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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Reykjavík
    Posts
    922

    Why name at birth?

    Hey, I'd be interested to see your thoughts on this issue.

    When I first moved to Iceland I was completely stunned at the naming traditions here. In the UK most baby names are announced along with the birth announcement. I think most parents decide in pregnancy or pick out a few and decide within a few days of the birth.

    Here you have 6 months to register a name for your baby, and most babies' names are announced when they're at least a month old, more commonly 3 or 4 months old in my experience. I'm sure most parents will pick out names before that, of course, but they don't finalise the decision or announce anything until long after the birth. Some babies get named straight out of the hospital, but it's unusual.

    I thought that was completely nuts at first. I didn't understand the super relaxed Icelandic attitude at all, it felt really strange to meet these new little humans with no names, and go on calling them random pet names for months. I've heard people say that they have to wait to see if the baby really is a Gunnar or whatever, but I always thought that unless it's very unusual, whatever you name the baby he will end up suiting it, right?

    But I also see a lot of people on here who regret their choice made in pregnancy or at birth, and want to change it after a few months to one that better suits the baby. So why not wait a few months before naming? Or people who are in some sort of panic over having not chosen a name, and they haven't even given birth yet, and I totally don't understand that. I predict that I'll be antsy to name any future baby as soon as possible, but I don't think I'll be allowed to until at least a month after birth. On the other hand, I no longer think it's 'weird' to meet a 3-month-old baby without a name and I can see some benefits to being more chilled out about the timing. I see no real benefits in naming at birth, other than that it's just what is done. Maybe to get the baby used to her name, but that'll happen anyway, there's no rush.

    Why do you think that in the UK and other countries there is such a strong culture for naming at birth? Do you think it matters if you call him 'baby' or 'sweetie' for a while, or try out different names for a few months to see how you like them on a real baby? Would you feel uncomfortable (as I think I will, despite everything) about having to wait? Would you feel panicked if you were approaching your due date without a name ready?
    Baby #1 due May/June 2015
    Emil - Ingimar - Kjartan - Matthías - Óskar - Róbert

    Elísabet - Elva - Rósa - Sólveig - Svala - Ylfa

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,105
    I think it's mostly about legal papers. Getting the children registered and not having thousands of "Baby Girl Smith" and "Baby Boy Turner" citizens. Or when you travel and need a passport for your child, they will need a name as well.
    A big part of it is definitely tradition though.
    I would love if they gave the parents more time to make a decision, maybe not 6 moths, as by that time the baby usually recognizes his or her name but 2 or 3 months would be great.
    Ophelia & Elliott

    Aurora + Theo + Penelope + Arthur + Flora


  3. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    685
    I think the Icelandic way of doing this makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing this! Most babies just get called Baby or Sweetpea or whatever for the first few months anyway, since grown up names just never seem to quite fit newborns.

    In some cultures, they give a name at weaning (3 or 4) and in others, children take a new name at puberty or some other milestone. This always made a lot more sense to me. I bet it would lessen name regret if you could wait till the child was 4 to name them! I would love to give you specifics about these practices, but I just vaguely remember learning something about this back in Anthropology 101.

    I agree that this would be a paperwork nightmare (at least at first, I am sure the bureauocrats could adjust) and this type of cultural adjustment is unlikely to take place in the US/UK/other countries that name at birth, but it is intriguing.

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Reykjavík
    Posts
    922
    I just remembered an anecdote from my boyfriend's family about some relative who was never given a name by his parents. They just kept on calling him Lilli (little one) until he chose a name for himself, I think around the age of 5. I can't remember what the name was, but he named himself after their postman.

    Now him I felt a bit sorry for.
    Baby #1 due May/June 2015
    Emil - Ingimar - Kjartan - Matthías - Óskar - Róbert

    Elísabet - Elva - Rósa - Sólveig - Svala - Ylfa

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    846
    I have two kiddos and my experience was different for each. My daughter I knew two months before she was born what her name was. My son I went into the hospital with a name I was unsure of and the moment I laid eyes on him I knew he was someone else. So I definitely believe in finding the right name to suit the child rather than the other way around. Given the number of adults that don't seem to fit their name, yeah not everyone grows into it. I like the Icelandic system, that way you can get to know your baby and not stress out about the name. You can practice using the name on your child to see if it works for everyone. Deciding the final name for the child (and I name my pets this way also) is something that is communicated between parents and child not forced on them. The only benefit that I see to the other way is that when you are the parent of a newborn it can be hard to remember or find time to run down to the government center to register.

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