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Brother and Sister Names in the News

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

If naming your first child is a challenge, naming baby number two – and maybe three and four – can start to feel like a puzzle.  Should you repeat first initials?  Should everyone share the same first initial?  If your son’s name is a Top 20 standard, is it okay to give your daughter a name that’s never cracked the Top 1000?  How about honor names?  If your daughter is named after your grandmother, will his grandmother expect to be next?

There’s no right answer, but there is a right choice for every family.  This week, sibsets were in the baby name news – and on my mind.

Blame it on a trip to the zoo.  We’re lucky enough to live in the Land of Bao Bao, also known as Washington DC, home to the Smithsonian National Zoo.  As we crowded into the panda habitat the other morning, parents called their kids’ names.  Mostly Sophia, with Noah, Aiden, and Hayden tossed in for good measure. And then, from right behind me: Zelda and Maxine, come on!  We’re going to see the elephants.

Perfection.

Quirky, cool, and unexpected, but not too out there, either.  I could barely stop myself from tracking down their dad and asking all about their family.  Did they have any brothers?

Plenty of families were naming siblings this week – for an Indiana family, five at once, since they welcomed quintuplets.  And then there were the not-quite-twin brothers on a new Bravo reality series.  Plus Iceland weighed in with another inscrutable name-banning … though so far, only the sister has made headlines.

There’s no perfect formula for naming siblings, but this week’s news was filled with interesting approaches:

Aurora, Brielle, Delilah, Elias, and Felicity - Multiples are often referred to as Baby A, Baby B, and so on while in utero.  Some parents keep these designations, resulting in sibsets like Avery, Bentley, and Cassidy.  Michael and Roxanna Hoffman of Arizona went with alphabetical names for their quintuplets.  But where’s C?  That letter was already taken by their 6 year old son, Connor, who took the lead in choosing his younger siblings’ names.  Nicely done, Connor!

Dean Danny Benjamin – Model Anansa Sims and her NFL alum husband David Patterson welcomed their third child last week.  Dean joins older brother David III and big sister Ava at home.  It’s subtle, but Ava shares mom’s first initial, while the boys all start with D.  The first middle name honors Anansa’s late father, Danny Sims, best known as the music producer who signed Bob Marley.  Ava, David, and Dean – it’s not a trio I would have suggested, but it does feel nicely complete.

Harriet - Once upon a time, I heard Reyjavik and thought of the Northern Lights.  But lately, Iceland is all about bureaucratic snafus related to baby names.  Remember Blaer, the girl who was told that her name was masculine, and therefore couldn’t be registered – never mind evidence that Blaer had been used for women before?  Now a British father and Icelandic mother have been told that their daughter Harriet cannot receive a new passport.  Sorry, Ms. Beecher Stowe, Ms. Tubman, and plenty of Swedish women, but Harriet does not appear on the official registry of Icelandic names.  Hendrikka, Henrietta, and Henrika are all okay.  The Cardew family has three other children – Lilja and Belinda, born in France, and Duncan, also born in Iceland.  I can see the couple’s conundrum – the official name list is extensive, but if you need more than one name that works in Icelandic, English, and possibly other languages, too, it’s not so easy.  Though if they’d went with Snaebjort and Reginbaldur, the kids wouldn’t have made headlines.

Jax and Jett - Speaking of headlines, new Bravo reality series Ladies of London introduced us to a headline-grabbing pregnancy.  Caprice Bourret was born in California, but is better known in the UK, where she’s been a model, actress, television personality, reality star, and now manages her own lingerie company.  Caprice and partner Ty Comfort turned to a surrogate when they couldn’t conceive – only to find that Caprice was pregnant, too!  The boys were born within a few weeks of each other, and Caprice is keeping mum about which son is which.  Jax and Jett are matchy-matchy, but naming not-quite-twins might call for a combination like this.

WilderThe Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg and wife Jocelyn Towne welcomed a son this week.  Their older daughter is Adeline, and the new addition is Wilder.  Wilder is a little more daring than the lovely, vintage Adeline – this pair reminds me of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Charlotte and Rocky.  And yet, Adeline and Wilder seem more compatible, even poetic – like character names from a black-and-white Hollywood classic.

AdelinaSurvivor alums Rob and Amber Mariano have stuck to a very consistent style for naming their daughters.  New arrival Adelina joins Lucia, Carina, and Isabetta.  The names make for a compatible quartet – feminine, Italian-inspired, current without being common.  The four sisters have something else in common, too – they all share the middle name Rose.

Did you find it harder to name your first child, or later children?  Does your favorite name rule out any names for future siblings?

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