The Baby With No Name

One of the last celebrity babies of the year, Baby Boy Bundchen Brady, spent his first ten days of life much the way one of 2009’s first celebrity babies did: without a name.

Born December 8, the infant son of supermodel Gisele Bundchen and quarterback Tom Brady went home from the hospital without a name.  And at over a week old, he remained nameless.   Finally, last Friday, the name was announced: Benjamin.

“We thought we had a name picked for about six months, and then, about two days before he was born she said, ‘I don’t like that name any more,’” Brady said. “So, it was kind of back to the drawing board.”

Tom and Gisele would find plenty of company on the nameberry forums, from parents who find themselves gripped by second thoughts a day or two after baby’s birth to couples who are unable to settle on the right name months after their child has been born.

What’s the problem?  For some couples, it’s simply getting up to the decisive moment and finding you’re still…..undecided.  For others, the name they picked out – Jasper, say – turns out not to fit the child who looks a lot more like a Jack, or maybe a Nathaniel, or wait a minute, what about Zane?

Some couples proudly announce their name decision upon their baby’s birth, only to be greeted by so much criticism from friends and family that they’re unable to sign the birth certificate.  Other parents find the name discussions that entertained them throughout pregnancy hardening into serious disagreements once it’s actually time to make a decision.

One mom who wrote to us recently described a situation that’s distressingly common: Simply never finding a name you really love.  You might have a list of a dozen you think are okay, but not a single choice that leaps out and says, I’m the one.

And of course, if you’re a celebrity, the whole world is watching and waiting for the name announcement, ready to pounce with opinions and criticism.

Last January, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck waited more than a week before announcing the name of their second daughter, ending up with the gorgeous Seraphina Rose Elizabeth, chosen by nameberry visitors as the Best Celebrity Baby Girls’ Name of the year.

So did it take them that long to come up with such a lovely choice?  Were they confused?  Stumped for ideas?

None of the above, said 95 percent of respondents to a nameberry poll, who said theybelieved Ben and Jen had already settled on a name but were keeping it to themselves. Most seemed to think the celebrity parents were just preserving a moment of privacy, but 17 percent took the cynical view that delaying the name announcement was a ploy to maximize publicity.

Celebrity baby names certainly have garnered their parents a measure of attention in recent years. That’s not to say we think most Hollywood parents choose unusual baby names for their publicity value: actors are, after all, creative people living in a style-conscious world. But it’s hard not to view some celebrity baby names — Penn Jillette‘s Moxie Crimefighter, say, or Jason Lee‘s Pilot Inspektor — as ploys for exposure.

Yet Jason Lee has still not announced the name of his second child, born in August 2008. Perhaps he was surprised by the negative attention Pilot Inspektor attracted and wants to protect his child, or himself, from ridicule?  And Holly Hunter still has not announced the names of her twins, now bound for kindergarten.  Maybe she doesn’t want to be more famous for her child’s name than for her work? Maybe Lee and Hunter want their privacy after all?

Or maybe they, along with Jen and Ben and Gisele and Tom, have come to feel that a name is not an accessory, like a pair of cute little shoes, to be held up for admiration or criticism. Maybe they feel, as many people have for centuries, that a name embodies their darling child’s identity, even their soul. And that’s not something they’re in a rush to share with the world.

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.