Naming Baby Number Two

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Let’s face it : the blank slate of naming your first child can be intimidating.

Will you stick with the classics?  Or would you be happier with a Cricket instead of a Charlotte, a Wylie rather than a William?  You’ve always liked your mother’s maiden name, Davis, and then there’s his fabulous Great Aunt Marguerite – but do you want to hand down family names, or is it better to start fresh?  Is Wyatt too trendy?  Is Cordelia too obscure?

It’s a riddle, but despite dire warnings of name regret, most parents seem to choose a perfectly suitable name for their firstborn.

Welcoming a second child means that you’ve got a crib and car seat already, but when it comes to names, you’re back at the beginning.

Or are you?  Because not only will you revisit many of the questions from the first round, you’ll also have to consider whether baby #2’s name matches, clashes – or matches too much – with the big brother or sister-to-be. When we were expecting our second, I had a moment of panic.  I’m Abby, and my husband is Arthur.  Our firstborn was named after his grandfather, Alexander.  That makes three A names – and suddenly it felt like everyone was asking if our daughter would have an A name, too.  She’s Clio, but I went through a few days of wondering if she ought to be Anya, instead.

This week was all about sibsets – the struggle to name your second, and the patterns that we set when we name our older children.  From high profile arrivals to stylish families from the real world, they prove that patterns are easy to fall into, and that rules were made to be broken.

The baby name news this week was all about:

Rocco, Rafael, Rivka, and the newest RitchieGuy Ritchie must be a huge fan of alliteration.  He and ex-wife Madonna are parents to adopted son David, as well as Rocco.  Now Guy and fiancee Jacqui Ainsley have welcomed a third.  Their children are Rafael and Rivka – both names with Old Testament ties and a certain international feel.  Here’s guessing that the newest Ritchie will also have an R name, but which one? Rowan? Rhea? Rialta?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Olympia Drexel and Force Hanley – Did you spot the Forbes story on America’s Richest Families?  The annual update caught my eye thanks to the couple pictured in the online edition – Matthew and Nicole Mellon, as in the bank, together with their two toddlers.  We all went to high school with kids called Nikki and Matt, but how many of us know an Olympia or a Force?  The names feel grand, maybe a little too much to live up to – but then again, it looks like they’ve got a Warhol in the dining room.  And I love the use of family surnames in the middle spot.

Meilani AlexandraHow did the Jersey Shore alumni end up being such decent baby namers?  So far there’s Snooki’s Lorenzo and Pauly D’s Amabella.  Now Jenni Farley – better known as JWoww – and her fiance Roger Mathews are parents to Meilani Alexandra.  It’s an elaborate name – the kind that would have fit right in on last week’s list!  It’s a little bit like Melanie, reinvented, but probably counts as Hawaiian.  Leilani is big in Hawaii, and Oahu-born actress Janel Parrish of Pretty Little Liars has the middle name Meilani.  It might be tough to name future baby JWowws – but then again, the Obamas have the Hawaiian-named Malia and her sister Sasha, a duo that works really well despite different name origins.

Eli DaneThis Swistle post perfectly demonstrates how the name we choose for our firstborn can rule out future sibling names.  If your son is Eli, you probably can’t name his sister Eliza.  I love Swistle’s rule of thumb: “I don’t really consider it a theme until the third child matches.”  So Rocco and Rafael don’t mean that baby #3 has to have an R name, but once you’ve added little sister Rivka, chances are that future kiddos will also share the same first initial.

Ida and Amy – Oh, but rules were made to be twisted.  Ask me to suggest names for Ida’s little sister, and I would think vintage: Cora, Rosie, Lula.  But this Living with Kids tour visits the home of Leah Stapleton’s family, including daughters Ida and Amy.  Amy was huge in the 1970s and 80s.  (It’s my first name.)  But when matched with big sister Ida, it feels short and sweet, more Little Women than Flashdance.

Lincoln and her little sister or brother – Kristen Bell says that she and Dax Shepard are “completely stumped” on a name for baby #2 – they’ve already used their absolute favorite!  This happens all the time – if you love, love, love your first child’s name and have had it in mind for a while, sometimes nothing else clicks.  Kristen, how ‘bout Parker, Bennett, or Adler?

Malina, Keller, and their little sister or brother – Scott Foley of Scandal and his actress wife Marika Dominczyk are expecting a third.  Keller must come from Scott’s middle name – Kellerman.  Marika is a Polish diminutive for Mary – I thought Malina might be another one.  But it is actually the Polish word for raspberry.  What an interesting pair of family-inspired names!

Ella Kole, Kennedy Faye, and Rebecca Klein – Country singer Justin Moore and wife Kate are already parents to Ella and Kennedy, and now they’ve added a third girl to their family.  Rebecca honors Justin’s grandmother, but the couple plans to call her by her middle.  Ella, Kennedy, and Klein – it makes a nice trio, even if Klein strikes me as clunky.

Jackson James, Etta Jones, and their little sister – Television and radio host Carson Daly reacted to Nameberry’s most popular names update last week.  He and fiancee Siri Pinter are expecting baby #3 – it’s a girl! – and he mentioned a common dilemma – both Jackson and Etta have family ties, but there’s no obvious heritage choice to give to their new addition.  We’ll have to see if the couple chooses something from the Nameberry Top Ten – Carson gave the thumbs up to Cora, Claire, Amelia, and Eleanor, and ended by asking his producer to “Send me that list!”

Was it harder to name your second child?  Do you think that matching sibling names is important?

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16 Responses to “Naming Baby Number Two”

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onlythingbetterthanhairspray Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 6:46 am

I think it definitely gets increasingly hard to name each child. My uncle has had Sara and Sam for the past ten years, and now my aunt is due with another boy in a few months. They’ve had the double S thing for so long that I was surprised and worried at his announcement that his next son’s name won’t start with an S, but I think he should be fine as long as whatever name he picks follows the short and simple theme set by Sara and Sam.

aunt_ning Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 8:31 am

I love this post! My cousins have a Hannah Elizabeth who will be 11 soon, and a Meghan Ashley who is 7 and are due with their 3rd in January. My cousins husband Chaz said their front runner for a boy is Liam Charles, which I love, and has been their number one since their first pregnancy, however for a girl he really wants an Isla, and I just balk at that. I just don’t see how it even begins to flow with Hannah and Meghan, and thankfully their mother doesn’t either. She is leaning towards a Charlotte or Lydia

SparkleNinja18 Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 8:35 am

Your story about naming your second reminded me about my dance teacher’s struggle to name baby #2 earlier this year. She had the exact same problem: her name is Allison, husband is Aaron, and their daughter is Avery. Baby #2 (a boy) needs an A name right? Nope! She welcomed Cooper in June. I think Avery and Cooper sound really nice as a sibset!

indiefendi Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 10:29 am

I don’t think siblings have to “match” but I don’t think they should clash either.

annakatheryn04 Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 11:24 am

My firstborn’s first name is Wesley, which was a guilty pleasure, but his middle name (George), was heavily influenced by family traditions. When it came time for us to welcome our daughter, I was slightly overwhelmed. Nothing seemed to fit just right. We ended up settling on a name that has proved to be absolutely perfect for our girl. Her first name, Maren, is another guilty pleasure name of ours ad her middle name is actually a suggestion we took from a Berry- Annalise, which is modeled after my first name, Anna. So we have Wesley George and Maren Annalise, a subset that doesn’t match but I think flows perfectly.

miloowen Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 11:44 am

Seventy years ago my grandmother, who was from Norway and didn’t really speak much English (her second language being German), was pregnant with her first child (my mother), having married an American she met while working in the library. She was only seventeen at the time, and the only “American” names she knew were ones from Hollywood, so my mother’s name was Elaine, after Elaine Barrymore. Daughter number two was Geraldine, after Geraldine Chaplin, and daughter number three was Susan, after Susan Hayward. She solved the problem of her fourth child — the only boy — by bypassing Hollywood altogether and naming him Thomas Irving Brewster, Jr.

As for me, I just went with variations of family names — my two great-grandmothers (both of whom I knew, growing up) were Sofie-Katarine and Maria Luisa, so my daughter is Caitlin Louisa. My son I named Thomas after my grandfather and uncle.

DrHenry Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I loved this post!!! I’m fascinated by sibling names. I’m loving Ida and Amy! I’m inspired by them. This is a fantastic, thinking outside of the box sort of pairing. I really don’t like when sibs are too matchy, or matchy at all really. I like it when they sound effortlessly cool together without trying hard (which of course does require trying hard). Amy and Ida are different styles, initials, sounds but yet they sound perfect together. I think naming a second can be easier, because as a couple you have a bit of a naming groove. You already have a very clear idea of each others likes and dislikes, how far they can be stretched and what it feels like to go beyond top tens and lists to actually naming a real human. And if you’re lucky you have “leftover” names from the first go around. For us we now have a girls name set. We are completely on different wavelengths for little dudes names, but at least we know how to arrive at “the one” when it comes down to it.

lookingahead Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 8:37 pm

We are definitely having the Kristin Bell problem. My son was born when we met, though he was conceived 5 years into our marriage. Now we are pregnant with boy/baby #2 and are having a hard time making a decision.

lookingahead Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Lol I meant named

Addie88 Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I don’t feel that siblings names need to go together, necessarily. Children are people, not fashion accessories or statements, and they will not always be seen as a “unit.” If a couple feels that this choice is right for their family, I say go for it. But people shouldn’t feel socially or culturally obligated to match their children’s names. This said, it does seem a bit weird when you hear one child’s name is Charlie and the other’s name is Zebulon, or something like that. Too out there, and it seems an unwise choice. For me, unconditionally adhering to “generational” norms in naming goes hand in hand with not having to “match.” So what if the name “Stephanie” is now associated with 25-30 year olds? This does not mean you can’t use it on your baby. Again, children are people, not ideas or accessories. If I do think anything sounds silly though, it’s when parents have names like John and Catherine, while their children are Kody and Brylee. Or when Kelli and Jason have John and Catherine. I think it’s nice when children’s names “match” the style of their parents, to at least a degree. You may not always be very close to your siblings, but being connected to your parents (ancestry) is another thing entirely.

rebekah83 Says:

July 21st, 2014 at 9:22 pm

My kids names don’t really match in a lot of ways, but on the other hand, they are both unusual and were chosen for deeper meanings. When I was a kid, I remember loving the consonant “k” and thinking I’d have all “k” names when I grew up. Then I grew up. 🙂 My husband and I have very common, classic names (Michael and Rebekah) and we certainly didn’t set out to name our kids unusual names…but it just happened based on the stories behind the names and our naming journey. Anyways! I fretted about their names not being the “same” — my daughter’s is a Latin word, while my son’s is strongly biblical– but now that I have said them together so much, I think they actually do go. I suppose if you named your kids two Welsh names and then an Arabic name, it could clash, but I agree with the poster above (Addie88)–the children are individuals and their name should be suited to them, or at least the best effort made (which is all we can do, as parents).

Poppy84 Says:

July 22nd, 2014 at 12:11 am

I don’t think siblings’ names need to necessarily match or “go together”, but I do think there should be a certain amount of fairness. If you name one child William and the next Jaisyn, for example, I don’t think you’ve created equal opportunity for your children (just my opinion).

My sisters and I all have unusual first names (all three syllables, ending in -a) and common middle names. Our first names come from all different languages/cultures (Greek/Hebrew, Welsh and Latin), and the timbre of the syllables varies, but they are still tied somewhat.

My son’s name is Archer, so I have eliminated A names for boys, and any -er names. There are plenty of names I like in these categories, but I want my children to have names that are separate from one another.

DoctorWho Says:

July 22nd, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I don’t think it’s very important to have sibling names that ‘match’. Nearly all of my favourite names on my girls’ list are very similar in style- classic/vintage (e.g. Hazel, Florence, Clara). This style extends to the majority of my boys’ list, but some of my favourites are considered much more modern, or have had a recent surge in popularity (e.g. Finn, Noah, August). These names don’t really match my less common classic/vintage favourites like Arthur or Felix, but I think the names work quite well together. I wouldn’t base my name choices around the sibset, but it is great to have names that sound nice together.

fairywaltz Says:

July 23rd, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I’m 7 weeks pregnant with number two and I’ve been struggling with names since we started trying to conceive. My daughter’s name is Scarlett, but I really wanted to name her Charlotte instead. Charlotte and Scarlett are waaaay too similar for my tastes, so sadly I’ll never be able to use my number one girl name. Nothing else is really calling out to me, boy or girl. Thankfully we’ve got 7 more months to think about it!

catcher5 Says:

July 24th, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Haha! If you think #2 is hard, wait until you get to #4 and #5. We’re expecting our 5th around Thanksgiving, our second girl. And I’m having trouble coming up with ideas that are even in the ballpark with the names of our other kids. 🙂

Names Says:

July 28th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

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