A One-Step Recipe for Baby-Name Contentment

May 2nd 2013

I spend a lot of time trying to help you find a terrific baby name. Today, I'd like to shift focus to helping you enjoy it.

"Namer's remorse" is on the rise. Parents of infants write to me, agonized that they've made the wrong name choice. This epidemic arises from the wide-open array of name choices that today's expectant parents face. If you can choose anything -- anything -- how can you be sure you made the best possible choice? How do you even know when to stop looking?

The best time to protect yourself against namer's remorse is before you've settled on a name. At some point between brainstorming and decision making, you'll find yourself with a list. This "short list" represents the names you and your partner felt were worthy of serious consideration. The next natural step is to narrow the field by thinking of reasons to eliminate most of the names.

Don't do it.

Sure, you have to narrow your choices, but there's a better way. Go through your list, thinking about anything you particularly love about individual names. Trim your list by moving names up, not down.

Does your love of Much Ado About Nothing give the name Beatrice a special glow? Is Austin a happy reminder of college, where you first met? Do you want to say Ariella over and over because of the way it rolls off your tongue? Is the initial X in Xavier just too cool for words?

When you narrow down by finding fault, you're planting seeds of doubt about your options. If you're too successful at nit-picking, you might even end up wiping out your whole list. But when you narrow up by finding delight, you build excitement. The decision may be just as difficult, but you know your final options are wonderful. Whatever name you settle on will come with the glow of delight -- and a story you can tell yourself, as well as your child, about why her name is so special.


May 2, 2013 11:32 PM

This is great advice. When naming our first we pretty much followed this approach. Started out with a long list of names and narrowed it down to ones we were both prepared to seriously consider. We then discussed the pros and cons of each name and decided whether we were still happy for them to go on the list, and whether as a first name, middle name or either.  Once we had our short list, we didn't discuss them further and didn't seek any other opinions. We waited until our baby was born and picked 2 names from the list that we felt worked best and we loved. We did this by essentially moving names up until we had 2 names agreed that we both loved and felt worked for our baby.

It is very easy to focus on the negatives of any name but I think once you have decided it is a name that CAN work for you it is better to try and focus on the positives

May 3, 2013 10:10 AM

We are looking at our "list" tonight and will follow this...great advice!

May 3, 2013 3:08 PM

I love this advice! I don't have a baby to name, and we never really even needed a list for our daughter's name, so the specifics don't apply, but I think it can be generalized to other facets of life: don't eliminate options, move them up the list instead.

Thank you, Laura!

By momo
May 5, 2013 7:25 PM

You're absolutely right! It's better to think about the positives so you'll end up with a name you're sure you'll love. Because let's face it: there's pros and cons for every name, and if you only focus on the negatives, you're missing out on the upsides of a name.


Also, when's the new SSA list coming out? It should be like next week, right? 

May 13, 2013 2:11 PM

Very good advice. We just recently named a daughter after taking my favorite names off the short list (for reasons I agree with) and I'm surprised to find myself feeling a bit of namer's remorse, as in I still feel wistful about the names we didn't choose. I'm going to start focusing on all the reasons we chose THIS name. We had very good reasons.

August 14, 2014 11:58 PM

I couldn't even choose between French fries or spaghetti for breakfast. Being a young mom I wanted something fun, catchy, and not too common. I Have always enjoyed history and put a lot of I emphasis on my family history. Though much of my family was not too excited to hear that I got drugged at a college party when I should have been studying and worse (yes worse than being a catholic unwed mother with no idea who the father was) I actually was going to quit school and be responsible for something I cared about Instead of choosing adoption and never talking about "it" again.

I chose Winston as a middle name. My paternal grandmother is named Winnie and is my idol for compasion and composure under stress. My mothers family is known for the Winston Wilkinson Plantation home in Amite County Mississipi. So I honored both sides in a quick easy fashion.

Then I stressed over the first name. This would be the name I would cheer for at games and scream when he pulled the cats tail. This was the name girls would draw hearts around in their notebooks and cry over when he asked someone else to prom. What name did I love? There were many but one stood out for two reasons. I'm a huge fan of James Dean and his acting and quotes. I always have been without knowing why. Also Supernatural on the CW is my favorite show ever and Dean Winchester is the kind of leader and big brother I would want my some to be someday. Corny as it sounds i dont care and bear in mind I was also a hormonal nutjob who deleted Facebook friends when they posted pictures of food.

Dean Winston was born July 2, 2013 and he has been a blonde haired blue eyed heartbreaker ever since. He keeps my running that's for sure and I regret nothing about his name because it was something I picked that fit my parameters and I loved. Just like I love him. 


September 3, 2014 10:12 PM

Hi all!

I am hoping to have a boy and a girl one day I am planning on naming them:

Scarlet Grace McGalliard for the babygirl


Grayson James McGalliard for the baby boy 


what do you guys think of the names separately? And together ?