Naming Your Baby: Solutions to Common Conundrums

Pregnant Woman with HusbandChoosing your baby's name could turn into a big battle. Here, the pros tell you how to handle sticky situations gracefully.

By Lisa Milbrand

Sticky situation: You want to use the same name your friend used.
Solution: Tread carefully in these waters -- your friends may not be super keen to have another Emmaline or Henry in their inner circle. "We're all pushing to be distinctive, and today's parents choose names specifically to stand out," says Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard and founder of "So people get very proprietary about their creative choices."

Your best bet? Broach the subject of sharing the name with the other parents, before you put it on your child's birth certificate. "If you phrase it right, the question can be flattering," Wattenberg says. "Try something like, 'Wow, you have great taste -- I love that name so much that I can't get it out of my head. Would you mind if we named our baby that, too?" If they blanch at the idea, you may need to go back to the drawing board. "If you name-nap, you do it at peril of ruining the relationship," says Pamela Redmond Satran, a baby naming expert and cofounder of "What's more important, the relationship or the name?"

Sticky situation: People say negative things about a name you love.
Solution: When it comes to baby names, everyone has an opinion -- and they aren't all glowing reviews. If you're set on your baby name and want to avoid negative comments or unwanted advice, keep the name under wraps until your baby is born. Most people hold their peace once the name's attached to an adorable new baby.

If you're open to suggestions on the name, feel free to listen to the feedback. You may want to reconsider your name choice if you're getting a lot of flak about your chosen name. "If no one can understand the name and you have to give a big explanation of it, that may tell you that you need to put some more thought into it," Satran says.

Sticky situation: You don't like the nickname a friend has given your baby.
Solution: If it's important to you that your son be called Edward, not Eddie, for example, speak up before the nickname sticks. Try this simple, straightforward response: "We'd prefer that you call him Edward." It's easier to step in and try to control it while the baby's name is still getting established, Satran says. "But keep in mind that after your child starts school, all bets are off." Odds are, your child (with a little help from his friends) will figure out what he wants to be called -- and it might just be Eddie after all.

Sticky situation: People are asking what you plan to name your baby -- but you wish to keep it secret until he's born.
Solution: Prepare yourself for nosy questions by coming up with a standard response. "It should be something that you're comfortable saying, but that lets people know you're stopping the discussion," Satran says. Depending on your personality, it can be something simple and direct, such as "We're just not sharing it right now" or "That's the one thing we want to keep secret." Or, play the humor card: "I'll tell you everything you want to know about my stretch marks, but my baby's name is the one thing I don't want to talk about."

Sticky situation: You're debating a few names, and you'd like some feedback, but you're not sure who to turn to.
Solution: "Choose a couple of trusted confidantes to bounce the name off of; they may see something in the initials or be able to tell you something that you'd want to know about it," Wattenberg says. "If you think your name choice is incredibly unusual because Grayden isn't in the top 1,000 names, parents of 3- or 3-year-olds may tell you that names ending with "den," such as Jayden, Brayden, and Zayden, are actually very popular."

If you want to keep your close circle out of the loop, you can always turn to the anonymity of the Internet and baby naming sites, but keep in mind that this tactic has its own pitfalls. "The people weighing in probably live someplace different and have different lives than you -- and naming tastes vary widely across the nation," Wattenberg says. "And some people seem to go on the sites just to make fun of each other's names."

Read more baby-naming sticky situations and solutions.


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