6th May 2020

The 5 stages of choosing a baby name

Picking baby names is fun… in theory. Most of us have a secret list of names in our head (or, we admit it, saved in our actual phones) for our imaginary baby, way before we’ve even found the person we’ll make one with. But that doesn’t mean said person will agree. And there are a whole lot of other things to think about too…

1. The initial brainstorm

This is the fun bit, and might well have been one of the first things you did when you found out you were pregnant. Leafing through baby name books, browsing mum forums, delving into the family history for any surprise inspo, spending a lot of time reading through the credits on TV shows… drawing up a longlist of names, perhaps when you don’t even know if you’re having a boy or a girl, feels like a fun new game. But beware, this is the honeymoon period of name-choosing…

2. The existential crisis

Because then you start analysing your list and questioning who you even are. Do you want a name from the top 20 list from last year so that your little one will always fit in, or do you want to show how unconventional you are by picking something unusual? You work in the legal department of a large bank, can you really pull off cute nature names like River and Willow? Or you like traditional names like James and Charlotte, but now you’re worried this make you really boring? And the last thing you want to do is seem trendy or faddy, so you scrub any names on the list that seem to tick that box, leaving you with… no clue, no clue at all. Remember, all that really matters is that you (and your partner – but more on that shortly) like the name, what it conveys to other people you know is largely irrelevant (well, unless you’re thinking of calling them Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock; then might we gently suggest a small rethink?).

3. The tense negotiations

Guess what? It turns out your partner might want some input into this whole name thing too. The cheek of it! OK, so modern etiquette dictates that you, the owner of the vagina that will eject the baby (or indeed the torso that the stork will elegantly lift the baby out of), will likely get the final say, but, in the name of equality, your partner should be allowed to veto any names they don’t like. They might even make some suggestions of their own, and we would urge you to pretend to politely consider at least half of them, instead of spitting out your stir-fry and openly scoffing at their plain ludicrous suggestions.

4. The fear

So, you finally think you’ve found the name. But the period between choosing the name and the baby actually being born can be a tense one. Every time you scroll your social media feed and see that a celebrity – especially if it’s one you find a bit naff – announces a new arrival, you will shakily click on the link, terrified that they will have stolen your name. And it’s much, much worse if you have actual friends or relatives who are expecting a baby too, especially if theirs is due a few weeks before yours… you won’t be able to relax about this until your baby is born and you’ve announced it to everyone. Which leads us on to…

5. The reveal

We strongly recommend not sharing your name of choice with anyone until the baby has been born. You’ll feel irritated if a friend or family member fails to disguise their disgust at the “ridiculous” name you’ve chosen, but they are far less likely to do this if it’s already attached to a beautiful tiny human who they now love. When you announce the name, you can also be smug in the knowledge that all the people you know who are slightly less pregnant than you were are now reading it with the same trepidation you recently felt. But you’ve bagsied it now… unless you looked at your baby when they were born and realised the name you’d settled on didn’t suit them at all. In which case it’s back to square one, but a lot more franticly this time…

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