When Should You Share Your Baby’s Name?
By Abby Sandel
Reality star Maci Bookout isn’t due for a few more weeks, but she’s already shared her son’s name with the world. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen dropped hints, but didn’t reveal their pick until the day their daughter arrived. And Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden stuck to tradition, waiting for King Carl to announce the name during an official government cabinet meeting a few days after the little prince’s birth.
There’s no rule about when to announce your baby name, but there are plenty of opinions. Do you announce early, to ensure that your pregnant sister-in-law doesn’t choose the same name? Or do you keep it top secret, to prevent unwanted feedback?
Whether you’re a reality star, a royal, or just a parent after a great name for the next generation, there are nine possible moments to share your child’s name.
At age thirteen – A lifetime name enthusiast, you called Ava for a girl back in 1996 – way before Heather Locklear or Reese Witherspoon used it. It was important to make sure that your nine-year old sister, and both of your best friends knew that it was Your Name. Pros to this approach: your sister and childhood friends haven’t taken Ava. The downside? Well over 100,000 families that you didn’t know way back when have, and your Ava may end up a Lena anyway.
When you got engaged – First came love, then came marriage … but before you got to the altar, you made sure that you’d claimed the family names Henry and Alice, because you have a lot of cousins, and only a few really amazing choices from your family tree. On the plus side, it’s one less decision to make when you do find out you’re expecting. But there’s no guarantee that calling dibs will keep your cousins from shortlisting your favorite names, and that can cause tension at the next big family gathering.
When you first started trying to conceive – Maybe you didn’t have baby names on the brain at thirteen, and you were way too busy planning your honeymoon to debate Silas versus Jasper during your engagement. But now that starting a family is next on your list, it’s time to get serious about what you’ll call your new addition. If you and your partner agree, it’s tempting to announce Penelope and Wyatt now. Of course, that leaves months and months for your mom to try to talk you into a more “normal” name, and for your colleagues to point out that Jen in accounting just named her daughter Penelope.
Early in your pregnancy – The average pregnancy is around 280 days, which can go by fast. If you’re lucky enough to narrow down your shortlist to a top boy and top girl name, it might feel right to reveal those names when you share the happy news. All the hazards of announcing when you’re first trying to conceive remain, but it’s nice to be able to answer confidently, “Caroline for a girl, Matthew for a boy,” when others ask if you’ve started thinking about names. Of course, that opens the door to 280 days of possibly unwanted feedback.
As soon as you find out the gender – From choosing nursery colors to bonding with your baby, there are plenty of good reasons to learn your baby’s sex in advance. Another bonus? It means that you’ll only debate the merits of half as many baby names. If you’ve already settled on a favorite, you can announce it now, and let your aunt start embroidering Arabella on that pink crib blanket. One catch: some parents get to the delivery room and decided that their Arabella is really more of a Jane.
As soon as you decide – Few of us are absolutely certain of our future children’s names years in advance. (If I’d named my kids at thirteen, they’d probably be Barron and Mystina.) Sometime between learning that it’s a boy and actually meeting your son, though, you’ve managed to settle on Kai Nathaniel, and you’re ready to shout it from the rooftops! Of course, your newly pregnant friend – or your thirteen-year old cousin – might protest that Kai is her name. And well-intentioned family members might campaign for you to choose Larry, after your great-uncle, instead.
By text messages from the hospital – A mere eleven years ago, we called our nearest and dearest to announce the arrival of our son, and sent an email a day or two later. Now we get text messages with the happy news, and usually a full name and picture, too. The positive to this approach is that you’re not getting texts back saying, “Congrats! What did you name her?” The downside? It means you really need to agree on the name prior to going into labor – and that’s not always the way it goes.
A few days post-birth, when you get home, put on some mascara and take a picture – We find out tons of our friends’ baby names this way, from Facebook posts and group emails, complete with a picture of an adorable sleeping baby, and exhausted but beaming new parents. The strengths of waiting a few days are plain. If you were torn between Eloise and Adelaide, you have a little more time to mull over your decision. The negative? Maybe all of those “Have you chosen a name yet? I think Jordan is nice …” comments.
At the first big official event – You’ll tell the grandparents immediately, but maybe the world doesn’t need to know until you’ve had time to order the formal birth announcements and schedule the baptism. Sure, this approach is usually reserved for royals, but it might work for families without castles and security details, too. Lately, the celebrity approach is to save the baby name reveal for the first post-baby interview. But many cultures have naming ceremonies for newborns, a chance to formally introduce the new addition to family and friends – and to share their full name for the first time.
When did you tell?
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on April 25th, 2016 at 8:11 am
We revealed our daughter’s name at the baby shower.
on April 25th, 2016 at 11:12 am
I picked my first daughter’s name when I was twelve, “called” it among my friends when I was eighteen, discussed it with my husband when we were first dating, and then went silent about it when I got pregnant. Everyone had forgotten it by then so most were still surprised when we announced Adelaide’s name after she was born!
on April 25th, 2016 at 11:33 am
I chose Emiliana’s name in the early naughties, when I was in high school. I’d never met an Amelia or Emilia… so I was almost put off by the popularity of those names! The middle was a new addition, which we chose while I was still pregnant. The names of all subsequent children will have been chosen between us dating and perhaps after the kid is born…
Abby Sandel Said
on April 25th, 2016 at 11:41 am
@ARead – LOVE your story!
@tfzolghadr – Emiliana is lovely, and how nice that you used your long-time favorite. 🙂
@jtucker – We’d shared ours around the same time, I think. It was both sweet and kind of surreal to get cards addressed to my kids by name when they were still in utero!
on April 25th, 2016 at 12:23 pm
My daughter’s name was revealed at the 20-week ultrasound. I was 90% convinced she was a girl and only had a girl name picked. The tech ended up typing “Hello from ____ ____” on the ultrasound. I then posted that on FB. I love monograms so I’d like to have my baby’s name decided before they’re born. I probabky wouldn’t announce it again before birth though.
on April 25th, 2016 at 1:25 pm
We intended to keep our daughter’s name secret until birth, but we (or should I say DH) caved pretty early on and shared it with close family. We swore them to secrecy but word spread pretty fast anyway. Before long everyone knew apart from my 90-year-old grandma, who I’m sure had been told but had forgotten (she still can’t remember Juno’s name now!) This led to a pretty hilarious exchange at a family gathering shortly before she was born:
*Everyone talking about baby names*
Grandma: “Have you decided on a name, then?”
Grandma: “No, no one’s told me.”
Poor Grandma couldn’t understand why the rest of us all fell about laughing!
But in all seriousness, I’d definitely prefer to keep it a proper secret next time. Very few of our friends knew the name we’d picked for Juno and it felt so special and exciting to be able to reveal it along with the first real-life picture of our little babe. We chose a pretty “Marmite” name, it seems, so I think having the name attached to an actual human being staved off many unwanted negative opinions, when our minds had been well and truly made up since before our daughter was even conceived!
on April 25th, 2016 at 1:51 pm
With this baby, at the 19 week ultrasound, my husband and I both looked at the baby and said, “Oh, its Solomon.” We didn’t consider any other names for him once we saw him. We honestly did not care about negative reactions. With our first son, nobody knew till after he was born. Those who didnt care for his name still let us know their feelings, even though there was a cute baby already attached. My mom, for instance, objects to our sons having “old man” names. I told her that we hope that they are old men eventually.
on April 25th, 2016 at 1:57 pm
I’m a name nerd so I was planning out names with my husband before we started ttc. We didn’t find out the baby’s gender and didn’t share names with anyone before his birth. Partly because we hadn’t fully decided and partly because we didn’t want all the negative feedback from everyone. We decided fully on a names a fee weeks before Simon’s birth and we announced his name when we announced that baby was here and it’s a boy. We never got any negative comments on his name because it was attached to a present baby.
on April 25th, 2016 at 2:35 pm
My family already knows what names I like and I know what names they don’t like but I will wait until my future babies are born so then it’s set in stone and they can’t say anything. Leo will definitely be in there somewhere for a boy.
on April 25th, 2016 at 4:03 pm
I DEFINITELY fall into your first category. A lifelong name nerd, I read the first edition of Beyond Jennifer and Jason while I was in middle school. My mom always told my sisters and I that she picked my elder sister’s name out when she was in her teens, so it didn’t seem unusual for me to be “name shopping” in my teens. When I first saw the name CALYSSA in a magazine when I was in high school, I immediately knew that it was THE name. The night we were engaged, I told her father this, and he agreed. My daughter was always going to be Calyssa Paige. (She’s now in middle school herself!)
on April 25th, 2016 at 4:08 pm
I’ve known since I was very young that my first daughter would be named Karin after my beloved grandmother who partially raised me. I didn’t necessarily “claim” the name or make an official announcement. There wasn’t going to be any discussion about her name regardless of what anyone said. I was team green though, and there was still no boy name picked out by the time I went into labor, so good thing she was a girl!
As for the future SO and I have a girl’s name picked out (his mother’s name) which is non-negotiable. He also has a boy’s name picked out (Luke, which I’m still not sold on!) but I don’t think we will make any official announcements until after the baby is born.
on April 25th, 2016 at 10:32 pm
I’ve been announcing my baby names to the world since I was three.
Of course, at the time I favored Jiffy and Jelly, so they have changed over the years. 🙂
I remember announcing Candace around seven and in my twenties it was Thalia. Oddly enough, male names didn’t occur to me then.
In my thirties I had a boat load and when I got to try to have children, it was Owen and Cordelia, but I didn’t tell anyone. I was single-minded; I just wanted to be pregnant more than anything.
Unfortunately I did not get to stay pregnant with Owen or Cordelia long, but they and their names are real to me and my husband. And it has been incredibly healing to share their names with kindred spirits.
I do think it’s interesting though that in my parents’ generation (having kids in 1960’s mostly), everyone told everyone name choices beforehand (or so it seems) and today almost no one seems to announce early. I no longer ask, because I have been told so many times that it was a secret.
I think it’s fine either way, but I wonder what factors has caused it to shift?
on April 26th, 2016 at 11:44 am
I didn’t start thinking of names until I was pregnant with my first. I never made any official announcement but would tell people if they asked. My mom seemed to be the only person to remember their names during my pregnancy. lol With my daughter I’d tell them it was either going to be Terra Jade or Aurora Brooke. (She ended up Terra Gwendolyn) With my son I knew from the get go that it would be Emrys. I had it picked out right after having my daughter.
Abby Sandel Said
on April 26th, 2016 at 1:47 pm
@lesliemarion – Your Q about why it’s shifted is a good one! I wonder if it has really changed dramatically, though – lots of things about naming have – or if it’s just more discussed today? I’ll have to ask around.
@LoveBugsMama – That is SUCH a sweet idea!
@Katinka – Best. Story. Ever. LOVE!
@TarynKay – I love the feeling of know your baby’s name at the ultrasound. I had that same feeling, too – sometimes you just know.
@TigerLily2005 – I think the part about a “present baby” is a reason many people don’t criticize names – and maybe why we don’t share them in advance as freely, too.
@jmsouthern – LOVE that story – and your daughter’s name!
on April 27th, 2016 at 4:47 pm
I’m not quite to the point of babies, but I want the gender to be a surprise. I also love the way that Jewish cultures announce names. At the brit milah (circumcision) for boys and at the Torah reading at the synagogue for girls. Though I myself am not Jewish, I hope to ‘borrow’ their customs somewhat when naming my future children.
on April 27th, 2016 at 6:35 pm
I follow the Jewish custom of waiting until the 8th day circumcision to announce a boy’s name, and a Torah reading day following the birth (Monday, Thursday or Saturday) for a girl.
Not only is there religious significance, but it’s also an exciting new piece of info to share, separate from the birth itself. We don’t find out the gender until birth, so our family and friends get to hear – “She had the baby!” and then “It’s a _____!” and following that, “And his/her name is_____!” The excitement never ends 🙂
on April 28th, 2016 at 9:13 pm
I’m 11 and I want to name a daughter Aoife Senna or vice versa. I also like Isla, Juniper and Pippa.
For a son I’d go with Tuckar Chase (after my brother, Chase) or Maxton Elliott or Rhys Caden.
I’ve been a baby name obsess for quite some time now, Some of the names I’ve used throughout my life-
Rayne the Build a Bear Cat
A Bunch of Letters “Bunchie” build a bear dog from 2010.
Bella Miley Fadunkadunkel, AG doll
Amiah Aurielle and Keegan Karlo AG Dolls
Some of my fav sim names I used-
Londyn Saige Delanos
Seraphina Ellowen D.
Senna Grace Beau
Briar Rose Blaira
on May 3rd, 2016 at 11:44 pm
As it stands now, we don’t intend to share any names before birth. My husband wasn’t really getting it at first. Everyone one we know has shared names ahead of time, many of them the instant they announce their pregnancies or find out the gender, his thought process was “they do it, so why shouldn’t we?”. I reminded him about the comments people had made about the names in several cases, mostly negative. We’ve overheard many relatives and people we know absolutely tear apart people over their name choices- usually to their faces! Our family is infamously the worst. I asked my husband if we could please just keep it between ourselves, and possibly one of our married couple friends who we trust and who we’ve bounced names around with when they were expecting their kids. He was sort of warming up to my request when I read him some comments on here about others’ experiences in relatives/people hating their kids’ names…his jaw dropped, literally. He readily agrees now, even if it may be hard for us to keep it a secret. I think the way we are going to sort of prevent that is by not really deciding on a name until the birth, or going to the hospital with a couple choices, so that way we don’t even know ourselves, and wouldn’t be lying when we tell people “Oh, we are still deciding!”. It’s crazy how some people get over baby names though…decency runs out the window and people say what they want.
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