What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.
It’s probably going to stay with your child for the rest of their lives, be an inherent part of their identity and possibly be the first label attached to them that people may judge or stereotype them from. It’s something you often decide before even meeting them for the first time let alone getting to know their personality. So it’s no surprise that choosing your baby’s name is no small task.
Fortunately (or not if you’re a bit rubbish at making decisions like us) there are lots of different ways of coming up with the perfect choice…
Many parents simply start by considering the names they just like the sound of and seeing if they can agree on any but for some the meaning behind the name itself is just as important.
“We chose a boy and a girl’s name as we didn’t know what we were having,” explains Michelle from Time and Pence. “The girl’s name we just liked but the boy’s name had a special meaning. We had been told we couldn’t have children then after three failed IVFs I conceived naturally. It was a boy and his name means ‘a gift from God’ so I think it was meant to be.”
“We chose George for a boy because it means farmer in Greek and my husband is a farmer,” says Emma of Farmer’s Wife and Mummy.
Elevated Mum’s Ngozi chose her children’s name based on her “religion’s beliefs, culture and the meanings of the names. I always believed the meanings of names can influence a person’s character. I also gave all my children three names so no one felt left out! Chukwuemeka (male) means God has done so much in Igbo, a Nigerian language and Daniel means God is my judge in Hebrew. Chinonyelum (female) means God be with me in Igbo and Kyla means victorius in Hebrew. Chika (female) means God is superior in Igbo and Nathania means God has given in Hebrew.
“Our girls have meaning behind their name which are two fold – because they were both IVF and for old family names,” says Carrie from Flying With a Baby. “One means ‘answered prayer’ our first miracle baby and her middle name is named after my grandmother, the youngest’s name means ‘mighty in battle’ as we were told she was inconceivable, then not viable and to expect a miscarriage, then told that she was possibly an ectopic and then she had a CCAM issue. She made it through and is healthy! She also has a family middle name.”
There’s no escaping that extended families can often have a huge influence on the decision-making process of new parents. From following long running traditions, to honouring special relatives to receiving lots of suggestions whether they were asked for or not!
“My boys’ names are all family names,” says Victoria Hockley. “Oldest’s first name is after my grandad with my dad and father in laws names as middle names (James Ian Michael). Then the youngest is after my husband’s grandad with my husband’s name and my grandad’s middle name as his (Freddie Andrew Tinline).” And, as is often the case with family names, they often stretch back even further than at first glance. “Tinline was my grandad’s mum’s maiden name.”
“My son is named after my dad who passed away whilst I was pregnant,” says Laura who writes at Edinburgh with Kids. “We had considered a few names with the same initial we liked (Tobias and Theo) – didn’t decide until he was born but Thomas just looked like the right name for him, it was more meaningful and a good fit!”
“For the first names there was no real story behind them,” says Jenni who writes at The Bear and the Fox. “We chose names we both liked and that were pronounced the same in English and German, as we are a bilingual family. But for the middle names we chose something meaningful. Out first son’s middle name is Thomas, after both grandfathers. Handily they had the same name, so we didn’t have to choose one over the other. For our second son, since we’d already honoured both grandfathers we chose Fox which is the English translation of my German surname (Fuchs).”
And Wildflower and the Bear’s Nicola also found her family’s nationality an influence. “My husband is Welsh so both of my kids – Dilys and Edwyn – have Welsh names,” she explains. “We both wrote out lists of names each and looked at which ones we had both written down which was helpful to narrow it down. I also love looking up the meaning and history of names and like it when names match, so if I had another child their name would definitely be Welsh too!”
If you already have older children then maybe they can make the decision for you. “My eldest actually came up with my daughter’s name,” says Emma-Louise of Even Angels Fall. “I was really struggling on what to call her and asked him (he was two at the time). He said Car. I said you can’t call a baby car so he said Car-leeeee and I loved Carly and went with it! Love telling them the story now, it’s sweet her brother named her.” You might want to make sure you have a back up plan though. “I decided to see if my daughter could name our youngest,” she continues. “The only name she came up with was Salad, so for the pregnancy, that was his name (he’s since been called Benjamin by us, but the word salad still makes me smile).”
And older family members can prove useful too. “My mum chose both my boys’ names,” says Toni from This Mama. “Me and my partner couldn’t agree at first, especially with the surname Kuehl. It’s so hard to get names to sound right, if we were having a girl my son wanted to call her Molly which with our surname would be pronounced molecule! Both times my mum suggested a name and straightaway we were like yes, that’s it, that’s the name.”
“My eldest was named Jack after my grandad. We didn’t even consider another name,” says Jennifer from Mighty Mama Bear. “My daughter was named after a character in a Shirley Hughes book series, Alfie and Annie Rose. My dad used to read me the books when I was young and I always loved the name. As I got older the name always reminded me of those evenings being read stories by my dad. I now read them to my daughter!”
Media and cultural influences
It’s not just literary sources that can supply inspiration either. For All About a Mummy’s Amy music provided the answer. “My youngest daughter Iris is named after our wedding first dance song: Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls.. Whenever she hears it she gets so excited saying it is her song.”
For Mother Geek’s Tina it was a television series – “My daughter was Alicia from the day we found out at the 20 week scan. Then my mum (Alice) started telling everyone it was after her (which it wasn’t). We were watching Alias during the pregnancy and, when baby arrived, neither of us thought she looked like an Alicia, so we called her Sydney (the leading lady in Alias). Her middle name is Robyn because I love Batman and Robin and her older brother was always called Batman by family and friends due to him having so many Batman costumes/tops.”
Emma, aka The Cheshire Wife, looked towards royalty for help. “We like regal names and it was George or Edward. He came out and my husband (Henry) said he’s a George.”
Who doesn’t love a theme?
If mum and dad don’t necessarily share the same cultural tastes then a theme could be as simple as a, b, c.
“All seven of my children’s names start with a ‘C’,” says Claire from Big Family, Big Fun. And their middle names are all after family members. We alternated the family names so one baby would be named after a family member from hubby’s side of the family and the next would be named after a family member from my side of the family. The first two were accidental, they were just names we liked, didn’t even think about the fact they started with the same letter. Eldest was going to be called something else literally up until the day he was born when hubby suggested another name and it stuck. Then when I was expecting number three people started asking if that one would have a ‘C’ name too. We didn’t think they would. I was convinced I was having a boy and had the name Jamie in mind. But we had two girls’ names we liked too, Bethany and Courtney. Courtney just happened to start with a C also. When she made her appearance and we realised she was in fact a girl, I said to hubby to pick whichever of the two girls’ names he preferred. He chose the C name. From then on it was deliberate as each baby we said would be our last and we didn’t want them to be the odd one out. Our angel baby was also given a C name, Charlie, for the hospital’s book of remembrance. So we have Callum, Chloe, Courtney, Cameron, Caitlin and the twins Cassidy and Cody.
“I also didn’t find out what I was having for three out of the seven (I knew numbers two, five and the twins) so we just had a name picked out for each. Callum was actually going to be Liam or Megan. Chloe we knew was a girl so didn’t really have a boy’s name. I had liked Becky or Bethany though. Bethany then made it on to number three’s list. Cameron was either Cameron or Caitlin. We then kept Caitlin for number five (although had considered bucking the trend by going with Harry Christopher for the boy’s name but we found out she was a girl around halfway through so Caitlin it was).
“We were originally told both twins were girls. They would’ve been Cassidy and Connie. When we later discovered one was actually a boy, they became Cody and Cassidy, with Cassidy getting both the original names to make her Cassidy Constance.”
Not any Tom, Dick or Harry
Many parents want to avoid when popular becomes common. “We knew that we didn’t want our daughter to be one of many with the same names in her class so we looked at the online lists of 100 most popular baby names and tried hard to avoid them all!” says Jodie from Maidenhead Mum.
Josie from Me, Them and the Others, agrees, “We were keen to have names that weren’t common so they wouldn’t have another child with the same name in the class but we also didn’t want them to be too rare as I always wanted to meet someone with the same name as me as a child and never did. We both liked old fashioned names and so looked at the top names list for each name we liked and discounted things that were in the top 50ish and outside the top 150ish. We ended up with Stanley and Eliza but it’s turned out that Stanley is regionally very popular and there are multiple Stanleys at the school although none in his class luckily. Definitely worth checking regional popularity if you don’t want something too common!”
When its right to wait
Where we’ve had names picked out for the minis during pregnancy before, the decision isn’t proving as easy this time but if we wait until after mini number four has arrived we’ll be in good company.
“Neither of my children had a name until they were born,” says Becka from Mummy Est.2014. “I really struggled with boys’ names. In the end both names came from a baby book (same book as I kept it after my eldest). We narrowed it down to two names each time and then waited to see which name suited our sons best when they made their entrance. They are Jared and Finley.”
“I didn’t want to find out the gender of either of my rainbow babies,” says Vicki from Blossom Education. “I’d had a very traumatic time with a molar pregnancy and subsequent chemotherapy treatment. Falling and being pregnant felt like a dream. I did discuss names with their dad but it wasn’t until they were both born that we made out final decisions. I often wonder how people feel when their baby is born and the name doesn’t really suit them.”
“We had a list for girls and boys but didn’t actually choose until after they’d arrived. It took a couple of days to lock down first and middle names,” says Helen who had double the decision to make and offers help on her blog Twins, Tantrums & Cold Coffee for Choosing Names for Twins – 6 Ways.
If you’re having a surprise but still wanted to choose just one name ahead of time then one that suits either gender could be the way to go. “With my daughter it was the first name I picked – Rowan. Over my pregnancy I went through liking a lot of different names and then seemed to circle back to the original name. It is a unisex name as well as we were not sure if she was a girl,” says Faith from Raising Moonbows.
And, whilst most people might be concentrating on other things during labour, perhaps it might be the perfect time to reconsider any previous naming dicussions. “We decided on the name Dylan months in advance but when my wife was asked about his name during labour she could not remember through all the painkillers and kept calling him Robbie!” says Steve from The Diary of Dad. “We saw it as a sign and by the time he was born we had to stick with it. We still have the cards and gifts from before the birth with the name Dylan on though!”
Agree to disagree
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome in the decision making process is both mum and dad agreeing on a choice but even a difference of opinion could provide inspiration.
“My daughter is Amabel, it’s the original name from which Mabel comes from,” explains Nicola from Happy Tums. “I wanted Mabel as it was my nan’s name but my husband didn’t like it. When I found Amabel he was convinced and now we call her both names! But everyone finds it really tricky to pronounce as everyone is used to Annabel!”
“We decided on my daughter’s name as soon as we had the gender scan,” says Victoria who writes at Lylia Rose. “Driving back in the car I said I liked Isabella for a girl and my husband said he preferred just Bella so that was perfect. My daughter is Bella! For my son we could never agree on a name. When in hospital, during labour, we went through lists of boys’ names saying aloud to each other any that we like to see if the other agreed. We literally did this for hours until we reached Reuben and it was the first name we both really liked so settled on it. My husband is Ben so we really liked that it had Ben within the name too!”
“We had the deal that if it was a boy my husband would choose (from an approved by me list, of course!) and if it was a girl, I’d choose. I knew I was on to a good thing though as there was no way he’d watch me go through a pretty tough birth then not let me have the choice! Just as well as we ended up with three boys!” says Helen from Twins, Tantrums & Cold Coffee.
And sometimes perhaps it’s best if your partner doesn’t know where your inspiration comes from. “My other half refused to discuss names beforehand in case something went wrong,” explains Emma who writes at Bubbablue & Me. “I had a huge list of girls names but only two boys names. Oliver because I liked both the short version too and it went with our surname but was just too popular. The one I chose that we ended up with was a favourite name of mine since I knew a boy I fancied who played in the same orchestra when I was in 6th form. I don’t like one of the short forms as it’s the same as a girl’s shortened name, so specified the alternative which was out of a Mills and Boon book. Luckily my husband said yes to that name I preferred after I said we needed to decide once he was born. He doesn’t know why I liked the name in the first place though!”
Is there a story behind why you chose your children’s names? Why not share it in the comments below and also some suggest what you think mini number four’s name should be?