Confronting Name Regret
They’ve brought home their new baby, but her name just doesn’t seem to fit. Time for practical strategies for confronting name regret, and finding the best possible name for their daughter.
I am having serious name regret. We named our daughter Leila Rose. The name Leila was on our short list, but we chose it at the very last minute. Rose is a family name, so I feel very comfortable with that name as a middle.
Since coming home from the hospital, the name Leila has never felt right. At this point, we’d like to change it. But I haven’t found a perfect – or even mostly perfect – name.
Leila is often mispronounced. I’m worried it has ethnic roots that don’t overlap with our own heritage.
We’d like something a little less unique/more classic. Maybe something more Americanized/more easily recognized, too.
Do you have any suggestions about where to start? Is it crazy to change your baby’s name? (We really don’t use it, so I don’t think she knows it is her name yet.) Could we use two middle names, adding a new first name with “Leila Rose” for her middle? We’ve been thinking about Juliet Leila Rose.
Thank you for any help!
The Name Sage replies:
Parents have changed their children’s names months after they were born for generations. Long before the internet, even before we’d all heard of name regret. While there’s no hard data, talk to enough people and the stories are there. You’re not alone!
It sounds like Leila is a name you love – but maybe not for your family. Despite your unease, though, my experience is that any name change brings a sense of loss – even when it’s the right decision.
Because of that, it’s often best to change a name as little as possible. Retaining some part of your child’s original name helps, too.
And while I’m sure you know this in your heart – we all do! – no name is ever perfect. Often a name represents the best possible choice, reached through a mix of logic and love.
Let’s start there.
You’ve mentioned that Leila feels like the wrong fit for your family’s heritage. I wonder if you’d consider spelling it Layla? The Arabic roots remain. But it’s broadly familiar in English. That’s thanks, in large part, to Eric Clapton. (His smash hit power ballad with Derek and the Dominos was inspired by a medieval romance, the poem Layla and Majnun.) But it’s also about our love of Kayla and Hailey. Layla has been a Top 100 favorite since 2006, currently ranks Number 23, and it’s easy to pronounce.
Of course, your daughter already has a classic, easily spelled and pronounced name: Rose. Would you consider simply calling her Rose or Rosie? If this idea appeals, you can always legally change her name to Rose Leila. Or not. Lots of people go through life as M. Elizabeth and J. Sarah with minimal fuss.
A FRESH START
But if none of those approaches appeals, then adding a new first name might be the right approach. It allows you to retain your daughter’s birth name, as well as her meaningful middle. And it gives you a blank slate to choose something new.
For what it’s worth, though, Juliet is less common than Leila. The spelling Juliette, with an extra –te, ranks Number 170 in the US. But, of course, Shakespeare’s character means that we’re all familiar with the name, regardless of spelling.
If not Juliet, I wonder if you might like one of these names, all ranked in the current US Top 500:
As for two middle names? While there’s no official data, it seems more and more common. My younger child has two middles; plenty of families use one parent’s surname as a second middle name, too. While plenty of official forms might reduce Juliet Leila Rose to Juliet L, if two middles make this process easier, then don’t hesitate to use them.
THE BIG DECISION
If not, my vote goes to Juliet Leila Rose. It’s close to the other name you considered during your pregnancy. And it makes for a lovely combination, a mix of the name you gave your daughter at birth, and one you realized would suit her better for her future life.
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on November 4th, 2020 at 7:28 am
A very similar name to Leila which was not mentioned is Leilani. It might be worth considering. By adding ni you have a totally new name, but still have the baby’s original name as well.
on November 4th, 2020 at 2:17 pm
@asherose, This is a great suggestion! Abby, great ideas, as usual! I think Juliet Leila Rose is beautiful.
on November 4th, 2020 at 3:50 pm
Have you considered Lola? Might help with ethnic heritage concerns?
I like Lily but it might be a bit much with MN Rose. How about Lillian Rose?
All the best!
on November 4th, 2020 at 8:55 pm
Lily Rose is also the name of Johnny Depp’s daughter. A celebrity name would probably stop me from using it even if I were cool with the double flower thing.
If you like Juliet Leila Rose, you should absolutely go with it. It’s lovely.
If it still doesn’t feel right and you truly want classic and easily recognized with no spelling issues, why not just Julia? It even sounds a bit like Leila. Julia Rose
Of course, if you still wanted to include Leila in the name, the sounds are similar enough that it might sound a bit tongue-twistery. Julia Leila Rose
But if it were me, it wouldn’t be enough of a problem to deter me from using the name if I loved it, and it had meaning for me.
on November 4th, 2020 at 9:39 pm
I really like the idea of spelling it Layla instead, which has an intuitive pronunciation, and is very known without being too overused.
I also really liked the suggestion of Leah Rose. Leah is an amazingly beautiful name, classic, flows very well with Rose, and isn’t a far deviation from Leila.
on November 5th, 2020 at 12:41 pm
The issue I see with Leah is that people pronounce it two different ways – Lee – ah and Lay – ah. I think she may have the same frustration as she is having with Leila. I think you should go with the name that feels right for your daughter as she exists today and not when you were pregnant and she was more of an idea. Meaning, if Juliet Leila Rose feels like your little girl, go for it! If Rose has grown on you more, move it up as a first! I would just make your decision soon so you and your little lady can move forward.
on November 5th, 2020 at 3:25 pm
Leila is so sweet! Arabic if I recall. I knew a Danish girl called Laela but Layla is sweet too. How about Lila? Way less common that Lily or Lola. Leilani & Leila is so pretty but if you want something that can be a more immersive in your little corner of the world I would suggest Lila or Laurel. Both are characters in How to get away with Murder 😂
on November 5th, 2020 at 6:40 pm
Juliet Leila Rose is gorgeous. I also like the previous suggestion of Lola–Lola Rose is lovely and flowing.
on November 6th, 2020 at 2:12 pm
Another vote for Juliet Leila Rose
on November 6th, 2020 at 2:33 pm
May I humbly suggest Livia? I think it has a similar gravity to Leila. Also, how about Linnea?
on November 6th, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Leila / Layla –> … Subtle changes would probably be best. Something with similar sound. So you never have to feel like you abandoned her “original” name or anything like that… You merely tweaked it!
– Lilah or Delilah
– Isla (if you live in UK, but not US — ppl will say izluh here).
– Freyja (if you have Scandinavian roots)
on November 7th, 2020 at 2:04 am
Seeing Juliet and Rose so close together reminds me of the famous quote from Romeo and Juliet “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Which gives me a lot of thoughts but none especially helpful to your situation. So I’ll move on.
One thing that jumped out to me was that Leila, Amelia, Juliana, and Isabel all had the letters l and a. Juliet doesn’t have the a but it does the l. So maybe that’s something you gravitate towards. So I’d cross off Sophie. If spelling is frustrating you, you might not want to pick Amelia (Emelia is another common spelling) or Isabel (also spelled Isobel and there are many Isabellas out there too). That leaves Juliana and Juliet, which are both lovely and both go wonderfully with Rose.
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