Why Your Baby Name Choice Is Making You Miserable

Mar 21st 2012

Back when I was writing the first edition of The Baby Name Wizard, the phrase "namer's remorse" never entered my mind. Choosing a name was supposed to be one of the most joyous parts of pregnancy, a chance to look ahead and dream of the new family member to come. Yet in the years since, words like "angst" and "remorse" have cropped up more and more in baby-name talk. Post-naming regrets have become a regular feature in my inbox, and a popular question subject from reporters, too.

Is this just a trendy discussion topic, or is the baby-naming blues really on the rise?

I believe it's the latter. The process of choosing a baby name has genuinely become more stressful, and namer's remorse is indeed more common than ever before. It was inevitable. In the past generation, baby names have become an ideal breeding ground for anxiety, decision paralysis, and regret.

The core problem is what psychologist Barry Schwartz has called "the paradox of choice." Choice is freedom, and we expect that freedom to make us happy by allowing us to follow a path custom-selected to suit us best. In practice, though, an abundance of choice not only makes our decisions harder, it turns out to make us miserable.

The more choices we have, the higher our expectations rise. With a vast array of options, we feel that careful selection should lead us to a perfect choice. The decision process drags on. We agonize. Sometimes the pressure of choosing is just too much; we end up paralyzed by our options, and choose nothing. Even when we do choose, we usually discover that perfection remains an elusive goal. Thus even a very good choice can leave us feeling disappointed.

Then there's the road not taken. So very many roads. It's hard to feel comfortable with the choice you've made when the missed opportunities still swarm around you. Perhaps a neighbor makes a different choice, one you had considered but rejected. Did they choose better? If so, you have only yourself to blame.

Angst. Paralysis. Regret. Sound familiar?

This choice-induced misery is usually described as a side effect of societal affluence. Consumer choices explode, giving us hundreds of shampoos or coffee makers to choose from. But baby names are, and have always been, free. Can there really be an explosion of choices in a realm with no costs, where the menu of options is in your mind, not on the shelves?

Absolutely. More on this tomorrow.

On to part 2!


By Malimar (not verified)
March 21, 2012 9:37 PM

It occurs to me that part of this phenomenon (though probably not as big a part as the increasing number of options) may be that people are having fewer children these days than they used to.

In the olden days, if you like more than one name, well, just stick one on the first kid, you'll have an opportunity to use all the others within a few years, no big deal.

Nowadays, if you're lucky, you'll get to use one or two names at most, and all the others will just go to waste, so you'd better be sure the one you went with is really your favourite.

March 21, 2012 9:57 PM

Malimar I think that is true.
A couple other points about Laura's post that came to mind.
-I heard a quote once that "to not make a choice IS to make a choice" so the kid is going to have a name. Whether or not it is the right one is left to be determined.

-Paralyzed by my options was definitely how I felt with my daughter. I had a whole list to review after she was born.

-I don't think that choosing a name is "without cost". I think there are some names that will always elicit teasing or negative comments. If your surname is Boats then don't name your child Rowan.

-The road not taken will always plague humans. That's what makes us human. The ability to choose and reason is amazing. Know that you did the best that you could have done IN THAT MOMENT when you made that choice.

By sigh (not verified)
March 21, 2012 10:35 PM

I've got it. Wish I could shake this awful, awful feeling that we got it wrong. :(

By Jane 7 (used to be Jane 6) (not verified)
March 21, 2012 10:55 PM

It's not just that the number of choices has increased. It's that people are rejecting traditional names and choosing trendy names instead. Those names have a self life of, sometimes, only a few months. On the one hand, a name like Edward or John or Thomas has the potential to seem boring. On the other hand, I've never met someone who regretted using one of those names.

By Lolatron (not verified)
March 21, 2012 11:08 PM

Whew! So glad I don't regret my choice. We've had boy and girl names picked out for years so when we finally had our first baby 4 months ago there was no question about his name. I think we'll feel the same for girls. Problem will be if we have another boy - we have no more really big favorites on that front! :-S

By Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm (not verified)
March 21, 2012 11:09 PM

I love Eleanor's name, but part of me still wonders what she'd be like if we'd gone with our first choice name. I think that if we ever have another girl though, she might get that name, so my slight regret may be solved. And it's not really a regret per se, more of a faint wondering...

By Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm (not verified)
March 21, 2012 11:10 PM

Also, I haven't been around in a while...and just noticed that Jane 6 is now Jane 7! Can I ask what number 7's name is? :)

By Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm (not verified)
March 21, 2012 11:10 PM

Also, I haven't been around in a while...and just noticed that Jane 6 is now Jane 7! Can I ask what number 7's name is? :)

By Sabby (not verified)
March 21, 2012 11:17 PM

I don't regret my first son's name, but I wish I knew it was so popular. I didn't know any kids. I also didn't factor in other spellings. However, it is meaningful to me & he loves it. I just wonder if I had to do it again I wonder if I would choose the same name.

By Been there (not verified)
March 21, 2012 11:34 PM

This happened with our second daughter. We had used the perfect name for our first, so the pressure was on. I chose wrong. Because I had no real alternative my hubby wouldn't let me change it. So after agonizing over it for three months, I asked my then 3 year old what she thought about calling her sister by her middle name, she readily agreed (you see, she was the author of her baby sisters first name). We have called her by her middle name ever since. Six years later I have no regrets. Though choosing names for our subsequent children have felt much more overwhelming. Siblings, also no longer have a say.

March 21, 2012 11:55 PM

Jane 7, I too haven't been around for awhile and remember when you were "Jane (mother of 5)". which included your soon-to-be-born twins. And then there was your 6th baby, 5th boy -- giving you John, Charlie, the twins Patrick and Jamie and then Joshua -- as I recall -- as well as your daughter Anne Juliet, called Juliet. Did I get the names right??? And now #7... (we need a drum roll for that announcement!).

I agree that it seems that one is less likely to later regret choosing a solid, traditional name. With the newer names, if you choose one for it's uniqueness, you'll most likely be disappointed when you hear of another baby or two with YOUR baby's name and/or the name will sound like a has-been before your child reaches middle school -- all the rage for a short moment in time but several years later passé. We have two generations of traditional names in our large family and I've never heard anyone express any name regrets -- other than wishing someone else hadn't used the name Henry because it would have been the perfect name for a hoped-for future baby brother of our little Jane. :-)

By Jan (not verified)
March 22, 2012 12:35 AM

I think that the weight we give names as a unique marker that reflects who we are (kind of like the super-personalized weddings of today) also gives rise to more name remorse.

And I hear that the paradox of choice is also part of the reason this generation has a harder time settling down with a spouse.

By TamaraR (not verified)
March 22, 2012 1:19 AM

Perfect timing of this post, the topic's been on my mind. Always interesting to read, thank you Laura!

Our 2nd daughter is now 16 months and really showing personality, and physically looking much different than I expected (recessive genes, there you are) ... and I've been thinking, if I had known what she'd be like, would I have chosen the same name? It wouldn't have been my top choice, but I'm ok with it, it works.

On the positive side, it gave me an excuse to read through my Baby Name Wizard yet AGAIN (I swear it's memorized by now) for the fun of wistfully thinking if I could name her NOW, what would I pick?
My 4 year old daughter saw the book out tonight and asked me to read it to her, starting with the Ch- section of the index, picked at random --- so she picked out the name SHE wishes her little sister had: Cherise Chevonne Chick!
Wouldn't happen in a million years, but I love sharing the fun with her!

By Pippa's Mama (not verified)
March 22, 2012 1:28 AM

We picked traditional yet unusual Philippa (nn Pippa) for our May 2011 baby. Being completely uninterested in royal watching, we were completely taken aback by the explosion of interest in Pippa after Ms. Middleton.

I don't regret the name at all, but it irritates me when people assume she's named after her.

March 22, 2012 6:54 AM

I really worried I would end up with namer's remorse. I had so many options to pick from and couldn't imagine narrowing it down to just one name. In the end we didn't have any trouble choosing and I'm still happy with the name 9 months on. I do think a few of our other choices would have worked just as well though.

We didn't name Astrid for a couple of days and in that time we discarded half our list. I think those names still wouldn't work even though she looks quite different now to what she did at birth. There are probably only 2 or 3 names on the list I can see her as.

I think the biggest worry is the names I'll never get to use. I will probably have 1 more baby, maybe 2, but many names will never get a look in. Maybe in 5 years I will have name regrets for names not taken, but for now there is still the option of using them down the track. Of course I can always use some of my favourite names on pets or computer hard drives if I feel the need!

By Blythe (nli) (not verified)
March 22, 2012 7:56 AM

'Can there really be an explosion of choices in a realm with no costs, where the menu of options is in your mind, not on the shelves?'

Such an excellent question, and such a part of why I find names fascinating. Cannot wait for the other half of this discussion tomorrow. This is why I read this blog!

By BNF (not verified)
March 22, 2012 8:21 AM

I had nicknamer's remorse, but I got over it. We named Cecilia (Aug '11) with the idea of calling her Ceci (Seh-see, not seesee) and while my hubby and his family took it and ran, it never easily flowed from my mouth. I tried various versions, Cesa, Cela, Celia, etc, but I found that I am most comfortable saying Cecilia- the whole thing. And my dad calls her Celia (with the southernness of Ce-ya). And others pronounce it Ceceya. Okay, whatever. She'll respond to a million different things. Everyone in her life has a special name: Mama, Dad, Papa, Tio...so why can't each of them call her something different as well? Something between each of them and her.
So, as you can see, I've gotten over my NNer's remorse and I think that parents will get over their Namer's remorse if they just give it time.

By livi (not verified)
March 22, 2012 9:01 AM

Another reason for namer's remorse could be how judgmental (and vocal) other people are about names. It seems like everybody has an opinion and they aren't all positive.

By Jessi Ronan's Mum (not verified)
March 22, 2012 9:38 AM

I actually had someone ask if I regretted naming Ronan who is now 6 and I said no and then she said "I guess you get a lot of blank stares though eh"
I assume like the one I was giving her a that very moment.

By Moving On (not verified)
March 22, 2012 10:51 AM

I don't really have namer's remorse but I do wish my son's name wasn't quite so "on trend" Starts with B, ends with N, X in the middle. It's not very popular in itself but it's similar to lots of other names that are popular right now. But the names we chose have strong meanings for us and I'm happy with them. My husband and I both had classic names, were one of many many with the same name and hated it.

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
March 22, 2012 11:10 AM

this may be an unpopular opinion, especially here on a baby name blog and maybe because I'm not at a place yet where I am even close to thinking about naming babies but I think naming remorse is something that is a bit self-indulgent. I think it's because we take ourselves too seriously these days. A name is a name, it's not the end of the world unless we make it out to be. There are much worse things in the world.

Unless you named your kid Pineapple and then actually thank heavens realize it's a bad name, then you can legitimately feel remorseful but only because you were silly enough to name your child Pineapple. But if you named her Selena but want Sarah instead... is it really that big a deal?

Perhaps the reason people didn't worry so much about naming their kids back in the day was because they knew the likelihood of them living past infancy was pretty slim - so they worried more about being able to provide nutrition and shelter instead.

I love love love names, don't get me wrong I think they are important and can have lots of meaning - socially and individually, but I think you can love names, and love discussing sounds and etymology and styles but be free from baby name remorse if there is prioritization of what's most important.

In the end, it could be your favourite name in the world, that you and your partner love so so much, and your child ends up hating any way.

By Melanie1 (not verified)
March 22, 2012 11:24 AM

Wasn't there a blog post awhile ago saying that names do mean more now then before. I remember an analogy to what people wear when there is no dress code telling more about a person then when everyone wears the similar clothes. So, real or imagined, there is more emphasis put on picking the "right" name and therefore more pressure on parents. This means we obsess more in the naming process and I think that makes it easier to regret our choices. I also think that having less kids does affect it a little bit as Maimar pointed out. I could see regretting not naming Thomas Henry more if his younger brother hadn't been given that name. By the time our fourth boy came around we had many imagined rules for what the name had to be if it was going to fit in. There weren't many choices left to consider or regret. Any names I regret are all the girl names I didn't get to use.

By guest1 (not verified)
March 22, 2012 12:46 PM

my sister is thinking of naming her son Amadeus and everyone is making all sorts of comments about how she's going to regret it. she has a really common name and so does her husband so i guess that's why they're going for different. its not really a name that can be shortened in any good way. i'm kinda whatever about it though i know my sister's friends and my mom are all really bothered by it. any thoughts? i'm not sure if I should suggest she rethink it, or just go with it? is it really far out and awful? or is it just unique? i want to hear opinions

March 22, 2012 1:00 PM

Chimu-Has it really been nine months already?

For all those asking about Jane (since she is obviously busy and hasn't chimed in yet) go back 2 threads. She is only just expecting her 7th.

March 22, 2012 2:45 PM

I think this post is spot on. Like many readers here, I've been following names and naming-trends for some time. But when it came time to name our now 3 month old baby girl, I felt simply paralyzed. Information overload. We ended up deciding on an uncommon but simple word name for her. I still love the name, but I wonder if I'm going to tire of anticipating a reaction (or fielding one) every time I introduce her. More importantly, will she tire of it? I've decided I just need to relax and stop over-thinking it since the name seems to fit her, and I can't think of any other I would rather have used.

I must object to the idea that no one could ever regret a "classic" name choice. First off, I'm suspicious of the idea of a perfectly stable naming canon. Aren't our perceptions of all names more influenced by trends and current culture than we think? But also, I think classics-only namers probably feel fundamentally different about name choices than I do. People who value classics exclusively probably choose names for different reasons than we chose our daughter's name, and the qualities they value may be subject to less risk for them personally (but not for all namers).

We had a "safer" more traditional name picked out for our daughter that wouldn't have raised many eyebrows, but I know I would have always regretted not sticking my neck out a little bit to give her the name I loved.

By E Fin (not verified)
March 22, 2012 2:54 PM

I wonder how much of this has to do with the trend toward extreme over-parenting and, by extension, the desire to perfectly accessorize your child at birth.

When I was born in the early 1980s - and all the way up until the youngest of my cousins was born in the mid-1990s - naming choices in my family and other families we knew were based largely on an individual family's traditions. We were named in honor of loved ones, some were Jrs. Nobody got a name because someone just liked the name.

I'm expecting my first child now. I'm worried about its personality being reflected in a name, what kind of status the name might indicate, how the name makes ME sound... In other words, I'm choosing my child's first accessory. I could very well regret it just as I may regret the shoes I'm currently wearing. A far different situation from my parents, who never regretted naming me after a favorite aunt.

By Jill
March 22, 2012 4:31 PM

guest1, I don't mind Amadeus. I would think any parents considering it are aware how "out there" it is. I've met babies recently named Fuschia, Elmer, and Sun, so their choice really isn't THAT crazy in comparison :).

One thing they might want to consider is the song factor -- Laura wrote a post about it here: http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2011/10/names-that-make-you-sing.

Such an interesting discussion! @Essy01, I do agree with you to some extent. Pick a name and move on!

By mac (not verified)
March 22, 2012 5:33 PM

I felt major anxiety trying to narrow down the relatively short list of names I love to just one for my daughter. And my husband ended up picking the perfect name, one that wasn't even on my list. Georgiana's almost four months old and I love her name more every day, so I feel good about the choice. The hardest thing was committing to such a strong name stylistically, knowing that I want lots more babies! I had to kind of mourn the other potential name styles I liked and just pick one. Now, names are fun again- I may think, Love that! but it doesn't work for us. I think picking the name for our first child made naming the others easier!

March 22, 2012 10:17 PM

E Fin-I don't feel like I over parent or that my children's names are an accessory. I feel like it was our gift to them-a bit like a first doll, christening outfit, college fund, etc. Something the child can't get for itself but will hopefully cherish till the end. I suppose the differences in our beliefs make our name choices different for similar reasons. I would also love to see a graph of amount of shoes one has related to kinds of names one chooses. I'm guessing that the lesser amount of shoes one has makes the names trend more classic. I have only about 6 pairs of dress shoes along with 1 set of sneakers. My children are 3ric and N@tali3.

March 22, 2012 11:19 PM

I like zoerhenne's shoe theory. It's an interesting idea. I have 1 pair of tall boots, 2 sets of sneakers, and at least 2-3 pairs each of sandals, dress shoes, flats, slippers and ankle boots. My boys are Sebastian and Alexander (Alek). Both pretty traditional, though Sebastian's name is the "trendier" of the two (which I chose).

My youngest is Alexander, because I gave my husband naming rights for our next boy after I picked Seb's name. I nicknamed him Alek before birth, which most everyone calls him, though. However, I did lobby for the alternates Alistair and Leander, neither of which he liked. I thought Sebastian and Alistair would be a great pair. We briefly considered Octavian, but didn't like any of the nicknames. He would have agreed to Oliver, but I felt a bit guilty over reneging on our previous agreement, so Alexander he is...though the next boy will probably be Oliver (or maybe Edward or Lucian)...

March 23, 2012 8:52 AM

Sebalek-The shoe theory was based on what E Fin said in their post. "I'm expecting my first child now. I'm worried about its personality being reflected in a name, what kind of status the name might indicate, how the name makes ME sound... In other words, I'm choosing my child's first accessory. I could very well regret it just as I may regret the shoes I'm currently wearing. A far different situation from my parents, who never regretted naming me after a favorite aunt."

I don't care that much about shoes and therefore went fairly standard/traditional/top 50 on my name choices. You seem to have a few more shoes than me and chose something a little less mainstream imo. SO I think the theory still holds. Anyone else want to provide some data?

March 23, 2012 2:51 PM

I don't think the data would support the shoe theory. Here are my assumptions: Wealthier people have more shoes than poorer people. Wealthier people give more traditional names than poorer people. Hence, people who give traditional names are likely to own more shoes than people that give un-traditional names.

By Guest_2 (not verified)
March 23, 2012 4:42 PM

Thank you for this post (and the follow - up), as well as all those who have commented. I have had serious namers remorse for the past six months. Yes, six months. My daughter was born 6 weeks early and we hadn't yet found THE NAME. We had a list of possibilities (frankly the list was too long), but we thought we still had time to narrow it down and hopefully find a name that seemed to fit. My husband and I have very different naming styles, so naming is a challenge. We ended up choosing a name that had been on our 'we can agree on these' list the longest. It seeemed matchy to me with my older dd's name, but I felt it went best with the middle name (mil name and my husband felt strongly we should use her name for a middle). There was another top contender name in the hospital, that my husband liked better, but I felt paralized over choosing that name because it had been added to our list just a few days prior to birth and I just wasn't sure if I liked it as much. Well, I am guilty of doing way too much thinking/name researching AFTER naming. I love the second choice name now and have unfortunately discovered that when you add spellings/popular short forms of the name we chose, it is VERY popular...pretty darn near the top of the chart. While not considered trendy, it is referred to as 'boring and overused' on countless naming message boards. I've thought about changing her name. I've prayed about changing her name. My husband and I have prayed together about changing her name. But, we won't be changing it. My husband feels that while it was never either of our favorite names, it is now her, it is who she is. I don't feel quite the same way, and probably because I've unwisely spent so much time thinking 'what if' about the other name. He has said I could change it if I simply 'cannot live my life' with her name, but I don't feel like it's the right thing to do if he doesn't feel the pull to change it as well. I've been pretty pathetic these past months...I even think my obsession has caused a bit of depression. I've felt guilt over not choosing the name my husband liked best. I really appreciate the comment above from zoerhenne: "-The road not taken will always plague humans. That's what makes us human. The ability to choose and reason is amazing. Know that you did the best that you could have done IN THAT MOMENT when you made that choice." If you read this, thank you for saying what you did. It made me realize I really did do the best I could at that time. Sure, I should have researched far more before then, but in that moment when my dh said, 'you choose, I like this one better, but they are both good', the name I chose was the only one I could choose at that time. I couldn't choose one I wasn't comfortable with at the time, no matter how much it has grown on me now. I'd had 15 hours of sleep over the course of 5 days and dealt with the stress of having my baby in the NICU. I did the best I could. Maybe she'll be the type of kid who loves having a little club of friends with the same name! I know I'll probably still have moments when I regret the choice, but I hope to someday soon not be able to picture her with any other name...no matter how popular it is and how much I love the other name!

March 23, 2012 4:54 PM

@zoerhenne, yep she just turned 9 months, time goes so quick..........

Re the shoe theory, doesn't work for me. I own only a handful of pairs of shoes and picked a fairly unusual name.

By tonyag79 (not verified)
March 24, 2012 2:55 PM

When I had the chance to give a name to real person I chose the name I've had in mind for many years almost a dozen. When I was in my teens I liked more exotic sounding names like Yasmeen- however I am grateful that I grew out of that. It now sounds like a poor girl with a stripper name to me. And as elitist as this might sound, I did not want my child to be saddled with a name that can be stigmatized socioeconomically. I grew uo very poor with a "stripper name" and a 70's one at that. I always wanted a name that looked more appropriate on my college degree and resume. So I gave my child the name Elizabeth. Classic and can be shortened to any name she likes from it. I had inteded to call her Elle. She is ten months old and for the most part she is Miss Elizabeth. Not even plain Elizabeth. Most everyone we know calls her Miss Elizabeth. Her little personality is very regal but sweet and loving at the same time. The name fits her perfectly. A trendy exotic name would never be appropriate for her. On another note -we both love shoes, and she already shops for handbags. She's such a girly girl.

By Rue (not verified)
March 26, 2012 5:11 PM

Ah, but shoes cost money whereas a name is free. If all you can give your child is a name, it makes sense that you'd be more likely to go all out and pick a jazzy one that you think will make them (or you) stand out.

(I remember years ago, Laura writing a blog post about names like Pearl, Opal and Ruby being in fashion a hundred or more years ago. Some journalist had said that poor farmers and labourers living monotonous, pinched lives therefore gave their children these (in his view) ugly, clunky names. Laura argued the opposite - they gave their children what were then novel, trendy names evoking glittering gemstones because it was all the glamour they could afford and it represented the hopes they had for their children's futures. Hope I've paraphrased that correctly, if Laura's reading!)

March 26, 2012 7:34 PM

I guess I should have added that, while I own many pairs of shoes, I only wear two on a regular basis (3 if you count a pair of sandals in the summer). Some are date night shoes, some are left over from my pregnancy days when my feet would swell up so much none of my regular shoes fit. You get the idea.

I consider my boys' names pretty mainstream for this current crop of kiddos (they are 5 and 3 and we live in the SF bay area), Alex@nder being a top 10 and Seb@stian continuing to rise. Though perhaps with a different flavor on the "traditional/classic" scale than Er!c, though certainly similar to N@talie. Though Seb turned out to have another Sebastian in his K class and we have several friends who have also used Sebastian, though they are younger.

The choice paradox for us came down to limiting our pool to Eastern European names as my hubby is from that area of the world. Unfortunately, the only name he really liked that transliterated well in the US was Alexander, which I thought (and still think) is kinda boring and too popular. Almost none of my choices worked well here. So we expanded to names that had cross-cultural appeal, would be easy for his family to pronounce, were easy to spell in Cyrillic and were in the top 100-ish (his name is extremely rare even in his own country).

My godmother suggested (and I thought he wouldn't go for) my oldest's name b/c of my love of The Neverending Story. He agreed and so I gave him his choice (Alexander) if we had another boy, hence Alexander. Now the trick is what to do when we have our 3rd if it's a boy. A girl will probably be nearly impossible though we might actually get that Slavic name in there next time.

By ozzy (not verified)
March 27, 2012 1:47 PM


- Reminds me of a line from a Kanye West song about consumerism:

"Couldn't afford a car so she named her daughter Alexis."

It also makes me think of the trend toward nature names. Are they getting more popular among city or country dwellers. Anecdotally I can say I love nature-evoking names and am very much a city dweller.

By J.M. (not verified)
March 27, 2012 5:18 PM

I do sense that naming now carries serious branding pressures. When you name a child, you must consider the integrity of your "brand." I feel like this is what E. Fin describes when she says: "I'm worried about its personality being reflected in a name, what kind of status the name might indicate, how the name makes ME sound."

We feel partial responsibility for how our child markets himself or herself in the future.

By BW (not verified)
March 29, 2012 11:13 AM

I wonder if there's a connection between this issue and the issue of "name stealing" (see Name Lady's column today). It could go in either direction: because people feel so much pressure to choose the perfect name, they get a lot more defensive when someone else uses it. And at the same time, because individuality is so highly valued in naming these days, we've ascribed a negative moral quality (stealing) to anyone who (re)uses a name that has been "claimed" by anyone they know, anywhere.

Seems like a vicious cycle. Then, if you've either been worried about being a name thief or accused of being one, YOU'LL be extra sensitive/defensive to someone trying to use *your* name.

By femalejohn (not verified)
April 25, 2012 12:01 AM

My baby name remorse comes from the many people who ask, "Did you name her after the "Friends" episode when 'Rachael' (Jennifer Aniston) had her baby and named her Emma?  My daughter, now almost 11, was born before all the "Friends" baby hype, and when the name Emma was very rare.  There happens to be 3 Emma's in the Great-Great category on both sides of her family.  After MY Emma was born, there was a huge increase in the name, so of course, people naturally associate it.  As an aside (just my luck), my 20 yr old daughter is named Hannah, which was completely unheard of then and is now hugely popular.  Maybe I'm just a trend setter..lol


April 10, 2013 8:59 AM

For our first kid, we picked a name that very shortly afterward began to sharply rise in popularity. If I had known that we might have gone with our #2 choice, Adlai. Still really like that name. #2 kid had a last-minute pre-birth name change, and no regrets about that - he is 100% indisputably an August. It suits him up and down. The one thing I regret (aside from accidentally picking a trendy name)  is that their names don't go together well.

May 15, 2013 3:02 PM

Trust your gut! Your choice is the right one.

October 15, 2013 9:43 AM

Too many choices, too much importance on the perfect name. Should be able to wait until the kid is at least four before deciding on a name.

February 25, 2014 7:11 PM

Malimar, I agree.  I would also assert that the internet may also contribute a bit.  I feel like in the old days, if you gave your child a name, your only rubric upon which to base the name's popularity would be the immediate community around you.  Nowadays, it's easy to research ourselves into a tizzy!  Or, alternatively, a name can be relatively obscure when you choose it, but could suddenly catch fire and become a fad thanks to forums, blogs, pop culture, etc. I think having access to that info is, in a way, begging us all to over think it.  I'm in that place- a name I picked out YEARS ago (about 8-10 years ago) to name my someday-first-daughter (an underused traditional name- I have a love of "granny" names) was, in the last few years, used for characters in Despicable Me and also Downton Abbey.  Now that my husband and I are ready to have kids, I've been obsessively checking the name to make sure it doesn't yet seem to have caught on.  So, even though I love the name and have loved it for ages, I'm terrified of it becoming a fad.  Combined with what you said, my husband and I aren't planning to have more than 2 kids.  It's a tough balance, not helped by the internet's global reach for information and influence!

August 31, 2014 4:01 AM

My heart is broken. My baby just graduated from highschool and turned 18. He, as it turns out was to be my only child. Perfect in every way. Smart, handsome, strong and loved by his peers. I am so greatful that he became such a wonderful young man. My story is of heartbreak and questionable  choices. The joyous time of choosing a name was not an option. Like the article says, I made a choice  to not choose. I am sensitve, empathetic and almost to eager to be unselfish. That part of me is still here. Although we were not married until my son was 4 months old to his father, it has not been acknowledged that I was the only one that could legally choose the name to be put on his birth certificate. So it began that day. He was named after his father and grandfather which made him a 3rd. The ultimate show of respect to my husbands family and any attempt to give him a sort of nickname like Trey was shot down as soon as it was learned it was my idea. I have lived this way for my sons whole life. My mother in law, as it has rescently turned out is beyond narcassistic, she is afflicted with the worst form of Narcissistic Personality Disorder possible and their family is not aware of this. They, including my husband deny any wrong doing by her. Ofcourse, because she ensures no witnesses to her abuse to me. Now for many years of pain and just wanting to be accepted, I realize that it is not possible, she wont let her nacassistic supply have any recognition. I am lucky that I am now able to understand and am picking up my pieces and helping a few others that are close to me and now I can recognize their pain. I said I was lucky, but only in the mental health way. I have changed into a different person on the outside, but the inside is capable of anything. With that I will never show regret to my son. His name has not made him the wonder child he is, I have a big part in his growth to a beautiful person. It is oh so painful to live that way, but one look at what he has become and I recognize it as a huge reward. They no longer matter because it is so clear what does. Can you believe it has only been two weeks since I decided to be done with that. I win.

October 26, 2014 1:34 PM


I wonder if we're fixated on baby names because, of all the terrifying things in the world today a parent must face, this one is the most benign.  I'd rather think about her name than think about how I'm going to keep her safe out there…or maybe it’s because we all know that, despite our best efforts, we can’t prevent them from being bullied, or getting hurt, or just feeling the ups and downs of being human… so we try to exert some control over the one thing that we know will travel with them…maybe it’s a little like trying to wrap them in a protective spell J  


Kind regards and best wishes to all…


January 5, 2016 12:00 AM

I named my youngest daughter Rowyn Elise. Her older sister is Jocelyn Elaina. When I was first thinking of names for my second I was going through several names thst were rising in popularity (Aria and Charlotte) that I wasn't sure if I would be happy with. I had Rowan for a boy from the beginning.  I loved it when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. But for a girl I was struggling with what I liked.  I kept flip flopping back and forth. I had the name Irelyn Claire and I was IN LOVE it. But after careful obsessing I realized that all 3 names (our last name as well) were 6 letter. I would have never been happy with that even if it was something silly and I was never happy with any other spelling of Irelyn or Claire. Everyone loved the name Rowan and my coworker said she thought it would be pretty for a girl. I sat and wrote it a few times. I liked it with a y for one because it went with Jocelyn, and 2 it looked a touch more feminine to me. I decided. I like it. I'll stick with it. I decided to use Elise for her middle name because I have always liked it as well and it went with Elaina.  Well she's nearly 2 now, and a few times I have had naming remorse. I found out when she was about 9 months old my mom hated the name. It made me super upset and I thought maybe she (Rowyn) would hate me for naming her that. But as she has gotten older and her personality has blossomed, the name fits her to a T! Plus, it means red headed one and she's a redhead! Which I never expected.  Her daddy is a blonde and I have darker brown hair. Her sister is also a blonde. Now my issue with her name is mainly is that if I have another girl I have to continue the yn ending names and El middle names. Lol 

February 7, 2017 12:44 PM

I think your name is beautiful and your choice was clear and clever.  It doesn't matter if your mom likes it or not, what matters is you like it and your decision was made from the heart!

June 13, 2017 9:20 PM

I notice not very many actually say what their children's names are...I think because in this day we all want our children to have a unique name.  One of my own daughter's has a very unique name and won't even use it when ordering coffee because someone always says they are going use it and she doesn't want it to become popular.