Nine Baby Name Journeys

July 26, 2015 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

Sooner or later, you’ll have to choose.

The rules vary based on where your child is born. But some authority somewhere is going to want you to register your new arrival, possibly before leaving the hospital. If not, eventually, in order to get a passport or enroll in school or something, your child will need an official name. And the grandparents? They’ll be asking, too. Because calling your kiddo “the baby” gets old fast.

But choosing isn’t easy, whether it’s your first child or you’re a veteran parent.

Jaime King talked about her baby naming anxiety while awaiting her second son, saying, “Names are never easy, you don’t want something to be too Hollywood.” She added that she liked “classic and eclectic mixed together.”

Just because you’ve finally written the name on the birth certificate doesn’t always mean you’re done. A tale of renaming a toddler made headlines this week.

And I found a fabulous story from an adult who changed her name in her 20s – though she’s not so sure it was the right choice.

Let’s take a look at some great names, and the reasons they were chosen:

Leo Thames Jaime King and Kyle Newman welcomed son James Knight in 2013. The model-turned-actress talked about trying to find a strong name for her son, but also one that with a little bit of romance. The couple took a while to announce their second son’s name, possibly because they were still mulling it over. Leo is fierce, but almost as mainstream as classic James. Thames is a nod to the English river, which has special significance for Jaime and Kyle. It might have been a tough choice, but I think they nailed it!

Phoenix Sky – Actress A.J. Cook is also now mom to two boys. Phoenix Sky joins big brother Mekhai Allan. No word on why A.J. and husband Nathan Andersen went with Phoenix, but they’re clearly daring namers.

Atticus Love for the literary baby name Atticus was at an all-time high when Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was released earlier this month. Atticus was the most-viewed baby name at Nameberry for the first half of 2015. And then readers learned that Lee’s second incarnation of Atticus Finch wasn’t the stand-up hero that made us embrace the name. Will the appeal of the original Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird continue to inspire parents? Or is Atticus over?

Lucas – One family has already decided. A Colorado couple has renamed their one-year old son. Atticus will now be known as Lucas. They’re calling him Luke. Here’s the thing: Lucas was the Number 18 name in the US last year, with Luke standing at Number 28. Both Luke and Lucas have a long history of use, and many notable bearers. It’s almost impossible for any one of them to tarnish the name. That makes Lucas very different from Atticus, a name so closely associated with the fictional Mr. Finch.

Emmaus – Choosing a name that has lots of positive associations is one way to avoid disappointment. Or you could choose a name that’s completely original. StoryCorps went to Kansas City, and recorded this story of a couple’s surprise adoption of a son. They named him Emmaus, inspired by a Biblical passage they heard in church. It’s a sweet story, and the couple has since found more positive associations and reasons to love the name.

Camden How many little Bradys were named for Tom? Is Crosby on the rise thanks to Sidney? And what about Camden? Are Baltimore baseball fans boosting the name of the Orioles’ ballpark? In at least one case, the answer is yes. This couple had their wedding reception at Camden Yards, home to MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, and named their firstborn Camden. They also brought their babies past the stadium for pictures on their way home from the hospital, and took them to their first games before they could say, “Cracker Jack!”

Yardley Ruth Camden’s little sister is Yardley. Yardley doesn’t necessarily scream “baseball superfan,” unless you know her big brother’s name. The ballpark’s full name is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The second half refers to the land, which was previously a rail yard for Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s Camden Station. Her middle name is for Babe Ruth. Ruth was famous as a New York Yankee, but he was born and raised in Baltimore, and there’s a statue to him at Camden Yards.

Francesca Marina – Speaking of middle names, Nancy shared the story of Francesca Marina. The Italian navy – the Marina Militare – rescued her heavily pregnant mother from a refugee ship in the Mediterranean. The mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl after boarding the Italian ship, and chose the middle name Marina in honor of her rescuers.

Anneli – Let’s end with the best thing I’ve read about names in a long time. Journalist Anneli Rufus renamed herself at the age of 26. She didn’t like her birth name, Sharon, but isn’t so sure that Anneli was the best choice, either. I love this line: “Renaming oneself is a fairy-tale quest: half-blessing, half-curse …” I think it can apply to choosing a name for a child, too. Finding the right name is a journey, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Have you ever rethought your baby name choices? Have you ever considering renaming yourself?

About the author


Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at

View all of Abby's articles