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Beating the Baby Naming Blahs

March 20, 2018 Abby Sandel
baby names

Where do you start when choosing baby names feels like a chore?

Ashley writes:

I’m not technically looking for name advice (although as you’ll soon see we could probably use help on that front as well), I’m looking for advice on where to start when naming has lost its fun.

With our eldest, we had conversations nearly every day and we had lists galore. This time around … I feel like I’m going to go into labor and then we’ll suddenly realize we have no idea what to name this baby!

We’re over the moon to be having another baby, but every name is just blah. Our daughter’s name is Ivy. It suits her perfectly. We’re Team Green, so we’ll need a name (or two) for each gender.

Basically, I find names that I like and my husband weighs in. He also tends to shoot down every name. Sigh.

So … where do you recommend starting when every name you’ve come across just makes you shrug? Do any of your readers have suggestions on how to get out of this funk?  Had Ivy been a boy, she would’ve been given a name that has since become incredibly popular in our area so it’s really lost its appeal. Are we going to be stuck in a naming rut forever?

The Name Sage replies:

I’m tempted to dive right in, offering suggestions for a brother or sister name for Ivy.

But that’s not really your question, is it?

It’s possible to believe that names matter and feel frustrated by the act of choosing one. In fact, the sheer amount of choices can be just plain overwhelming. Especially the second time around, when you’re juggling parenthood, plus preparing for a new addition.

There’s good news, though. Finding the right baby name is a project, and there’s a logical process to follow.

Here’s my suggestion for how to start, and I know the community will have some great thoughts to share, too. But the most important part is this: do start! You may very well find your enthusiasm a step or two in.

First, set the timer on your phone for thirty minutes.

Next, jot down the qualities that you prefer in a name. Long or short? Modern or vintage? Nickname-rich or nickname-proof?

Take a look at the current US popularity list. (Or the list for wherever you call home.) Since Ivy ranks Number 112, I’d start around there and go up a few hundred places. Scan the list, and write down anything that seems like it might be an option. The bigger, the better!

Now put your list aside, and don’t return to it for a week or two. My guess is that some of those names might feel like possibilities.

That’s often the process I follow when looking for name suggestions. Even when I’m struggling, it almost always yields a few ideas.

Let’s take a look at some possible sister names for Ivy.

Esme – A literary name with a big, bold sound. Ivy and Esme sound just right together.

Gemma – Since Ivy is a nature name, I wonder if another name connected to the natural world might appeal? Hazel and Rose are obvious, but subtle Gemma might be another option. It comes from an Italian word meaning gemstone.

LenaIvy and Lena share a certain sophisticated, but easy-to-wear style.

Lucia – There’s something romantic about Ivy, so names like Lucia seem like natural sister names.

Rory – If you love the –ee ending of Ivy, I wonder if Rory would appeal?

For a boy name I’m thinking of:

Ezra – Like Ivy, Ezra combines plenty of history as a given name with a cool, current sound.

Felix Felix sounds vintage, plus it has that appealing letter x.

Jasper – Like Gemma, it’s a precious stone name.

Leo Leo and Ivy both pack lots of sound into just three letters, and both refer to the natural world, too. I think that makes them perfect together.

Max – Like Ivy, Max is a mini name, brief but complete.

My favorites are Gemma and Leo, but I feel like you have lots of great options!

If this list has both you and your husband nodding your heads in agreement, great! But if not, it’s time for him to complete the exercise himself. Even if you don’t find agreement looking at his choices, it’s important to acknowledge that naming – like so many things in parenting – is a group project!

We have two more great resources that might help:

You may want to experiment with the namehunter tool. Enter your favorite names – or even names that you just kinda-sorta like – and it will help you generate lots of fresh ideas.

Lastly, if you’re looking for inspiration, or just some feedback on your favorites, the forums are always a great place to go.

Readers, have you been stuck in a naming rut? What helped? And how would you get started on the process of choosing a name when you’re feeling blah? What would you suggest to Ashley as a brother or sister name for Ivy?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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