You Hate Your Baby's Name -- Now What?

birth certificateYou've pored over dozens of baby name books, scoured countless sites, and solicited help from friends to find the absolute perfect name for your baby-to-be. You fill out the birth certificate information and head home. But when you get there, you can't help but notice that your baby doesn't seem like a "Sarah" or a "Jed" or a "Hudson." It just doesn't suit him or her. Or maybe you've just come to the conclusion that you really don't even like the name any more.

You're suffering from a case of baby name remorse. It happens. And it's more common than you think.

The question is: What do you do now?


According to Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby, finding the perfect baby name is one of the biggest stresses for parents-to-be. The need to be unique, different, and yet still conventional is hard. After revealing a pregnancy, and then the gender, the name is really the last secret parents can keep before the stork arrives. And often times, they struggle with the decision.

"When it comes to baby names, there is too much choice now," says Wattenberg. "And that turns into a perfect recipe for anxiety and regret." With countless choices, the standards of finding a perfect name are higher, and the need to be competitive is increased.

But sometimes, the name you've chosen just simply doesn't match the child you meet. "Some names are just hard for a newborn to live up to," she adds. "That's putting a lot of pressure on a newborn. But remember: If the name does not fit your baby, it might fit your 10-year-old, or your 30-year-old, so don't give up just yet."

But if time goes on and you continue to have that "what was I thinking" feeling about your baby's name, here are some things you can do:

  1. Pinpoint why. The first step is to understand exactly why you no longer like the name you've picked. "Often times, parents have chosen a creative name and were dismayed at the reaction they got from family and friends," says Wattenberg. You announce your baby to the world and you're met with some unenthusiastic "Oh's." That's a surefire reason to feel uneasy about the name. Other times, parents find that the name has become far too popular. You may think that your baby Mia or Noah is one-of-a-kind, but chances are there'll be a couple more like-named kiddos in your baby's daycare. That's never a good feeling.
  2. Consider a nickname. Maybe your little Christopher is more of a Topher, or your Avery is more of an Avy. Play around with the name and see if the alternatives are more fitting.
  3. Use that awesome middle name. There's a reason you've chosen a middle name for your child, and it could be that the second name is much more suitable than the first. This is a great idea, especially when your son is a "Junior" or beyond. Choosing a second name might be the way to go.
  4. Shorten it to their initials. Jacob Daniel can be J.D. or Elaine June can go by E.J. Consider abbreviating the names for a more unique spin, says Wattenberg.
  5. Introduce a new name as a nickname. Have "New Name Week" at home, says Wattenberg. With older children, have everyone go by a different name for one week. If your child likes it, and you do too, it'll stick.
  6. Don't be embarrassed. If you truly feel that the name you chose no longer "fits" your baby, don't wait too long to "change" it, and don't be afraid of what people may think. And don't worry about confusing your child. Chances are, you already use so many names for her (baby, booboo, love, honey, etc.), that throwing one more into the mix won't hurt one bit, says Wattenberg. As far as your family and friends go? "Send them a funny re-birth announcement," Wattenberg says. Take control of the name change and don't be scared to share the good news.
  7. Remember: Ultimately, it's your child's name. "There's a point of jurisdiction," says Wattenberg. "Eventually, the name no longer becomes the parents', but the child's." At one point, whether it's when they're three, or 12, the name no longer becomes your property. It's their identification, their title, and their personal self. If they've grown to like it, changing it isn't really an option.

Did you ever regret your baby's name?


Image via essie/Flickr

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