Conventional wisdom is that it’s best to keep the baby name quiet until the baby is actually in your arms.
There are so many reasons – mostly the burden of unsolicited opinions, and, of course, the potential for name theft.
Other parents really haven’t quite narrowed it down, and are counting on looking at their baby to settle on a name. I guess it could help – a shock of red hair might point to Rory rather than Riley.
Or maybe you’re 99% certain, but it just doesn’t feel right to embroider it on a receiving blanket before you’ve inked it on the birth certificate.
Two people in our lives have recently welcomed babies. In one case, the couple announced the name shortly after they knew it was a girl. In another case, I don’t have a clue what they’re naming the baby. Even though we’ve talked about baby names for ages and – well, it goes without saying that I’m interested.
My husband and I have always fallen into the announce-immediately club. With our son, I sort of wish we hadn’t, because his middle name could have used some more mulling. But I’ve never had a moment’s regret about sharing our daughter’s name. Even though, yes, we did get all sorts of comments, and a handful of criticisms, too.
As with most things in naming – and parenting in general! – I don’t think there are any rules. It’s a question of doing what feels right for you and your family at that very moment.
And yet there are some strong opinions out there. So I’m curious: did you share your children’s names before they were born?
There’s a poll in this post – and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
- Speaking of voting, wasn’t Round #1 of Name Madness at NameFreak! incredibly difficult! How can I choose between Greer and June?
- And Happy Birthday Britney Spears! Time for the Pop Culture Baby Name Game. I’m entering Peter, as in Pan, as in both the live action version from NBC, as well as the prequel – titled just Pan – due in theaters Summer 2015, and already in heavy rotation in the coming attractions.
- A boy named Jazz, spotted by Names for Real. At first, it seems like a lot of name, but then again, we’ve been naming girls Jazzmyn and Jazlene lately. I like Jazz so much more than any of those Jasmine-inspired choices.
- All of the great November Babyberries – including our own Clementine Beatrice! Also, Bastian, Edie, and two Elowens. I think Elowen is really going places …
- Big in Japan.
- Things that I’m naturally pretty darn good at: spelling. And yet we all have words that we just plain flub. But because I’m so confident in my spelling, I can get a really big blind spot about these words. Which is a (really) long way of wondering if everybody else misspells poinsettia, and if that makes Poinsettia more or less wearable as a Christmas baby name?
- Does Friends really get credit for the uptick in baby girls named Emma? This article says yes. Ross and Rachel welcomed baby Emma in May 2002. Emma was #17 in 2000, #13 in 2001, #4 in 2002, and #2 in 2003. There’s definitely an impact, but it’s hard to separate the Friends-related rise from Emma’s already strong upward trend.
- Would you ever name your kiddo after a star athlete? Here’s a rundown of the most influential NBA players in terms of namesakes.
- I’ve never spent much time on The Name Garden, but I find this smoosh name rather charming: Bellafaye. Maybe not for a real, actual child. But as a middle name or fictional character? Kind of love it.
- A nice, reasoned perspective on choosing your child’s last name. Though I think it overlooks the realities of longer and more complicated last names. Stella Cruz Smith and Asa Edwards Allen sound great. But what if you’re working with surnames like Kukowski and Morgenstern? Mia Morgenstern Kukowski is somewhat less tempting.
- This sibset: Yaden, Arrow, Wilder, Scout, and Grove. Swoon!
- I wrote a list of reasons to ditch the family names. Now Meagan has a great post on reasons to embrace honor names! Can I add one more? It narrows down your shortlist beautifully.
That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!
Can I be a feminist harpy for a hot minute? Gender is a social construct; we don’t know our children’s gender until they choose it themselves. The sex, however, is the thing we find out when we see three lines or a dangling appendage or some combination thereof. I feel like people use “gender” because they feel it’s somehow more polite?
You’re right, Stefanie … and I’ve watched both of my kids go through that light-bulb moment. And I’d never thought about saying sex versus gender.
But now that I’m turning it over in my head, I think gender is the right word, not just politesse.
If gender is a social construct, names are absolutely part of that. When we name our unborn children, there’s a healthy amount of imagination involved – and that imagination is based on our ideas of what a girl or boy child is supposed to be like. Our expectations of what we could name a child shift not because of biology, but because of our assumptions and expectations about what makes a girl name versus a boy name.
It’s the very rare parent who decides a name before knowing the gender. (And, I suppose I’d argue that even parents who make that choice have some sense that it would be socially acceptable for either a boy or a girl to bear a mother’s maiden name as a given name, or similar …)
But, practically speaking, the world does not cease to rotate if boys and girls are given the same names. (Or toys. Or clothes.) So I think names are always – and instantly – about gender.
You’re right that most people base their name choice on their ideas about gender, but that doesn’t mean the semantic distinction is moot. We don’t find out from an ultrasound the gender of an unborn baby. We learn the biological sex (mostly; not accounting for intersex children which is determined by genitalia and DNA) and base the name decision on the gender constructs we’ve embraced. I guess we could say “I’ve chosen to find out the sex and assign a gender” but nobody’s gonna do that. I like this overview from Planned Parenthood re: the difference between sex and gender. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/sexual-orientation-gender/female-male-intersex
If we were able to learn the gender of our kids in utero, there wouldn’t be any trans folks. 🙂
We don’t share the name until after the baby is born because we don’t KNOW if we’re really going to use the name until we meet the baby. We had a strong contender and a few back ups, but I like to maintain my freedom of choice until I actually get a look at the kid in question. My brother just had a baby and as soon as they saw it they knew the name they’d picked out (and leaked to us) was totally wrong, and they spent two days in the hospital picking something else.
For our first, we told the first name shortly after finding out the gender. I wanted to keep the middle name a surprise but my husband spilled the beans early. With this baby, we’ve been slower to share the first name and no one knows the middle yet but that’s because we’re not 100% yet. It’s hard when everyone asks but it’s nice to have a surprise.
We shared daughter’s name pretty close to when we picked it.
With my son… we were pretty set on his name, but after a family member’s death we got a lot of pressure from hubby’s family to use that name… so, other than discussing names w/ a cousin who was also expecting a son that summer… we didn’t tell anybody else until he was born.
It’s the Jewish custom to wait to share the baby’s name even after he/she is born. For boys, we wait eight days until the brit (circumcision ceremony) and then the baby boy officially receives his name. For girls, the wait is usually shorter. The baby will be named on either a Monday, Thursday or Saturday which are the days when we read from the Torah (bible) and this is the opportunity for the baby girl to officially receive her name. Our baby girl was born on a Tuesday morning so she didn’t get her name until Thursday.
We didn’t find out the gender so that and the name were a secret until the birth. I’d do it the same way again were I to have another (which I won’t). When people would ask my husband what we were naming the baby, he’d just tell them their own names!
No kids yet, but our agreed upon tactic is that we will likely share the first name once we know the gender. We’re wafflers when it comes to middle names, and that paired with the fun “surprise!” element of a birth announcement name reveal is why we’re waiting until the baby is here to name them fully. My family would pester us to death if we refused to share any part of the name, even if we weren’t sure!
Re: Poinsettia as a Christmas baby name, I read somewhere of a Poinsettia who went by Pins, and I thought that was pretty adorable.
We didn’t know the sex of our first child, but we did announce our top first name choices for a boy and girl at the baby shower, which were William and Catherine. We didn’t announce the middle name until after William was born, though, for a few reasons. 1) It was fun to keep part of the name a surprise. 2) We hadn’t settled on a middle name for Catherine before the aforementioned baby shower anyway. 3) And our middle name choices (Balthazar and Ophelia) had more potential for criticism, which we didn’t want to hear.
The second time around, we found out it was a girl and immediately started calling her Catherine. Again, though, we kept the middle name a secret so at least something would be a surprise!
We didn’t share our daughter’s name before she was born because we didn’t know what it was until she was about 2 hours old! We had had a girl’s name picked out for years, and then when we found out we were having a girl both of us got cold feet. We tossed ideas back and forth but other than having a nickname we liked (but didn’t want to give as the only name), nothing stood out. There was one full form of that nickname that my husband pushed for that I wasn’t keen on, but in the week before she was born, it was the only real contender, and after she was born I decided I rather liked the idea that daddy picked out her name, so we went with it, and it soon became blindingly obvious that no other name could’ve worked.
My sister has always kept the name a secret in part because she’s never found out the gender in advance. However, since I’m the onomast in the family, she has occasionally shared with me some of their short-list, knowing that I have Strong Feelings about names and that I should be allowed to air at least some of them. And thank goodness. Otherwise, I could very well have ended up with a niece named Aderyn Glewwe. (My rule of thumb: No more than one element of the name should be such that you cannot spell it if you only hear it, and you cannot pronounce it if you only see it written down. Pick two elements like that, and you’ve doomed your child to spelling out his/her name every single time.)
Megan M. says
We’ve always shared our baby names as soon as we found out the gender. For both girls we had the name settled well before the gender scan. For our boy I think we decided about a week later.
Bellafaye is pretty! I agree it reads more fictional character though.
Never heard Yaden before, but I love the rest of that sibset!
OMG! We have a Wilder, and I’ve been trying to convince my husband our next (future) baby should be Arrow. How funny!