How To Confidently Name The Child You Haven’t Met


Afraid to commit to your baby’s name before giving birth?

You’re not alone.

One big concern of many expectant parents is the pressure to find that perfect name that will suit their child for life. Considering that much about an unborn baby is unknown, finding a suitable name can be a tall order.

Many UBN readers expressed this concern when I asked email followers to share their biggest baby name challenges.

This concern is also shared by blogger Kelcey Kintner who wrote about baby name regret on parenting blog Alpha Mom.

Convinced that she was having a boy with her second child, Kintner hadn’t considered many girl names. When her suspicion turned out wrong, she hastily picked a name for her daughter that never seemed right.

Finally after six months, she got up the courage to broach the subject of a name change with her husband. He finally agreed to the name change, and her daughter adopted a new moniker at age 8 months.

Kintner is very happy with her choice and feels the new name, Summer, suits her child better than the original name, which she never mentions.

I’ve come across many parents who have considered a name change for their baby and I began to realize the practice may be more common than I thought.

And while a name change is no walk in the park, thankfully the option exists for many.

One warning: if you are considering a name change for your baby, the sooner the change is made the better, but certainly the change should happen before the baby’s first birthday.

But understandably, most of us would like to avoid changing our baby’s name.

And not everyone who is dissatisfied with their baby’s name chooses to change it.

Kintner spoke to another regretful mother who grew to accept the chosen name was meant for her baby, despite her initial misgivings. Kinter writes:

By the time Banks and her husband came up with a new name, she felt like her daughter had grown into her original name so they decided to stick with it.

This same mom (who is identified by the pseudonym Melissa Banks) did express concern over the pressure she felt to pick her baby’s name:

But Banks does think moms should be given more time to hold, feed and get to know their baby before being pressured into picking a name.

And another commenter to Kintner’s article, who simply referred to herself as “A”, echoed feeling this same pressure:

“The hospital comes in with the paperwork before you even get a second to shower after labor!”

The question is: where does this pressure come from? Is there really a rule stating that all babies must be named before leaving the hospital or is this a myth?

In the U.S., the answer varies by state, but in most cases, you are allowed to leave the hospital with a nameless baby. The deadline for picking a name for the birth certificate varies by state and there may be fees involved for selecting a name after certain deadlines.

Hospitals are known to pressure parents to pick a name before heading home with baby. And picking a name the day your baby is born simplifies the paperwork. But if you arm yourself with research from your local government offices, you may not have to cave to the pressure.

With that said, I have always been the type who felt most comfortable picking a name long before my children were born. My belief is that most people grow into their names, even if they don’t fit a certain stereotype for any given name.

But I have come to empathize with expectant parents who worry about whether a name will fit their unborn baby. After all, there is so much mystery surrounding an unborn baby’s appearance and personality.

Adding to the predicament is that a name that perfectly fits a sweet newborn, may be inappropriate on a 50-year-old. I can certainly understand the apprehension behind picking a name that will fit a child for life.

For people who are worried about a name fitting their baby, I suggest the following:

  1. Think of the names you like without worrying too much about whether they fit at first.
  2. Ask yourself if you or your partner could live with the name. Could you pull off the name? Eliminate any names that seem out-of-place.
  3. Imagine each name on your (and if possible, your partner’s) relatives. Could your relatives pull off the name? Eliminate any more names that seem out-of-place.

Without knowing who your baby will become, the best you can do is test drive the name on your baby’s relatives since most people tend to be like their relatives. (At least in appearance and certain mannerisms.)

And in the end, perhaps coming to the hospital with a list—but not a long list—is a good idea. A list of 3-6 names is enough to give you options without resulting in overwhelm.

And hopefully take comfort in knowing that, as with every other parenting decision, you did the best you could.

Readers: Do you feel more comfortable picking a name before or after your baby is born?

References for legal timeframe for picking a name:

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  1. I typed up a long comment and lost it, oops! The upshot was, planning for flexibility helped me feel more comfortable choosing a name that I hope will suit my son throughout life. I brainstormed potential nicknames based on his first and middle names and on initials, in case he doesn’t like his first name when he gets older.

    While we chose his name before birth, we didn’t consider it final until after we had a chance to meet him, and as a result we shared the name very cautiously and with only a few close friends and family beforehand. Living in Texas, monogrammed gifts are very popular, so I didn’t want his name to be widely known before the baby shower, because I worried that I would feel forced to stick with a name that I no longer felt right about, just because people had spent money on personalized gifts.

  2. Jennifer R. says:

    I like a happy medium of having top contenders but not announcing the name until after the baby is born. We will have a list of girls and boys names that we both like and just choose the day of the birth. There may be a clear winner, or one may just feel right. Who knows.

    I would never tell family and friends the name of the baby before it is born. Not only is it considered bad luck but it also locks you in to a name where you may feel pressure to keep that name even if you start to change you mind. I know when my niece and nephews were born, the names had been broadcast to everyone and they had monogrammed stuff before birth. We will not be doing that! On the flip side, if our tastes veered from the traditional I might bounce names off of everyone else to get a feel for if our choice was too crazy. That won’t be a problem as our top choices right now are names like Catherine or Benjamin.

    To each their own though, I agree most people grow to fit a name!

  3. British American says:

    Kelcey Kintner’s daughter Summer was originally named Presley. I follow her blog. 🙂 I think I found her because of her post about changing her daughter’s name, then she was pregnant with twins, so I stuck around to see what she named them. They have 5 kids now. 🙂

    We named our first two kids in the hospital, after they were born. It was hard to make that final call.
    Our 3rd was a gender surprise, so we picked out a boy name and a girl name beforehand. Then we stuck with the boy name. My husband made the pick that 3rd time around, which may have been why he was able to pick ahead of birth and stick with it! 😛


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