To tell or not to tell?

Jan 29th 2010

As expectant parents, you have two big naming decisions. The first is the choice of name. The second is when to reveal it.

At one extreme you have parents who start referring to the fetus by name from the moment they see an ultrasound. Let's call them the "broadcasters." At the other, you have the parents who guard the name as a state secret, refusing to give their nearest and dearest so much as a clue: the "keepers."

Both of these extremes are on the rise. The broadcasters have gained momentum from early sex detection and the self-revelatory culture of the internet. As reader Jen wrote to me, "Facebook seems to be the main vehicle for this reveal: 'We had our 20 week ultrasound today, and Olivia Kate is on the way...,' 'We are on our way to the hospital to meet Matthew!'"

The keepers, meanwhile, have more and more to hide. Our modern culture of creative, distinctive names leads to a lot more wrinkled noses and outraged grandparents at name announcement time. The way keepers see it, if you know they'll complain and you know you won't change your mind, why have the argument? Just present them with an adorable newborn baby, the name a fait accompli.

As usual, extremes carry risks. For the keepers, if you suspect that your friends and family will all hate your child's name, shouldn't that set off alarm bells? Bouncing ideas off people can also help you avoid unwelcome surprises. I've heard from "keeper" parents who learned too late that, say, Amelia was the name of Grandpa's first wife whom nobody ever talks about.

Broadcasters risk locking themselves into premature decisions. Their public pre-announcements can also seem like tempting fate. The sad truth is that things can go wrong with pregnancies, and an early name broadcast to 1,000 Facebook friends can add an extra layer of complication to an already painful time. Even if all goes well, you've stolen the thunder from your birth announcement. If everybody already knows the ultrasound sex reading, the date of your scheduled c-section, and the name, what's left to announce?

Luckily, there's plenty of middle ground. For instance, you can choose a trusted circle to bounce your ideas off of. Ideally the group should include at least one parent of young kids who knows the name landscape, and one person who knows your family well enough to help you navigate around the "Grandma Amelia" problems. If you keep the circle small, you preserve some secrecy and get the extra bonus of flattering the people you've taken into your confidence.

If you're a broadcaster at heart, you can hold back a bit by sharing a list of finalists rather than a champion. (You may have already chosen the winner, but nobody has to know that.) Presenting a candidate list can also generate excitement about the name choice. After all, you can't root for a team without knowing who's playing.

Personally, I like the idea of combining both approaches. If you share a small group of names with a small group of confidantes you gather feedback, retain some air of mystery, and get the full oomph of the birth announcement.

How about you?


By Kelsey L (not verified)
January 29, 2010 3:08 PM

I completely agree!
I have to admit, I have been a bit of a "broadcaster" in the past, although this time around (currently expecting)I have been leaning towards playing the "keeper" role. Maybe we'll announce the name to close friends and family members, and keep our 700 facebook friends at bay until baby arrives! ;) Enjoyed your article!

January 29, 2010 3:20 PM

I was a keeper with my first baby. With baby #2, I slipped when my parents came to visit about a month before the baby was born. I was a broadcaster with baby #3. With baby #4 we didn't make up our minds until the way to the hospital although I had discussed possible names with some family members. I love the idea of providing a few possible contenders - a perfect excuse to come up with more baby names!

January 29, 2010 3:26 PM

I'm definitely a broadcaster. I don't agree with Laura's point that you shouldn't name the baby because it will make it worse if the pregnancy ends. I think having a name for the baby can help you grieve and recognize the loss. And nobody *seriously* thinks that naming the unborn child will cause the pregnancy to fail, right?

Regarding taking the wind out of the birth announcement, I don't agree with that either. The #1 thing most people look for in the birth announcement is the photo! Does the baby look like mom or dad? Hair or no hair? Big or tiny? Seeing the actual baby is the most exciting thing.

The biggest downside of being a broadcaster is the criticism. So you should be thick skinned if you decide to broadcast.

January 29, 2010 3:34 PM

I'm all about keeping the name a secret - though with both children, we didn't actually decide on a name until a hour or so after the baby was born. We did have shortlists though and favourites - that we didn't discuss openly.

With our firstborn I didn't tell anyone (except my husband, of course!) which names I liked. I was a little more open with our second child - talking to one friend about some of the names I like. Family also started giving us suggestions the second time around, which I didn't really enjoy - as I wasn't really looking for suggestions.

As much as I like to discuss baby name choices, it is more exciting to hear the decided name after the baby is born.

One friend decided on a name ahead of time, but didn't tell anyone, incase anyone else used it before their baby was born.

We didn't have any problems with not deciding on or announcing a name before our children were born. And we have it on video where my Mom-In-Law is holding her newborn grandson for the first time and her son tells her the baby's name. (Luckily she liked it!)

By Melanie1 (not verified)
January 29, 2010 3:52 PM

Because we live far away from family, we usually keep more from them than from our friends. Since our first son was to be named after his dad there wasn't much surprise or much to discuss. I had a hard time deciding for our second son and liked having friends to discuss it with. Because we were dealing with the grandfather's names I also felt like I couldn't be quite candid with family. By the time our third child came I felt like I didn't even want to discuss is much. I kept just saying that we were looking at options. Because we weren't even sure of the gender that time there wasn't a choice about settling on the name before the birth. I do like being able to announce the name at the time of the birth. I think as time goes on I do lean more and more towards being a keeper.

By LEW (not verified)
January 29, 2010 3:53 PM

I guess I'm pretty much an open book on names. I've been talking names with family, friends and DH for years before we were actually expecting. Now, granted, my opinions on many of those names have changed now that there's a real little one to name.

Our immediate family already knows our top choices. I can see us not telling all of Facebook, but I definitely can't see us being keepers to the extreme. I guess it's just not in our nature.

I agree with Tizrah, too, on naming early in a pregnancy being fine regardless of what may go wrong later on. I'm not going to avoid things that help us bond with baby just because something could possibly go wrong later. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, too. Harsh, but true.

January 29, 2010 3:59 PM

I'm more of a controlled release type. We learned early on that my father-in-law is incapable of keeping any announcement to himself long enough for Hubs and I to spread the word. So we are pretty choosy and careful now about who gets told what when.

We've only decided on a boys name (it was the easiest decision) and I've only told two people just the first name we've picked out. We've not really talked much about girl's names, but that will be the same way: only talk about the first name. With our amiable windbag in the family, that seems to be the smartest way to keep announcements in our hands!

By hyz
January 29, 2010 4:07 PM

We were definitely keepers for our daughter! We told absolutely nobody (in real life) about any of the names we were considering. I guess I tend to be private in general, and I don't have a very thick skin when it comes to some things. Plus, it was hard enough for DH and I to agree, without having a bunch of external commentary. I didn't want to get input from our parents, who would almost certainly be pretty opinionated and who might tend to feel upset if we didn't follow their suggestions. Most of my friends didn't have any kids, so it didn't seem like they'd be the best source of information. AND, to top it off, I'm a little leary of sharing short lists of names, because whichever names you DON'T pick off that list might tend to look like "second best" choices out of the remnants bin if you decide to use them for future kids.

I don't know. Next time around, I might be a little more inclined to share with a few people--it seems nice in the abstract, but in practice I'm hesitant, because I think it creates more problems than it solves.

January 29, 2010 4:22 PM

I'm a keeper. Absolutely. I wouldn't even reveal the names on our short list. To me, the only people who have to love and identify with the name are the parents and the child. Not only did I not want anyone else in my circle to usurp name before my child was born, I didn't want any raised eyebrows, snide remarks, or giggles to talk me out of a name I was absolutely in love with. We opted for a delivery surprise, so we did not have definitive name picked out ahead of time. For me it was fun to get to know our newborn for a few days and feel out the name that best fit. And although no one in our family had ever heard the name Lyra before, they voiced no protest.

January 29, 2010 4:29 PM

I'm mostly a broadcaster but with our ds we had chosen a name and then he developed some complications. So while I was in the hospital trying to get things sorted out I decided that it wasn't the right name for him. We surprised everyone by introducing them to someone with a name they weren't expecting. With dd we had a list which we had shared but couldn't decide at all. Again, we brought home someone with a different name than they were expecting. We never sent out formal announcements but instead just called our close family and friends who weren't able to be in the area.

Also, I totally agree with Tirzah. For some people it makes the issue of loss actually a bit easier to deal with.

January 29, 2010 4:35 PM

As someone who doesn't have kids and isn't planning to have kids, I don't have a strong preference on the issue. I will say, though, that I do enjoy when expectant friends who are otherwise "keepers" e-mail me for advice, knowing that I keep up with the trends.

By Guest (not verified)
January 29, 2010 4:36 PM

I didn't fall into either category since I didn't decide on the name until the baby was born. I shared my "short list" with anyone who was interested, so I could gauge the reactions. Did people with well-named babies wrinkle their noses? (Might be time to re-think the list.) Did people with poorly-named babies wrinkle their noses? (Hooray! My choices must be good ones!)

Also, there was always a chance that someone might come up with a good suggestion.

By Alr as guest (not verified)
January 29, 2010 4:37 PM

That's why I love this group of NE's! DH and I are total keepers, but I did want to hear feedback so that we didn't choose a name in a vacuum... so, I came here! This way, I got feedback but still got to keep our top choices a secret from the majority of folks we know.

For us, part of the decision not to broadcast names is because there is far too much "name claiming" going on with our ever growing family. One sister-in-law in particular has already "claimed" 3 boy names and 3 girl names - in case, of course, she winds of with 3 of either gender. In my opinion, this is silly. She may change her mind, and even if she doesn't she will never use all 6 names... yet I am forbidden (by penalty of eternal family drama) to use any of them. In order to be as far from hypocritical as possible, it was important to us that we not tell people which names we liked. And since we didn't know the gender, we would have had to "claim" both a boy and girl name... one of which we wouldn't actually be using. Too messy for my taste - I'd rather keep it a special decision between my husband and I.

January 29, 2010 4:40 PM

With our first son, Lincoln, we chose to tell everyone his name. It was a name we thought sounded handsome and was at the time very uncommon. Tragically, he ended up being stillborn at 38 weeks. Part of me wanted to change his name to something really meaningful, but all our family and friends were already calling him Lincoln and at least felt connected with him in that way, and I couldn't bear the thought of taking away one of the only connections they had to him by changing his name.

With our second son, we decided to keep his name a secret for different reasons. 1)We liked the idea of the surprise factor. 2) My family and extended family is full of kids with names such as Jaelynn, Kaylee, Kelsey, McKenzie...every trendy name you can imagine. And since we like very uncommon, older, non-trendy names, we knew our family wouldn't like the names we were considering. But we also knew that whatever we chose, they might not like it at first, but once they got to know our son, they would love the name b/c they would associate it with him. 3) Like Laura mentioned, everyone knew we were having a boy and even the date and time we were scheduled for a c-section, so we needed to have something for ourselves. 4) On the small chance we changed our minds at the last minute and opted for a different name, we wanted to be at liberty to go with that name.

We did give a few close friends and family a list of names we had initially narrowed it down to (that included Solomon of course) so they could get a feel for what we were considering and so we could hear their feedback b/c that is important to us to an extent. Like Laura mentioned, I didn't want to name our son Solomon if there was some family secret of my grandma being left by a drunkard with that name or something. :)

With our next pregnancy, we will do the same thing as we did with Solomon, though we will most likely even keep the sex of the baby a secret, even if we end up finding out ourselves.

By Alr as guest (not verified)
January 29, 2010 4:41 PM

Interesting story that goes along with this topic - I have a sister-in-law who is expecting a girl, due in April, and they've decided on the name Avery. They are very much "broadcasters," but they only broadcast the name once chosen (not other top choices or ideas for both genders before the u/s, etc.) Well she has a good friend, a "keeper", who just gave birth to her baby girl and named her Avery. I guess we'll never know if the keeper had chosen Avery before my sis-in-law broadcasted it... in either case, sis-in-law is still using it.

By keeper (not verified)
January 29, 2010 4:43 PM

i was a keeper. i didn't want people saying, "i dated someone with that name and she was mean/dumb/etc." i chose an unusual name that people either love or hate...and i liked keeping it a surprise :)

By Amy3
January 29, 2010 5:28 PM

Dh and I were total keepers. I think the only change I'd make to that if I were to have a 2nd baby is I would share my thoughts in this forum. I'd get great feedback, but still keep the name a secret from friends IRL and family. I count myself as someone who is too sensitive to hear negative feedback and still feel confident using a name I love that others have knocked.

That said, I love it when people share their choices ahead of time (or, better yet, their list of names under consideration), but I'm understanding when they choose not to.

I don't agree that naming in advance is a bad idea in case something goes wrong. I think having a name could be very beneficial to healing, and I suspect many people who have not chosen a name might select one under those circumstances to create an identity for that child.

And I guess I just wasn't worried enough about potential family skeletons to divulge our choices to anyone in either family. Luckily that worked out for us!

January 29, 2010 5:00 PM

I had a friend tell me she was pregnant around 10 weeks. Her son was about 3 and said he wanted a brother. I asked what he would do if it was a girl. He said "call her Sophie". I laughed and said I bet there are 4 Sophies in his class and that's where he got that. My friend looked at me confused and said that was her name if it was a girl.

It did end up being a girl and it took everything I had not to say how many little Sophies I knew every single time she referred to Sophie in utero. I was struggling with the idea I should warn her as it wasn't "too late" but she obviously had made up her mind.

By Jillc (not verified)
January 29, 2010 5:26 PM

We are definitely keepers. We told the gender with both kids, but kept the final names and the short-list names a secret (even going so far as making the grandparents come to meet the baby before spilling the name). This time, the gender is a secret as well (including to us).

Part of it is about keeping our options open, but mostly we don't want anyone's opinion (except maybe you NEs if we are still at an impasse for a girl's name in a couple more months!).

This actually led to a happy family name coincidence with our DS: we named him Oliver Randolph, fn because we liked it and mn after DH's grandpa Randy. Only later did we find out that Randolph was Grandpa's middle name; his first name was Oliver.

January 29, 2010 5:28 PM

Margit, yikes! I had to laugh when I read your story. It sounds like something I would do.

I have to agree with everyone who says it can help the healing process when you have a name chosen already, and you end up losing a child. In my case, it did help me tremendously. Like I mentioned above, in the hospital, part of me wanted to change Lincoln's name to something with a meaning like "Loved by God" since the meaning of Lincoln is "lake, pool". But now when I look back on it, I have more perspective, and I am SO glad I didn't change his name. I talked to him a lot during pregnancy, and I called him by his name. And when I look back now, I could associate no other name with the memory of all his kicks, late-night hiccups, etc. And I certainly don't regret telling everyone his name when I was pregnant b/c they were able to have that much of a bond with him, too.

By Momtoalmost4 (not verified)
January 29, 2010 5:36 PM

I came here to test the water for name advice instead of friends/family. Mostly because I've found that once you name the baby, people love it anyway.

Case in point: We have one daughter, Eliza, when coming up with her name we asked family their thoughts. My sister HATED it. Teased me about it, etc. We couldn't come up with anything else we liked and once we saw her, she was totally an Eliza. So we used it anyway. I was seriously nervous to call and tell my sister. Who in the end, said "It's perfect!" and seems to have forgotten ALL the stress she caused me!

Since then, we've been keepers. Though, we do share a list of a few just to test the waters. It has nixed a few names with family members sharing something about our family history we didn't know or rhyming it with something we hadn't thought of. But in the end, we won't tell until she makes her debut. Hopefully soon!

By Anna S (not verified)
January 29, 2010 5:40 PM


(There is more than one way to do it--actually the motto of the computer programming language Perl, but strangely fitting in this context also).

I think our personal solutions to keeping vs broadcasting are tailored to our situation, our families etc., and the same solution may not even apply to the next child.

Some of the examples and the reasoning in the original post bother me a little bit. If you are a keeper because you are afraid of negative comments, keeping may help you escape the problem, but not fix it. Who says Aunt Snooty is going to forever hold her tongue if she really preferred Susan over Sarah? Similarly, if there is indeed an awkward Amelia issue in the family history completely unbeknownst to the expecting parents, is it really something that should make them second-guess their choices?

By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
January 29, 2010 5:55 PM

We are definitely 'broadcasters'. We had names picked for both sexes before we got pregnant and once we got to a place we felt was 'safe' this pregnancy we shared them with people who asked. Lincoln for a boy, Marcail for a girl. We got our fair share of "What made you pick THAT?"s for both names but Husband and I had our minds made up so we ignored them.
I personally felt it would be easier to deal with the naysayers now and maybe be a little annoyed that people think they get to have a say than REALLY annoyed or hurt when we got the negative comments once the baby was here.

By LEW (not verified)
January 29, 2010 6:05 PM

I guess it just doesn't bother me that other friends/family might not like our names. For example, my grandmother asked if we had started thinking about names yet. I told her that Alice was at the top of our list for a girl right now. She said, "Well, what if you make that Allison?" I had no problem saying, "No, actually we don't care for Allison. Alice fits us much better." And that was enough to make the point.

If we love the names enough, just the two of us, than that's what matters and the naysayers don't bother us.

January 29, 2010 6:14 PM

We were perfectly in the middle... we announced the baby's sex at 20 weeks.. a girl. We shared some names we were mulling over with close family and friends. We didn't finally chose a name though until a few hours after our daughter was born.. so everyone was surprised when we announced her name Chelsea.

January 29, 2010 6:26 PM

I love everyone's stories especially Jillc and daisy_kay! I think as an addendum to the broadcaster/keeper title we should have the advice giver/quiet nodder. Do you tell people what you think of their name choices, or just nod and say "that's interesting"? Again, as Anna S noted: TIMTOWTDI!

By hyz
January 29, 2010 6:32 PM

I think the thing about telling nebby people beforehand rather than telling them after the birth is that beforehand they are more likely to feel that it is acceptable (nay, their responsibility! lol) to give honest (i.e. negative) feedback.

I think this is especially the case if you give your short list, because people feel more free to make negative comments about some of your choices if they can cushion them with nice comments about your other choices. So if I say, "oh, our top 3 right now are June, Sylvia, and Adele," I could easily imagine my mom saying, "ew, Sylvia is awful, you don't want to do that to a kid. I knew a girl named Sylvia when I was growing up and she had poor hygiene. It just sounds unattractive. You should definitely go with June, or I guess Adele might be ok. You know what would be really great, though? Anastasia. It's much prettier than the names you mentioned--you should really consider it. Maybe you could call her Anastasia June." Well, what's the benefit in that? First, Sylvia might be our current top choice, my mom's grade school acquaintance notwithstanding, so now all that happens is that I'm irritated with her, and she's said something negative she can't take back about the probable name of her future grandchild. Second, if we pick Sylvia (or possibly anything other than Anastasia), she's going to feel like we are ignoring her explicit input. Third, I really think the "give an inch and they'll take a mile" adage applies here. It's hard for some people to understand that you're just sharing your thoughts, not looking for active input, even if you are very clear about your intent.

I think I could tell friends and expect more tact (they wouldn't feel like they had as much riding on the decision), but I think our parents would be upset if they ever found out we told friends about the name before we told them, so it just doesn't seem worth it.

January 29, 2010 6:38 PM

Zoerhenne, If someone asks for my opinion on a name they are considering, I will give them my honest opinion. I don't put it bluntly if I didn't like the name, but I say something like, "It's not my personal style of name, but you have to go with what is right with you." That is unless there's something that I think personally needs pointed out about a name. For example, my step-sister is pregnant with a girl and asked what I thought about Trinity Ivy. Since their surname begins with a T, I asked whether she had looked at the initials (T.I.T.), which she hadn't. (Note: Initials don't generally bother me, but something like this...). So they've changed the middle name.
If someone doesn't ask for my opinion but tells me they've decided on such-and-such name, I don't feel it my place to tell them my opinion if I don't like it. Instead I'll say something like, "How exciting to have a name picked out!"

By Kristen R. (not verified)
January 29, 2010 6:45 PM

That's almost exactly what I do! I tell a couple of close friends (with children) the names I'm considering. I also warn my mom if we're considering a name I know she hates, so that she can adjust. But otherwise we're keepers. We don't choose out-there names where we're scared people close to us will hate the name, it's more that I don't want the tepid responses ("Oh, yeah, I guess that's a nice name"), or the irrelevant negative responses ("Oh, I knew a bully in third grade with that name"), or the assumption that this means we want lots of suggestions (that we have to keep turning down).

By Bea Dee (not verified)
January 29, 2010 7:01 PM

We were keepers, for the most part. We shared some of our finalists to some friends of ours, but we didn't tell any of our family members because we didn't care to hear their opinions. Now, if they don't like Miriam's name, at least I'll never hear about it. :)

We also chose a middle name after my grandmother, so we wanted that to be a surprise!

By BN obsessed (not verified)
January 29, 2010 7:16 PM

I relate to the ones that said they are more keepers because they didn't want opinions. I wouldn't mind opinions, just not necessarily from random people I know. My first two, Adelaide and Rockwell, aren't the most common, so I knew there would be some that would love it and some that would scoff. And I didn't really want to hear it. This time however (on to #3) I have been telling, and I'm not sure I'm crazy about the ooohs and ahhhs, mixed in with the scowl here and there.
Speaking of, since I follow this blog and your comments religiously (for the last 4 years or so) I trust, and would like your opinion.
For #3, I want a name that still keeps with the older feel of Rockwell and Adelaide, but almost with a little more pep, to avoid pulling the already named names into the 'dowdy' category. (I hope that makes sense)
I know that the two picks we have are becoming much more popular - which I tend to veer from - I still really like them. But here they are, and if anyone has more suggestions I'm more than open...

By Bridget (not verified)
January 29, 2010 7:40 PM

I'm definitely a keeper. I don't do it necessarily because I think everyone in my family will hate the name. I just don't want to know all their weird associations with it. I don't care if your second-grade neighbor's dog was named such-and-such, or if you once had a friend named such-and-such and she smelled like tunafish. If I present you a newborn with such-and-such a name, that becomes your new reference point (if we're close family, anyway) and that way I never have to hear about your neighbor's dog.

Besides, broadcasters run the risk of having someone steal the name before their baby is born.

January 29, 2010 7:45 PM

Well when we were pregnant with our first, my partner told his mom that we were strongly thinking of using Unity if we had a girl. His mom didn't like her association with Unity Mitford and kept calling us up to suggest other names we might like. Well, our child is named Unity and Grandma hasn't said a word since but when I was pregnant with #2 and people asked me about names, I would say "Here's the rules. If you don't like it, don't tell me. Ok, we're considering...." That way people knew to keep their negative comments to themselves.

It's funny to me that so many people are keepers about names and tellers of the baby's sex. We told some people the short list for names but kept the sex a surprise, even for us. I agree that "If everybody already knows the ultrasound sex reading, the date of your scheduled c-section, and the name, what's left to announce?" and even though I sadly had to have a scheduled C-section, we didn't tell anyone the date so we could still say, "guess what? We had our baby, and his name is Brixton!"

By nmab
January 29, 2010 7:49 PM

I have been reading this blog for a while, but this is my first comment. I have been interested in names for a long time - bought my first name book as a teenager, and did not have any children until my 30's! I have two sons, not having any more kids. We knew my second son was a boy at the ultrasound. My dh and I debated alot of names, and wanted to honor his deceased mother, whose name bagan with a J. We settled on James, and my family hated it. (We are Jewish and as mentioned in the last post, James is not a typically Jewish name.) We got alot of flack. James was and is the name closest to my dh's mother's name (Jol@ne). We eventually decided to make it my son's middle name. Wish I had this website back then. (He is now 8). If I were to have the occassion to name another child, I would be very cautious to whom I would broadcast the name.

On the other hand, when people tell me the name they picked, I just nod and say that is a nice name. Sometimes I ask why they picked the name. If they pick a name they think is "different" and I know it's not (thanks to this website) I let them know they may want to reconsider! :)

January 29, 2010 8:03 PM

We broadcast the first names, but were keepers on the middle names. (It did take us quite a bit longer to decide on the first name for our son than it had for our daughter, so the broadcast happened later.) We also had a somewhat geeky but fun theme for middle names - both kids have middle names that are also the name of a star. My daughter's middle name is also a reasonably common name, while my son's is pretty much unheard of except as the star.

My daughter loves the planetarium (my son is not old enough to understand yet), and always tells the presenter about "her" star.

January 29, 2010 8:10 PM

As someone with no kids (and who doesn't plan on having any for many years) I feel like I would tell people (close friends and family--close family, my parents, not my third cousin who I met once when I was ten) a short list but keep the final one a secret (maybe not to my parents... but who knows.) I also agree with what daisy_kay said about giving an opinion. I would only give one if asked.

@ BN obsessed: I put Adelaide, Rockwell, Piper, and Ruby into Nymbler and I think the following might be good:
Ada (too close to Adelaide?)

*=Top 200
**=Top 100

By silverly (not verified)
January 29, 2010 8:15 PM

My SIL and her husband kept their name choices a secret and chose to not find out the sex of their baby. Sure, it made it more exciting when she was in labor, to wait and find out the sex and name... But it also made it hard for the rest of us to feel as bonded to the baby. We obviously don't get to feel the baby kick or rub her belly. In holding back the name choices and sex, we knew nothing about the baby.

Also... They had a boy. Because they didn't share their name choices, my husband and I unknowingly choose the same name as their girl name for our baby, born five months later. Because they didn't share their choices, they lost the name they liked for a future girl. Had we known their choice of a girl name, we would not have chosen it for our baby.

In contrast, my other SIL found out the sex of her baby, shared lots of ultrasound pictures, and shared the name a month before she was due. I was in love with her baby before she was born.

January 29, 2010 8:26 PM

We're kind of in the middle also. We found out the sex of both of our sons and in this pregnancy as well and we told our close family and friends which eventually ended up spreading through word of mouth. With our first son we were torn between Judah and Jacob (I wasn't as turned off by popularity back then) and I loved the nickname Cubby. We shared our short list with family and close friends and found out that my DHs good friend was planning on using Yakov/Jacob and my SIL, who was pregnant (though due after me) had it on her short list also, which basically made the decision for me, and I'm sooo glad we chose Judah looking back on it. With pregnancy # 2 we kept the names very quiet and I really only discussed them with my two sisters and SILs, one of which was also pregnant at the time. We're pretty early in pregnancy 3 at the moment and I've only discussed names here and with my sisters once again. I cant remember who said it up thread but I also really love getting input from here, it's totally refreshing.

By Anna S (not verified)
January 29, 2010 8:32 PM

Zoerhenne - I think I've learned to be a lot more considerate with respect to stating my opinion on other people's name choices. I guess previously it just didn't occur to me that my opinion (i.e. personal taste) could hurt someone else, because it never worked that way for me. As in "oh, you don't like my blue shirt. Well, I like it, and you're not wearing it, so...?!". Nowadays I don't say much more than "aw, that's nice" unless I am asked specifically. I would mention it if something is really off (like daisy_kay's T.I.T. example) but that's about it.

BTW, TIMTOWTDI is pronounced Tim Toady ;-)

By Anna S (not verified)
January 29, 2010 8:51 PM


Just curious - how would you feel about your new niece if your name-sharing SIL had changed her mind at the last moment? If you were expecting to meet little Kate but was introduced to Isabella instead? What if the ultrasound pictures had been slightly blurred in the wrong places and Kate turned out to be a William?

By val_vh (not verified)
January 29, 2010 9:12 PM

For my last child, I put a name poll on our family blog, so the extended family could 'vote' on their favorites, and also see our top choices.

I have no problem with my siblings using my babynames for their kids. I think it is kind of fun that my daughter has a cousin with the same middle name.

January 29, 2010 9:56 PM

I'm definitely a keeper! Not that I have any children yet, but I know that I'm not going to broadcast the name. In fact I can see myself not even deciding the name until after the baby is born. I'm very much a 'the baby has to fit the name person.' So I couldn't imagine locking in a name and broadcasting it before the birth. I would ideally like to have a shortlist and then decide sometime after the birth.

I would perhaps discuss some of the options with close friends, but only ones who have similar taste to me. Most of my friends don't. Most of my friends also have no clue on name popularity, despite having several children. They constantly name their children top 10 names and then whinge about it later (even child # 2,3 and 4 when you think they would know better.

I would like to maybe discuss names with my family, but they can't keep a secret to save themselves so it would ruin the surprise for everyone.

I have several friends who lock in a name before birth and tell everyone. To me it does ruin the magic a bit. I prefer the friends who discuss options and look for sensible opinions. Now that is fun!

I will definitely be coming here for advice on names, as it's a very useful place to discuss all things names. As far as giving comments on other peoples names, well I usually try to say something positive even if I don't like it. I do agree that finding out why someone is considering the name is a good idea, so you can point out things like popularity or weird associations, in a polite way, to give them a heads up.

January 29, 2010 10:31 PM

Yes, daisy_kay and Chimu I would hope that I come off as being polite when I comment about people's name choices. I was just curious what others do because I find it's hard NOT to comment being so addicted to names. As an example, a receptionist in my doctors office is pregnant (due soon) and I asked if she knew what she was having and if she had names picked out. I guess to some that would seem nosy. She didn't seem to mind though and replied she was having a boy and the top name was Noah. I told her it was a very nice name but getting a bit common and that led into a small name discussion. I hope that she enjoyed the conversation and I'm sure she named the child whatever she and her dh felt like. Whenever I offer name comments it's just because the topic fascinates me, not because I hope you change your mind and pick the name I suggested. The same is true on here.

January 29, 2010 10:33 PM

BN obsessed-I like the suggestions that A Rose came up with. I will second Stella and Cecelia. I don't think Piper or Ruby work as well in keeping with the old-time theme because they are now becoming more popular.

By Jodi Y. (not verified)
January 29, 2010 10:44 PM

With our four girls, we've definitely been somewhere in the middle. The "trusted circle" approach probably sums it up best. Really what it boils down to is that there are some people I will *not* discuss names with (my dad's whole family is always on the offensive when I'm pregnant to make sure we're not still considering Angus for a boy like we were with #2), but anyone else who presses hard enough will probably get a short list out of me.

We never find out the gender, and usually on top of that we don't have an easy time agreeing ourselves, so there is never a simple "This-for-a-boy-that-for-a-girl" scenario to broadcast even if we wanted to.

My hubby would definitely be a keeper if it were totally up to him, but since he's not so into name discussions as I am, he's happy to let me have my "circle" to bear the brunt of the name-bouncing process. The fewer names I present to him, the happier he is.

With our last baby, I actually got interviewed by a local paper about baby names while I was pregnant (through a shout-out Laura posted here, actually). It was a fun opportunity and will make a great little keepsake for our daughter, but I don't think we really appreciated at the time that our girl name would be publicly announced less than a week before she was born. Publicly, like, friends I hardly ever see were calling and saying their moms saw us in the paper - eek! It was really fine though. It was close enough to when she was born that I didn't deal with much fallout from her name (Juniper) because I was too busy delivering her :)

As far as being on the receiving end, broadcasters really are anticlimactic for me. I always want to know at the time, but when the birth rolls around, it definitely steals a lot of the thunder. Also, my cousin was one who felt trapped by having announced early. She wanted to change from Leah to Lydia late in her pregnancy, but caved to family pleas of "But her name is Leah!"

On the other hand, I was also a little disappointed recently by a couple of friends who were staunch "keepers", or at least their husbands were. Sure the announcement is super exciting, but I feel like I missed out by not having at least a glimpse of the discussions along the way. Don't they know I live for that kind of stuff?!

By Kristin W. (not verified)
January 29, 2010 11:21 PM

I'm a natural broadcaster - just can't seem to keep a secret about anything! I was given the advice to wait to announce the name until after the baby is born, but I just don't think I'm capable of waiting that long! As for the "there's nothing left to announce" thing - that's not something that bothers me. Seeing what the baby looks like, and the first photos (as someone above mentioned) are enough of a surprise.

I want to be able to call her by her name as long as possible beforehand. We've finally settled on a first name, and she is already taking shape so much more in my imagination. If other family members find the announcement less exciting when the baby's born because they already know the name/gender/etc., so what?

By hyz
January 29, 2010 11:34 PM

BN obsessed, I think Ruby goes very nicely with your other two and accomplishes the goal you're talking about--it is old-fashioned but popular enough now that it brings out the other names' hip side rather than playing up their starchy side. If you love it, I think you should go with it. Piper doesn't work quite as well for me, because it does seem much more modern than Ruby. I think both of your older kids' name are very cool, though. I might be inclined to go a little "dowdier" than either Ruby or Piper, personally--maybe something like Rosalind or Virginia. I like the length of those with your other kids' names, too--if those are too dowdy for you, I also think something playful but a little longer could be great, like Clementine, Mathilda, or Eloise.

By keeper (not verified)
January 30, 2010 12:00 AM

another reason why i was a keeper: in case my peers liked the unique name, i didn't want there to be more than one of her in her class. it worked bc i don't know any other girls with her name!

By smismar (not verified)
January 30, 2010 12:32 AM

I was 99.9% sure my daughter was going to be "Vivian". I loved the name and I thought I had dh convinced and we were on our way. Then he told his parents when I was about 33 weeks, and they, um, changed his mind for him. Grrrrrr! I actually threw a (large) baby name book at him LOL! Well, once we had decided the new name, I wasn't about to let THAT happen again, so we held on to the name until she was born. Good thing, too. When FIL found out we'd chosen "Sylvia" after she arrived, he threw a minor tantrum and then listed at least 10 more names that he deemed as better. She's still Sylvia and I can't imagine another name for her :)

By Pippi (not verified)
January 30, 2010 1:42 AM

I'm definitely a keeper! We didn't tell anyone our daughter's name until she was born. We don't like to make a definite choice, though, until after the baby is born. And if she had been a boy we'd probably still be deciding (she's 2).

That said, I'm gong to broadcast here! My daughter's name is Linne@ Krist!n. For a girl we're thinking of:

Annelise (definitely the front-runner as far as I'm concerned)
Kaya (or Kaia)
Malena was a favorite last time around, but it sounds too much like Linnea.

For a boy we have:


It is the one and only name my husband sort of likes. He used to like Magnus and then decided he didn't. I really Caleb but he doesn't. We both like Andreas, but our last name starts with an S so we had to rule it out.

Any thoughts fellow name explorers?