How to Cope With Baby Name Regret
Baby name regret — also known as baby name remorse — is a common source of shame among new parents. It allegedly affects between 10-20% of new parents, yet the perceived stigma deters many from sharing their feelings or stories.
Lately, celebrities have been opening up about their own experiences with baby name regret. Kylie Jenner initially named her son Wolf, only to later change it to Aire. In an episode of The Kardashians, Jenner revealed, “We had to sign the birth certificate, or they would register him without a name or Social Security number. So, I felt the pressure to choose a name. We put Wolf Webster at the time and right after I signed the birth certificate I thought, ‘what did I just do?'”
Amy Schumer named her baby boy Gene Attell in honor of her late friend, Dave Attell. After fans pointed out that the combo could be teasing fodder down the line, she and husband Chris Fischer legally changed their son's name.
On her podcast, Schumer shared, “So do you guys know that Gene, our baby’s name, is officially changed? It’s now Gene David Fischer. It was Gene Attell Fischer, but we realized that we, by accident, named our son ‘genital.’ Gene Attell sounds like genital."
As professional name consultants, almost 50% of our inquiries are about baby name regret. We've helped many parents navigate name remorse with their babies and toddlers — some who ultimately change their child's name, and others who eventually appreciate their original choice.
Here, our expert guide to dealing with baby name regret.
What is Baby Name Regret?
Baby name regret is the overwhelming feeling that you've given your child the wrong name. Some cold feet and questioning "Does she really look like a Clara?" or "Am I sure he's more of an Owen than a Miles?" are totally normal and do not necessarily mean you are experiencing baby name regret. Sometimes it just takes a while for a child to grow into their name!
So how do you know if you have baby name regret? Most parents feeling name remorse report negative feelings — such as anxiety, a pit in their stomach, or a sinking feeling — when they hear other people say their child's legal name. Often, these parents avoid saying their child's name aloud — they might use pet names like Baby or Buddy instead.
Here are some more common emotions and thoughts associated with baby name regret:
I am messing up my child for life!
I'm a horrible parent.
I should have been able to do this right the first time.
I let this go on too long.
Will my child hate me if I change their name?
How will other people react if I change my baby's name?
What if I regret the next name I choose?
What if I never find the right name for my child?
Sound familiar? You've probably got a case of name regret.
Baby Name Regret and Depression
If you are struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or any other postpartum mood disorder, feelings of baby name regret can be amplified.
Because of hormone fluctuations after giving birth, some birthing parents experience "the baby blues" in the first two weeks after their baby's arrival. But if symptoms — such as depressed mood, crying spells, and intense anger or fear — persist beyond two weeks, talk to your doctor to get screened for postpartum depression.
Additionally, if you feel like your baby name regret is significantly impacting your connection with your baby, that is a sign you are experiencing a postpartum mood disturbance in addition to name remorse.
Will Postpartum Depression Treatment Fix My Baby Name Regret?
Postpartum depression treatment — which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two — can improve feelings of baby name regret.
After treatment, some parents report their fears or doubts about their child's name mostly disappear, or determine that they can live with their concerns about the name.
Other parents emerge from treatment with the clarity that they want to change their baby's name and the conviction to do so.
How to Cope With Baby Name Regret
1. Sit with the name for a while
If feelings of doubt creep up the first few days after your baby arrives, don't panic! Sometimes the baby blues can mask as name remorse. Use the name you chose for a few days or weeks. If it still doesn't feel right, consider these next steps.
2. Determine if postpartum depression is at play
Refer to the previous section to see if postpartum depression or other mood disorder may be a factor in your baby name regret. If so, it's recommended to seek help before committing to changing or keeping your child's name.
3. Remember, it's okay to change your baby's name
If it's clear that your baby's name isn't the right fit, it's time for a change! Consult our expert guide on how to change your baby's name to learn more.
4. Be gentle with yourself
Baby name regret is emotionally taxing. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that baby name remorse — and name changes — are completely normal. You and your baby are going to be okay.
For more tips on coping with the shame, see our guide on how to change your baby's name.
How to Prevent Baby Name Regret
Baby name regret sneaks up on the best of us. But if you're looking for preventative measures, we have some tips.
1. Think about names well before your due date
Starting the baby name process early can prevent last-minute scrambling after baby arrives. Parents who choose a name that they just discovered are more likely to report name regret than those who use a name that had been on their list for months.
Not sure where to start? Check out our baby name advice.
2. Test out names in the real world
Does it bother you that your barista can't spell Isla? Do your parents know how to say Ottilie correctly? If these sorts of things will be dealbreakers, it's best to work them out before baby comes.
See more strategies for test-driving your baby name.
3. Know thyself
Are you the type of person who likes to decide on the baby's name before they're born? Make sure you've picked it out before baby makes their entrance.
If you prefer to go into the birth with a couple of options, narrow it down to a compelling shortlist (2-3 combos are recommended) and decide once baby arrives.
4. Don't rush the paperwork
The best thing you can do to prevent baby name regret is to take it slow when it comes to filling out birth certificate paperwork.
If you have a hospital birth, staff can be pushy about getting your signature on necessary documents. But if you're having doubts about the name, hold off on signing the birth certificate. Even if they try and tell you otherwise, you are allowed to leave the hospital without a complete birth certificate.
Your baby will not be registered with a name or Social Security number, but most states allow between five to ten days for official registration. Delaying the process adds an extra step, but for many parents, it's preferable to the emotional stress of a name change.