English: Infant wearing a onesie

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.

Elsewhere online:

  • 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!


About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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. https://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. 🙂