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How to Name a Last Baby

February 21, 2020 Emma Waterhouse
naming a last baby

Five years ago today, I was six weeks pregnant with our first child, convinced it was a girl, and already firmly set on the perfect name: Juno Matilda. (It was, and we used it.)

Three years ago today, I was five months pregnant with our second and we’d just found out he was a boy! Kit Valentine: two names we loved, both with great family connections. Job done.

One year ago today, I was four days overdue with baby number three and we were still arguing — no, agonising over her name.

Astrid? My mum hated it. Beatrix? An acquaintance’s daughter. Caro or Hero? Too many Os. Nell? Too short, according to my husband (I know, we have a Kit, go figure…)

Ramona? Brexit. Ismay? Titanic. Mabli? No Welsh connection. Clover, Flora, Sunday? “You’re just saying words now!”

Argh! I’d gone from loving far too many names (seriously, my list of potential girls’ names could probably be published as a book in its own right) to nothing feeling quite right.

Last Chance Naming: The Struggle is Real!

According to Abby Sandel, Nameberry’s resident Name Sage and creator of Appellation Mountain, this is something she encounters a lot with second-time parents (and beyond).

“The biggest practical issue is finding a name that’s not too close, but also not too different from siblings’ names,” she says. “It can be a puzzle: no names starting with A, S, or R; no (more) girl names ending in -a because they already have two; no (more) flower names because they already have a Rose…”

And, of course, by the time parents are naming their third or fourth baby, so many great names feel “taken” — whether by friends’ kids, or kids’ friends, or just because of booming popularity.

As Duana Taha, baby name guru at LaineyGossip, explains: “People want to make sure their final child’s name is just as distinctive and ‘special’… even though they’re likely much more tired and busy than they were when they chose the earliest names in their family.”

It’s hard to think clearly about the merits of Vita (doesn’t work with our surname) vs. Xanthe (pronunciation) when your two-year-old has been sleeping horizontally across your pillow for the past week.

Top Tips for Naming a Final Baby

So, what to do? Should you just call him or her Ender or Omega and be done with it?

We asked name experts and fellow parents for their best advice on how to survive and thrive at the name game last time around.

1. Play with the pattern

Naming a last baby can be an opportunity to embrace themes, but if trying to find another name to fit is giving you a headache, it could be time to get creative!

“If your fourth child’s older siblings are Gary, Gordon, and Gilbert, and you can’t use Grace, Greta or Gabrielle, think about sounds,” suggests Duana. Ingrid will still feel like she belongs to the group despite not overtly fitting the theme.”

If no more tree names appeal after Willow, Hazel and Aspen, try other sleek nature names like Opal, River or Violet.

If you’ve been naming after grandparents but you just can’t make Aloysius work for you, look for variants: Louis, or even Ludo, could be the perfect fit.

2. Make your own meaning

Berry @hollyrow sums up the struggle of many second-time parents perfectly: “I’m so in love with what our first son’s name stands for to us, that I do feel a little bit more pressure to find that perfect name this time around too.”

Say you gave your firstborn the beautiful and meaningful name you’d had picked out for years: Mae Florence — after your wedding month, your honeymoon destination and your beloved grandmother. How on earth do you match that?

Duana recommends thinking outside the box: “Favourite characters, places, even songs can come in to give special flavour.” Children love to hear the stories behind their names, and Dylan won’t care a jot whether it’s your mother’s maiden name, or a musician you love, or a character in your favourite book.

3. Think of the individual first

It’s easy to get hung up on the “sibset” (guilty!), but if you’re finding yourself striking perfectly good names off the list for reasons of sibling cohesion, it might be time to rethink.

As Abby says: “Matching or not matching sibling names can feel incredibly important when our children are young, but in 25 years? Nobody is going to know that Ortensia‘s sister is Natalie.”

Tastes change with age and experience — and some are pretty eclectic to start with! — and that’s OK. The most important thing is that all of your names are chosen with love.

4. Don’t hold back

Abby’s advice: “If there’s a name you’ve always loved, but think it’s too different or risks seeming quirky with your older kids’ names, now’s the time!”

One of the biggest reasons for so-called “name regret” that we see on the Nameberry Forums is not using a favourite name for fear of it being too unconventional or unfamiliar. Sometimes, it’s sensible to take a reality check on some of your guiltier pleasures (Pendragon, anyone?), but today’s children will grow up in a world with far more diversity in names than ever before. No one will bat an eyelid at Rafferty or Inigo or Zephyr.

Use it now, or forever hold your peace.

5. Let it go!

Wise words from Berry @lilimorgana: “In the end I had to make peace with the fact that I couldn’t use ALL the names. Once I let go of that, things sort of fell into place.”

I’ll admit it: this was the hardest one for me. I’ll never have the little Flora, Nell or Ramona I’d imagined. I’ll never have a son called Sasha (sob!) But there are literally thousands of great names out there. Unless you plan on setting up a cat rescue or, better still, a sea-monkey sanctuary, you’ll never be able to use them all.

Try flipping a coin or drawing lots to decide between your favourites — your gut reaction to the results might just tell you what you already know deep down. Even if it’s not “right” for one reason or another, which is the name you really can’t let go?

One year on, I still think we made the right choice (even though she’d have been an awesome little Nell). Happy first birthday, Anouk!

About the author

Emma Waterhouse

Emma Waterhouse — better known as @katinka around these parts — joined the team in 2017, writing about everything from pregnancy and birth to unique baby names from fiction and fantasy. As Nameberry's head moderator, she also helps to keep our active Forums community ticking. A linguist by background, Emma speaks six languages and lives in England's smallest county with her husband and three young children. You can reach her at emma@nameberry.com.

View all of Emma Waterhouse's articles

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