Beating the Baby Naming Blahs
Where do you start when choosing baby names feels like a chore?
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
For a boy name I’m thinking of:
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?
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on March 21st, 2018 at 12:14 am
Ivy is a great name!
I’m not especially logical when it comes to favorite names so it depends on if you are or not. Abby’s advice makes sense if you are more logical than I.
Me, I would just get a container, maybe a clean empty fish bowl or a piggy bank and every time a name came to me I’d pop it in. Ditto for my husband. We’d just ponder what we’d popped in and at the end of a time period (a week or month or whatever worked), we’d pull out the names and chat about them.
Personally, I like Ivy and Hal and Ivy and Holly, but that won’t help you figure out what you like. Maybe naming a baby can be like conceiving a baby – sometimes exhausting and one needs a break.
on March 21st, 2018 at 1:15 am
I feel like you can’t force naming, or you’ll end up choosing a name that’s not the right fit or otherwise possibly resenting the whole process because it felt like a chore. Make a note in your phone or in a notebook every time you hear a name that sparks your interest, and see what you’ve got written down when the baby arrives. People get so hung up on choosing names for babies before they’ve met, but sometimes you might just need a bit of time with the baby to know the right name for them. Ivy is a gorgeous name, here are someideas for her sibling:
Girl: Olive, Esther, Margot, Juliet, Eloise, Poppy, Odette, Beatrix, London, Maisie, Lola, Elodie, Anais, Willow, Vera, Ruby, Astrid, Freya, Hazel, Pearl, Juno, Eleanor, Millie, Stella, Aurora, Luna, Jane, Tallulah.
Boy: Arthur, Griffin, Wilder, Leo, Solomon, Asher, Beckett, Sid, August, Otis, Eli, Everett, Viggo, Henry, Atticus, Elwood, Calloway, Maxwell, Rocco, Easton, Malachi, Atlas, Oliver, Boston, Emmett, Sebastian.
Good luck! Don’t overthink it, the right name will find its way to you eventually.
on March 21st, 2018 at 4:57 am
I agree about going back to the reasons you like a name- it narrows the field, but also think about contrasts you like with Ivy’s name eg no ee ending or no nature/plant names. Knowing what you don’t want narrows the field too!
Try out names on Ivy as a sibling will probably look similar (my boys take after each parent quite separately but both have massive eyelashes, darker eyes, dimples and brown hair).
Go through your ‘almost names’ or top contenders from when you had Ivy, why were they nearly right? What makes them not?
Play some name games together eg name a family that has B, B, B+G twins then B+G+G triplets all with letter A, then B ETC
hubby and I did this after a boringly 70s named family in my sons favourite book (the biggest bed in the world- Ben, Billy, Beth and Bart, Boris, Briony and Bella if you want to know), it’s fictional so it’s freeing and creative but might surprise you and bring out some themes you didn’t know you were drawn to by doing multiple letters, by going through the whole alphabet you also can see letters you are naturally drawn to /like a lot of/ find some hidden gems. If you do it together it’s a good way to collaborate and find out if you match names or contrast, or separately you can see which names end up on both your lists!!
Good luck x
on March 21st, 2018 at 7:49 am
I love the suggestions of Gemma and Leo.
I think we have to realize that with each subsequent child, he or she might not get one of our all-time favorite names. Those were probably used on our earlier children. But that’s just the way it goes It doesn’t mean you won’t find a name you love. So try to relax and not make the “perfect name” be the enemy of the perfectly lovely name.
Abby Sandel Said
on March 21st, 2018 at 8:46 am
@Suzannah – ” … do not make ‘the perfect name’ the enemy of the perfectly lovely name” – SO beautifully said!
Abby Sandel Said
on March 21st, 2018 at 8:47 am
@lesliemarion – I *love* that idea! My grandmother pulled my father’s middle name out of a hat because they couldn’t decide.
on March 21st, 2018 at 9:07 am
Yay! Team Green! I love that you’re waiting!
Ivy is an adorable name.
I have had a difficult time deciding on names that I would really use. There are so many lovely names.
One of my sisters-in-law knew right away what they were going to name their son. They announced his name when they announced they were pregnant and having a boy. My other sister-in-law waited til the last minute. She had no idea what she was going to name either of her children. My family was always “pestering” her and offering suggestions. Her husband didn’t want to even discuss names and said to wait til the children were born.
Maybe you could make a list of names you are happy with and have your husband vote when the time comes. Or just take a little break for awhile.
What about another subtle “nature” name?
Callum, Jasper, Reed, August?
Scarlett, Pearl, June or Junia?
on March 21st, 2018 at 10:09 am
“Basically, I find names that I like and my husband weighs in. He also tends to shoot down every name. Sigh”
I think this might be what is sucking the fun on choosing a name for you. The pressure is all on you and husband’s negativity on every name you suggest must be depressing.
I recommend you have your husband create a list of 5 boys and 5 girls names that he would consider. You many not like any of them but it would give you idea of the criteria your husband uses when thinking about names. And you might then take a name from his list and find a similar name you both like. (For example, let’s say he likes the name Lauren and you aren’t a fan. Maybe Laurel would be option or even Linnea then.)
Another option is to spend a hour or two together when Ivy is brainstorming. Neither of you should be the one making all of the suggestions. One way to do this would be to have categories and think of names in each category, Reserve judgment while brainstorming even if you come up with some names that you would never use. Categories could be things like “3 letter names,” “names that begin with vowel”, “names that contain a v”, “short, two-syllable names,” etc. Once each of you has created lists, trade them. Share lists and get rid of names that are unusable for any reason (e.g names of friends children or names of people you dislike). Then see if you have any overlapping names. Create a list of possible boys and possible girls names and let it sit for a week or so.
As for suggestions:
With Ivy, I like Leo, Otis, and Ezra or Claire, Rose, and Juno.
on March 21st, 2018 at 10:33 am
I would take a break from choosing and just play. I love to read movie and TV credits for names- especially from countries not my own, sports events are great for hearing names. My grandmother had a lives of the saints books which listed all the calendar dates and the associated saint for that day. My grandfather was named Francis as a tie breaker- he was born on the feast of St Francis. My grandmother advocated for naming our son Gregory because he was born on the feast of st. Gregory ( and she didn’t like Nicholas LOL)
on March 21st, 2018 at 1:48 pm
We had the same issue with baby #3. Our first two had their names picked out years before their birth – both came from movies 🙂 But with our third, we couldn’t agree. I’d suggest a name, hubby would turn it down. Repeat 50xs a day. In frustration, I turned to the forums here and got a bevy of fresh name ideas. We actually used one of the suggestions as his first name!
on March 21st, 2018 at 7:44 pm
One idea I have had to make this more fun is to create somewhat of a ‘contest’ for family members by asking them to contribute names. I have asked for up to 10 boy names and 10 girl names for each person, so we have more to choose from. If we do end up eventually choosing someone’s name, it will be like a small tribute to them. Hope this helps!
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