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How I Named My Baby: Xander Steele

How I Named My Baby: Xander Steele

Kristen, a stay-at-home mom, and Alex, a mechanic, live in Elmont, Michigan with their six-month-old son. Their baby boy Xander Steele was born on April 6, 2021.

Below, we speak with Kristen about how she and Alex chose the name Xander Steele for their little boy.

Tell me about how you chose Xander’s name!

I originally only had a girl name picked out. I love the name Maisie, and I was dead set on that. When I found out he was a boy, I was like, “Oh shoot, I have no boy names!” I wanted something cool. I picked out the middle name, Steele, a long time ago, so I knew it needed to match.

I was on Nameberry and saw Xander with an X. Before, that, I had only ever seen Zander with a Z. His dad’s name is Alexander, so I thought it would fit perfectly. I still had a couple of other names in the back of my head, so I pushed off the decision until he was born. We got a really good look at him and were like, “Yeah, he’s a Xander.”

What was that process like for Steele?

Alex and I started dating when we were 17 and he said, “I don’t think I want kids, but if I did, I’d name one Steele.” I told him, “That’s not even a name!” But it stuck. I thought Xander and Steele would both be on a “cool” name list and that they flowed perfectly together. Just the fact that he liked something made me like it. And it’s unique — I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

I always tested boy names by pairing them with Steele as the middle name. It was always going to be the middle name, no matter what.

How long did it take you to settle on Xander as the first name?

It took about a day in the hospital. All the nurses and the birth certificate person and our family kept asking “What’s his name?” the second he was born. We were like, “We’re not sure! We have a couple of options and want to get a good look at him.” And we were so tired, obviously. I was more concerned with meeting him than making a decision on his name, as important as that is.

After a day we were like, “Okay, we need to sit here and look at him and decide. Everyone here is yelling at us!” I said to Alex, “If you had to pick, which name would you choose?” It was between Xander and Brazen. He said he liked both of them and that I could pick. Dang it! But I said, “You know what? I think it’s Xander.”

Once we chose Xander, we really started to like it more. We didn’t realize how much we loved it until we started saying it and buying him personalized blankets and stuff like that. We had a moment where we were like, “Wait, this is really cool.”

What other names made your list besides Xander and Brazen?

I liked Jameson, but we know a lot of people named James and Jimmy. I thought Jameson was too long to call him all the time, but there isn’t a good nickname for it, so we stayed away from that.

We both liked Bryson, but that’s definitely rising in popularity, so we crossed that one off the list.

I actually know a Zander, which was a strike against the name for me. I didn’t want him to have too common of a name. But it’s funny because when we introduce him people are like, “What? Xander? Sander? What is it?” So it’s not as familiar as I thought it was!

What strategies did you use to come up with names and narrow down your choices?

I would google “unique baby names.” I wanted something that was actually a name, nothing made up.

I worked at a daycare for a long time, so I’ve heard all the names in the book. I think it’s fun to keep up with trends and stuff like that, so I’m always googling what’s popular and what’s unique.

What other girl names are on your list? It sounds like Maisie would have been The One.

Yeah, I wanted to name a girl Maisie Ryan. I love Ryan on a girl, and it’s also Alex’s middle name. I also love the name Aurora, but I don’t feel like Maisie Aurora flows very well. So I’m still figuring out how to incorporate that! I like Willow and Rose. And Minnie, but you can’t say Minnie without thinking of Minnie Mouse.

Did you talk to anyone else besides Alex about baby names?

If I really liked a name, I wouldn’t say anything about it, because I didn’t want anyone’s opinion to sway me. If someone were to say they didn’t like it, I would say “Oh, I don’t care,” but would be hurt on the inside.

I told our family that we liked Jameson and Xander. I didn’t say anything about Brazen since I knew they would say something like, “What? That’s silly, that’s not even a name!” They all said that they liked Xander, which was more confirmation for me. They didn’t pressure us to pick it, though.

Steele was a secret as well. But they thought it was really cool. They didn’t think I would pick something unique, because my sister’s kids have pretty popular names, Aria and Mateo.

How do you feel about your own name, and how do you think it played into your choice, if at all?

I’m okay with my own name, but I don’t like anything similar. Xander and Ryan both honor Alex, and I thought it would make sense to do something with my name. Kristen has the “Christ” element in it, and pretty much any name that is derived from Christ is way too common! I couldn’t find anything that I liked.

My maiden name has Macedonian roots, so we tried to find something like that for a middle name, but there was nothing that sounded good with Steele.

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

We’re pretty young — none of our friends have kids! But around town, I’m noticing a lot of popular names like Landon, Kayden, and Sophia. Those are nice, but when you hear them and see them all the time, you’re like, “Okay, you’re another Landon.”

There are a lot of classic names too. We have Ronalds and Donalds and Sarahs. And ones that aren’t quite as old, like Hailey and Claire.

What would you have named a baby when you were younger?

When I was in high school and had that baby doll that we took home, I used the name Mason. It’s definitely popular now! I also really liked Logan a lot.

For girls, I always loved Aurora, because she was my favorite princess. I never thought I would name my daughter that, but now I’m like, “Why don’t I?” I keep coming back to it, so it would make sense to use it for a daughter.

Did you ever have any fights about baby names?

No, but my sisters did! They both wanted to name their sons Theo, so they had a fight over the name. My one sister got it, even though she doesn’t have kids yet. Now everyone tells her she better have that Theo soon, because she claimed his name!

Have any unexpected nicknames come up for Xander?

My husband’s family calls him X-Man. And we realized Commander Xander rhymes. A couple of people have said Xan the Man.

One thing I didn’t realize is that the Xan syllable sounds like Xanax. I really hear it when people call him Xanny. I want to stay away from that!

What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting the baby name process?

Two things: You come across a lot of the same names when you’re researching. It’s hard to search “unique names” and find something perfectly tailored to you. It’s easiest to go through them and say yes or no. The entire baby name process was harder than I thought it would be!

If you have something that you know you like, if you keep coming back to it, you’ll always like it. And once you get a good look at your baby, you’ll just know. When I was pregnant, I really just put it out of my head. I didn’t want to sit there and go back and forth because I knew I wasn’t going to come up with the final name until he was born.

Thank you so much, Kristen!

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About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top baby name trends of 2021, baby name synesthesia, and the top names in each state. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.