruthusabbas” etc)

        I also had someone writing in due to in-law interference. I think with very traditional families, and families with other cultural heritages, it can be a big issue with the potential to tear families apart.

  3. Megan M. says:

    Great list! I think #4 and #5 annoy me the most when I see it happening. You are so right – kids who tease will find ANYTHING to tease about, and given names usually have nothing to do with it.

    A related thing that really annoys me is wanting to control the nicknames… I see people asking for name suggestions to get to a certain nickname, or using a name they don’t love all that much because they feel they “have to have” a “formal” name.


  1. […] couple of weeks ago I shared 5 Ways To Sabotage Your Baby Name Search. One “baby name saboteur”, was #2: Failing to Compromise With Your Partner. […]

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