When Siblings Get Into the Baby-Naming Act

I had my three children over 11 years, and of all the disadvantages of spreading your kids that far apart, one of the biggest is that the older kids will insist on having a say in their baby brother or sister’s name.

When we found out our youngest child would be a boy, my husband and I were delighted that we had a name all ready for him: Edward, to be called Ned.  That had been our second-choice name for our older son, whom I insisted on naming Joseph after my dad.  But my husband and I both loved Edward and Ned, and we were thrilled and relieved to be set with our name.

Not so fast, said our older children.  Any kid named Ned, they claimed, would be sure to be called Nerd in the playground.  They weren’t too fond of the name either.  In fact, they said, if we named him Ned, they already knew they weren’t going to like him.

Sigh.  We couldn’t very well give the baby a name his older siblings hated, so we went back to the drawing board.  Luckily, my husband and I quickly found another name we both loved: Harry.

Even Harry Potter couldn’t sell our kids on that name.  No, they said.  If Ned was a nerd, Harry was “hairy.”

Well, we asked, what did they think we should name the baby?  Our son Joe, who was three at the time, loved the name Jim — but as a name book author I thought I would never to be able to tell interviewers I’d named my own sons the oh-so-plain pair of Jim and Joe.  That was like being a fashion editor and dressing in head-to-toe Gap.   Joe‘s next best idea: Rainbow Boy.

All I remember after that was holding my newborn son in my arms in the hospital, the other children at my bedside, still debating his name.  Finally we came up with Owen, my grandfather’s middle name and one that we all at least agreed on.  My husband and I hated giving up the names Ned and Harry.  But as difficult as it can be to arrive at a name two of you love, it can be almost impossible to please four people.

Did any of you have older children who had strong opinions about the baby’s name?  How did you consider their ideas and did you end up taking their advice?  We’d love to hear!

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30 Responses to “When Siblings Get Into the Baby-Naming Act”

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hope t. Says:

December 15th, 2008 at 10:29 am

My oldest son, who is very aware of the “coolness” factor of everything, was fifteen when my youngest was born earlier this year. He claimed that there was only one name that he could accept for his newest baby brother and he would call him by that name for the whole pregnancy and beyond, no matter what we actually named him. I offered dozens of name suggestions which my husband vetoed and my oldest son refused to consider. When the baby was born we still had not agreed on a name despite the hours of time I spent reading every single baby name book I could get my hands on. We were ready to leave the hospital and had not put a name on the birth certificate. Finally, in desperation, we wrote the name that his big brother wanted. The name is Ian – which is the “coolest name in the world”- according to big bro. I love the name BUT I would have to say that the down side of having the coolest name in the world is that soon you notice that a large number of other children also have that name!

pam Says:

December 15th, 2008 at 10:36 am

I agree and I think you bring up a good point that I kind of danced around — the kids’ opinions are usually going to be for more popular names than the parents might choose themselves. But I have to say, our Owen does really like his own name and in agreement with his siblings is horrified to think we might have named him Ned or Harry.

realpraise Says:

December 15th, 2008 at 10:54 am

When I got pregnant, my twins said that, if it was a boy, it would have to be Oliver. Frankly, Oliver is not my taste, nor my husband’s. But we found out that it was going to be a girl, and they said, “A V name.” I asked for suggestions. What they came up with? Valerie and Valentina. So I scoured nameberry’s V names and found Vera. It was love at first sight, for me. But I eventually won them over and now have a Vera!
When I was born (I’m the youngest), my mom said that my siblings wanted me to be Melanie or Deanne. They combined the two and came up with Melody… and I am from a musical family, by the way. My older brother’s middle name is Amadeus.

tommiethemommie Says:

December 15th, 2008 at 11:01 am

This is an execellent topic. I can’t decide whether or not to let my 2 girls have a vote in their little brother’s name or not. Out of the names in our top 10 they both like Hunter. My husband likes Jacob(JAKE), Caleb, and Chase. I like Holden, Weston, Cooper, and Griffin. The name they like is right in the middle for me. So do I push for a name I want and the three of them hate or give them the third vote and settle in the middle??? They are only 5 and 7…should they have so much say so??? I’m torn!? Any suggestions would be helpful.

pam Says:

December 15th, 2008 at 11:41 am

You know, it IS a tough issue, and so not one with a “perfect” solution. I do think letting the kids have a say in the name can help cement their bond with the baby from the beginning. But my son Joe, who was going on 4 when his brother was born, doesn’t remember any of this name stuff and certainly doesn’t have the same name opinions now as he had then. Depends to a large extent on how much you like the name THEY like: If it’s close enough, maybe choose it in the spirit of family harmony; if not, let them pick it (or whatever they want) as a middle name but tell them it’s Mom’s and Dad’s job to choose the baby’s first name, which they may find reassuring. You can even buy them their own name book — just know you may then have to live with “Rainbow Boy” as a middle name.

Jiffypop Says:

December 15th, 2008 at 1:22 pm

From the moment we told our daughter (5) we were expecting she has wanted to name the baby Sophia. I have always loved the name but initially dismissed it out of hand as too popular. Now that we are definitely having a girl, it has grown on both me and my husband. I love the idea of having our daughter name the baby, but am still not sure I want to saddle our next child with such a popular name. So far no other name is measuring up to Sophia. We deliberately chose a less popular name for our first daughter, so it’s a dilemma.

Patricia Says:

December 16th, 2008 at 10:11 pm

I named my younger sister when I was 11. When my mother told me she planned to name the baby if a girl — which was all we were hoping for after three boys following me! — Robin Joy, I suggested Rebecca instead. My parents liked the name and almost instantly (as I recall) decided on the name Rebecca Ann (called Becky as most Rebeccas were called then). My sister has always been glad I suggested her name, but wishes we’d called her by her full name Rebecca.

Kate Says:

December 18th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

When my second was born, his 2 y/o brother couldn’t pronounce his new brother’s name (his name is Gideon). So, my son started calling the baby Ghee-ghee, which, four years later, has been shortened to just Ghee.

The most difficult part was figuring out how to spell “Ghee.” I wanted to go with “Guy” (French pronunciation), but my husband figured everyone would use the American pronunciation. “Gi-gi” looked to girly. “Gee-gee” looked like it would be pronounced with a soft “G.” “Ghee” seemed to be the most apropos.

When my youngest was born, my oldest was dying for a sister. I had already decided her name would be “Ramona.” Eli wanted to pick her middle name. His suggestion? “Cutie Munchkin I Love You.”

The youngest ended up being a boy.

amylynn Says:

January 1st, 2009 at 8:48 pm

I am having “my” seventh child and “our” 11th child in the next few weeks. It will be “our” 9th girl. Every name we think of, one of the girls know someone with the same name who is just an awful person that they can’t stand and can’t possibly have a sister with the same name….sigh…

pam Says:

January 1st, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Oh my goodness — 9 girls! I can’t wait to hear what name you choose. Please check back in and let us know!

Lexi Says:

August 7th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

My oldest son, Jordan, was eight years old when I was pregnant with his younger sister. My husband and I found the perfect name for her: Mavis. Jordan objected, saying it was an old lady name. He suggested we name her Kylee or Jaylyn.

Well, my husband and I didn’t like either of those names, so we gave Jordan a list of names that he could choose from. He vetoed all of them, but suggested more names of his own: Velissa, Jaiden, Sienna, Kelsie, Angel. And we didn’t like any of them.

In the end, we chose a name Jordan liked a little bit more: Louise. We let him pick the middle name. He chose Kelsie.

Louise Kelsie was never our first choice, but people are always saying how cute it is. And Louise loves her name.

Alice Says:

August 11th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

My children are Sybella Gwen,5, Rafferty Huw,3, Broderick Cohu and Carys Paloma, 2 weeks. When we told Bella and Raffie that they were going to have a twin brother and sister they kept suggesting names that were really wacky or their best friends names. If we’d have gone their way we would have had a Charlotte Beautiful and a Max Strong?! We told them that we wanted to embrace their mixed heritage (1/2 Welsh, 1/4 English and 1/4 French). Raffie’s friend is called Brody and we loved it so fashioned Broderick Cohu (Cohu is my surname) and Carys Paloma was 2nd best after they both turned down Emilia Gracie, saying – Emilia in my class is mean and Gracie isn’t a proper name it should be Grace (which we don’t like as much. Our kids are pretty determined and mature for 5 & 3. So Broderick Cohu (Brody) and Carys Paloma (Carrie) were approved and used and are now 2 weeks old.

CanaLyn Says:

May 27th, 2010 at 6:12 am

I can’t remember my mother ever discussing names with us until after the baby was born – although she did say when she was pregnant with my middle sister that we might name her “Caboose” since myself and my brother both had “C” names and she was supposed to be the last one………..

Erin Says:

September 9th, 2010 at 2:00 am

I was five when my younger brother was about to be born, and my parents asked what I thought for a name. I told them “Michael”…because my kindergarten self had a crush on auburn-haired, freckled, gap-toothed Mike MacKenzie who rode my school bus. Nonetheless, it was a normal-enough suggestion that Kenneth Michael it was.

I didn’t help name the next one, but when we arrived at the hospital two years later to pick up mom and new baby sister, I was dismayed to find out that she had “misspelled” Carrie — as Kari! (I had spelled it “Kerry” on the card.)

I didn’t have anything to do with naming siblings three and four, but I did choose a middle name for sibling five, Penny Lauren.

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Sarah Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 9:41 pm

When my twin sister and I were born in 1981, my older brother, then 2, wanted to name us Bert and Ernie. Luckily, my mother wasn’t that cruel.

Leah Says:

June 20th, 2011 at 5:34 am

We are having our third child (male/female – it will be a surprise!). My oldest daughter is 4, and she thinks “Zurg” would be a great name for a boy (as in the evil emperor Zurg from Toy Story fame!). All her other suggestions include her own name, or the names of her cousins. Needless to say, we will be picking our own name!

JLaw Says:

June 27th, 2011 at 10:40 am

I was 10 years old when my little sister was born. My parents consulted me and my 8 year old brother on what we wanted to name her. We really didn’t have great ideas. But the one name I insisted they didn’t name her was “Nancy”. I had a girl in my class named Nancy who never had clean hair, was a cleptomaniac and used to steal things from kids’ desks (including mine), and who always got in trouble for cursing. Nancy was the worst name, and I remember having a tantrum when they even brought the name up. Of course, Nancy was my maternal grandmother’s name, and the name that they came home from the hospital with. Nancy is now a great name for me, because it symbolizes my sister, and not the snot nosed kid from 4th grade. Now that I’m having my own child, I asked my 7 year old niece what I should name the baby. She said if it’s a girl to name her “Ashley”. Nice name; I’ll consider that. If it’s a boy?, I asked. If it’s a girl, she said we should name it “Popcorn”. Okay. Enough said. So, I would say, you can consider your children’s responses, but ultimately the parents should choose.

Annabelle Says:

July 5th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

My sister was five when I was born, and going through her “Peter Pan” phase. She didn’t talk to our parents for a week when she found out that her little twin brother and sister we not Peter Pan and Tinkerbell Tiger Lily, but Annabelle Lily and Michael Peter. She still calls me Lily to this day.

LaurynMichelle Says:

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:06 pm

when i was born, my brother wanted to name me Christopher (he was obsessed with that name- he had an invisible friend name Christopher and sometimes called himself Christopher) and when my parents asked what he would name me if i was a girl, he said “we’ll sell her!” lol… well christopher was out when the found out i was a girl!

radame7 Says:

March 10th, 2012 at 6:48 pm

My daughter, 9, is not thrilled about her domain being invaded by a baby. In an effort to get her excited about the prospect, we told her she’d have a say in naming her brother. After suggesting “Manuel” and “Ricardo” – both of which we discouraged – she decided on Max (short for Maximus, she insisted). We had already put Maxwell at the top of our list, so we were happy about that. However, 8 months on, I still haven’t decided if our boy is a Max. I don’t want to disappoint Madeline, either. It’s a tricky situation.

MaeBear24 Says:

March 29th, 2012 at 11:42 pm


JadeRain Says:

May 3rd, 2012 at 5:57 pm

According to my three year old daughter, Jade, if the new baby is a girl, she likes the name Lucy. And for a boy, Flower Napkin! Not quite our tastes, I’m afraid.

GrecianErn Says:

August 3rd, 2012 at 3:35 pm

My son Weston had such an unusual name when he was born. And then all of a sudden we hear it everywhere.
When he was about 2, we asked him what he’d name a brother or sister? His reply “Sarah and Dr. Jones!” Too funny. He loved them so much he named some dolls that at his Mimi’s house.
Now that we are TTC, we asked him again (he’s 4 now.) He only wants a baby sister, and he hates our name choice. He wants “Alexis” after his bff. Our #1 right now is Penelope, but seeing that a Kourtney Kardashian named her new daughter Penelope, she probably ruined it for us. It will not skyrocket to popularity like Mason did. Our last name is too common for a popular first name.

tanglevine13 Says:

August 12th, 2012 at 4:55 pm

My younger brother was supposed to be named Rhett Larkin, after Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind. I was two years old and I started sobbing every time they said the name. Michael -my dad’s name- was the only one I liked, so Michael he was named!

AmeliaMae Says:

September 15th, 2012 at 12:35 am

My oldest boy was certain we should name our baby Porter. No matter what I did to shake him from it, he stood by the name resolutely. I didn’t want to disappoint him and come home from the hospital with our baby not named Porter but I didn’t want to just name him Porter because my son wanted it. After all, he can name his own kids someday, right? But my husband loved the name too so having my son also love it pushed me over the edge and we did finally name him Porter. I love that my son loves his brother’s name, but I think next time I will not include my kids on the baby naming process. I just feel it’s my privilege to name my children the names I want because you only get the chance once in a lifetime.

All That Glitters Is Victoria | We Are A Beginning Says:

December 31st, 2012 at 8:33 am

[…] one of my favorite websites, had this brilliant article about how older siblings want a say in naming babies. I laughed hysterically, remembering my […]

amyhmasters Says:

January 26th, 2013 at 8:56 pm

My sons are 7 and 4. The 7 year old is the only one who seems to have any suggestions. I made sure to tell him that Mommy and Daddy are going to name the baby but if they have any suggestions we would be happy to consider them. So far we have from the 7 year old, Lily, Sophia, Olivia, Lisa, and Julia. Not too bad I say…

Dove14 Says:

April 9th, 2013 at 12:01 pm

My eldest wasn’t talking when Baby 2 came along, so no problems there! However, if we do have a third (and that’s a big if) I don’t plan on letting the kids have an actual say in the name. They can give suggestions, certainly, but I would never be happy having to compromise with the ever-changing minds of 2 children.

Lily-Marie Says:

May 27th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I was 8 when my little brother was born. We were all hooked on “Freddie” when he was in the womb, but my mum kept bringing up “Hamish”. Its safe to same me and my siblings hated it but my parents were insistent. To my brothers (and my!) relief, he is now named George William Hamish Instead. Freddie vanished from our heads as soon as we saw him, he just didn’t suit it.

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