Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Name Etiquette

So this post earlier this week stirred up quite a bit of discussion - thanks for joining in ya'll - and reminded me that there can be A LOT of drama surrounding the naming of a new baby.  Since I'm all about helping resolve drama in the world, I thought I'd put together a few basic rules of Baby Name Etiquette for you today.  But first, a little personal anecdote...

When we first found out we were having a boy, I wanted to name him "Max."  I loved the name - still do.  (Seriously, how awesome is Max Chapman?)  But, Jeff's dad said it sounded like a dog name, and Jeff just couldn't handle that so... We moved on.  Fast forward about eight months and my friend Pryor, her husband, and their two dogs (one of which is actually named Max) are in town to visit and meet our new baby - Sam.  In casual conversation, I mention that I really wanted to name Sam "Max."  Pryor and Gregg give each other a look.  Then, she explains... Apparently, they had originally named their Max "Sam."  But, after a couple of months of discussion and debate, they decided they really liked the name too much and wanted to save it for a future baby.  So... they changed his name to "Max" - problem solved.  Until... two weeks later, I (totally oblivious to all of this) sent out an email announcing that we had decided on a name for our baby boy... SAM. 

Did you follow that story at all?  If so, then you get my gist here... Is "Sam" off limits for my friends now?  Even though, clearly, they loved it before I "claimed" it. 

It's touchy really. But, here are a few basics I'm feeling:
1. You should NOT give your child the same name as anyone in the same generation that you see/interact with more than once every two months and/or of which you share more than 25% of the same social group. (Fair?)

2. A name is officially "claimed" upon its announcement - NOT once the child is born. *For the love, do NOT pop your baby out first and steal it from right under their noses. It's a race to the announcement people. And, if you choose to keep your name a secret, you just run that risk.  I'm sorry.

NOTE: This does not apply to the naming of "maybe babies."  A baby must be in utero before the name becomes "off limits" for those falling into either of the categories mentioned in point #1.  Fantasy names (you know, the ones we jot down in notebooks from the time we are 12) are fair game.  One must carefully consider the pros ("claiming" a name early and hoping that people will respect it as yours) and cons (throwing your name out there for all the world to see - and use) before discussing fantasy names with others.

3. The more creative and personal a name is, the more one should steer away from "copying" or "stealing" it.  (This even applies to "maybe baby" names in certain situations.)
4. IF someone does steal your baby name - and you legitimately had it first - consider it a "compliment." (Yea right, I know.) Seriously though, everyone that knows you both knows you had it first. And, everyone that doesn't know you both doesn't care. Besides, chances are one of you will move (or unfriend each other) before the kids enter Kindergarten. However, in the unlikely event that said same-name kids do end up in the same class one day, it is the responsibility of the SECOND named (see #2) to adopt a nickname pronto.

5. In the end, remember that it really is just a name.  Sure, names are important; but, ultimately, it will be your child's character, quirks, and personality that define them and set them apart.  (Not to get too sentimental or anything.)  If you really have your heart set on a name and someone else uses it first - just be honest about it, have a good laugh with your friend, and then - for goodness sake - give your kid that name.  Now it will be up to them to make it mean something. 

Now tell me, what "rules" would you add to this list?

P.S. Pryor and Gregg, I've talked it over with Sam Sr., and we've decided that we are fine with you using the name "Sam" for a child of yours one day.  The only condition is that you give him the name "Chapman Junior" for a middle name.  Fair enough?


  1. E--- I agree with you on the baby name drama associated with stealing names. Piper was supposed to be Declan Andrew if she was a he. A friend had a baby a few days before Piper and named him Declan. Now the name is out of the running for potential future boy names! There are enough names out there to name your child something different.

    I think the except is maybe a family name that you have always planned to use.


  2. love this! I don't have any sweet babies of my own yet but couldn't agree more! I think it boils down to if you see them- and how often- and if its a family name for you or not... then just naming your child what you feel like is the right name!

    ps- we LOVE the name Max :) (a family name) but I'm NOT claiming it- due to no bebe's in the womb yet.

  3. A friend of ours named her son Jack, too. He was born a few months after our Jack. It doesn't bother me at all...we don't see each other often, and I think it's fun for there to be another Jack!

    One thing my family talks about a lot is who gets the family names! My mothers maiden name is Blaise, and my brothers name is Blaise. Great name, right? My older sister thinks only one of us (namely, she) should get to use it. I think, if we are using it as a middle name, the more the merrier. It would be fun for all four of us siblings to have a child with the middle name Blaise!

    But your post makes me think about one thing that bugs me...dogs with people names. I have always wanted to name a little girl Lucy Bech (Lucy for Narnia, and Bech for my husband). My mother-in-law knows this and yet she named a dog Lucy. Ugh. I still love the name, but I don't think I can bear for my child to share a name with the family dog!

  4. I agree with most of your points, but will have to list an exception to the 'note' on number 2. Naturally, the exception will be made for couples experiencing years of infertility who have their hearts set on a particular name. The fact that my daughter has not yet in utero/been GIVEN the name is not for a lack of trying, and I pity the fool that steals it out from under me just because they can! For each year of infertility, The Name becomes even MORE sacred and friends and family members should treat it with even more respect. Ha. Luckily for everyone that knows me, I only have one name, a girl name, with hard dibs (I chose it in 2002, long before I knew how difficult it'd be to GET the dang kid) it shouldn't cramp anyone's style TOO much.

  5. Funny that you wanted to name your son "Max," because that is my son's middle name! "Max" is my husband's and his father's middle name, and we wanted to carry that through with our first-born son (who is now 2.5 months old). We had actually discussed using it as the first name, but came to the same conclusion you did, so we chose "Jacob" instead. I lost a few choice names because they had also been pet names at one time.

    I am a high school teacher, and I found that I had a very tough time choosing a name, thanks to associations I made with specific names to specific students.

    We chose to wait until our son was born to announce his name, though we did give out the middle name early on. Some members of my husband's family were very... how could I put it... judgmental (maybe?) about what we were going to name our baby. It was my husband's idea to wait until our baby was born, and I happily went along with it. As he put it, "They'll love him no matter what the name, and whatever we pick is what we pick. No arguments."

    Who knew that baby names could be so complicated???

  6. I'm banking on the fact that my family won't read this, but my brother-in-law & his wife plan to name their baby girl (should they ever have one) Abigail...which happens to be the name I would have chosen if I had a girl. I didn't- I had two boys instead. But there is a tiny part of me that is very very upset that they dare to name their girl the exact same name I would have chosen. What if I had a third and it was a girl? I would have to choose a different name?
    I generally could care less about baby name drama, but this is one thing that has been eating at me for a while... (& yes, they know what I would name a girl if I had one...

  7. E-

    I totally agree with these rules. I had my heart set on a certain name for years. Made it known, then someone I knew tried naming their kid that name when they found out they were pregnant with a girl (we were expecting a boy but didnt know it yet) and we were furious!! Drama started and now their little girl is something else and I have my boy. No one used the name. Suits us both! Ha ha!

  8. I totally agree! In fact, one of our top choices for a girl's name is Claire, but then I made a mommy-friend who's daughter's name is Claire. My husband thinks that it would be completely fine to use it if we have a girl in the future, but I'd feel like I was scamming her name!

  9. I totally agree. Thankfully my son was named for family members.

  10. E- I love this post. You are so right. One of my friends decided to name her baby girl the same name as her childhood friend (Who she sees at least twice a month) but the problem was this friend used the name for her son. Needless to say, she has created a little issue between them since she not only used the same name but made it a girls name :) BTW the name is Bryn.. I wish she read your blog because she would get it.. Hope your doing well .. Miss you so!

  11. I feel like you can name your baby whatever you want, regardless of what someone else names their baby. After all, they might not even been in your life 5 years from now so why would you let someone else's choice determine yours?

    Just food for thought...

  12. Cn I just say YES and YES! I totally agree. I debate sharing names sometimes because I don't want people to steal MY names,but then I think that if I DO share then I've claimed them, right?

  13. Do you remember when YOU stole MY girl name for YOUR dog? I do. Love you anyway.

  14. Hahaha! I love it! :)


  15. I love baby names, and could discuss them all day. Unfortunately, there will be no more baby names for me so I will live through all of you.

    My son was fairly easy. We used family names, and kept the name a secret, but the before we knew it was boy...I tossed around girl names. One of which was Anderson ( a family name) and I wanted to call her Andi. We, of course, had a boy. I never considered that name for a boy. Truthfully, I don't even know if my husband was sold on it for a girl.

    Fast forward two years later, and a good friend of mine who lives here in town, casually told me what they were going to name their son who would be born in three or four months time. She picked Anderson. I admit that I was not happy about that, but also I was not pregnant again, and at my age, I didn't know if there would be a baby number 2 so I had to take it for what it was...but secretly, I stomped around about it for awhile, and even did it again in 2009.

    In 2009, I was pregnant with my daughter. The name Anderson was ruined for me, and I still loved the nickname Andi, and really wanted to use it, but just didn't want to use Anderson any longer due to my close friend using that for her son. Naming our daughter was difficult because we couldn't agree. I thought about Alexandra, and still using Andi, but it's not a common nickname for Andi. Bottom line, we went with your name which was the name of a friend's daughter who I don't see often. My friend uses the formal name whereas we use the nickname Liza. I admit though that I had some issues with naming my daughter the same name as my friend, but I got over it because her first daughter who was born shortly after my son has my middle name, Anna.

    Follow that????

  16. I think it depends a lot on the person who is stealing your baby name! My Daddy's name was Charles but everyone called him Charley. After he died (and way before I was pregnant or even trying) I knew/prayed/hoped that I would have a daughter and name her Charley! EVERYONE knew I wanted Charley girl! My sister was 6 months ahead of me in her pregnancy (with a girl) and they could NOT decide on a name! She jokingly said "maybe I'll just name her Charley" and I replied "then we'll have 2 Charley girls and everyone will know you jacked my name"! LOL!! She did NOT name her daughter Charley and I DID! It fits her to a tee!! My son is Tyler (which was my moms maiden name). And my other daughter is Ruby (which wast Daddy's birthstone!). I have some friends (who live in another state) who tried for several years to get pregnant. After I had my Charley, they said they had always wanted to name their potential daughter Charlee but didn't want to copy me.......I told them I didn't mind AT ALL! So, they have their "Charlee" girl and I have my "Charley" girl. I always said if I had another girl after Charley that I would name her Zaley. Well, I became pregnant and decided that as much as I LOVED the name Zaley that it wasn't a good name for a grown woman (so we went with Ruby). I had a "friend" that was pregnant with a girl (our Ruby had alreadyade her debut and everything) when she announced that they were thinking they were going to used name.....Zaley! It just went all over me (I KNOW.......silly). So, we got a puppy and named her Zaley! They didn't name their daughter Zaley but they DID me her Allie (which is what my sister ended up naming her daughter!). My sisters response was " can't they come up with their own names?!?" LOL!!

  17. so i was just thinking about your post....there is an instance in which i do not feel bad using a name that a friend or sort of mutual friend has used. that instance is when i have already planned on using it even if i did not publicize it. one of my favorite girl names has been used by two friends of a friend and i think that i don't care. even though we may interact every few months - they did not know it was one of my names - and i like it enough that i would use it regardless. i think that is me being a little stubborn though.

  18. Our son is going on 17 months next week. My wife's sister is pregnant with her second child (their first child being a daughter 6 days younger than our son) and just today found out it is a boy. Well, today they announced they will be naming their son the same name as our son.

    My wife is quite upset about this, and has said something to her sister about it. Her sister, does not care.

    Our feeling is this is beyond stealing and will complicate matters during family gatherings (which is (was) as often as once every other week) for the children. They did the same with their daughters name only they named her after a cousins daughter, without asking, and without caring.

    Are we out of line?

  19. Ok I have a situation.... My husband is a II and we have 2 daughters however he has another daughter from someone else. My daughters are the oldest and the youngest and have always live with both my husband and I, while his other daughter has only been in our lives for a few years now (their ages are 23, 22, 18). Well the 22year old is now pregnant with her 2nd child and publicly announced she was or is going to name her child after my husband... Here's the problem it has always been that in our family if I didn't have a boy that the oldest daughter had right to use her daddy's name making that child the III (she is in college and not in the baby or marriage program yet her school is the main focus). This being said the other child said she doesn't care she will maybe think about only using one of my husbands names. Needless to say its causing a BIG problem in the family! Any suggestions or if there is anything about continuing the fathers name when only girls are involved it being the oldest child's right? PLEASE HELP!!!!!

  20. I don't think you can call dibs on a name if it is a very popular name. It's popular because many people like it...and chances are a friend of yours may be one of those people who also like it. That is all. :)

  21. What would you do if everyone wants the baby named after them? I'm not pregnant, but this has always worried me. Especially if the names, well, SUCK! My father in law and my husband's middle names are Rex - talk about sounding like a dog! My husband hates it thankfully so no worries there. I personally think everyone should have their own original first name having nothing to do with the family and then maybe a middle name that means something to the family. The only problem is that a child can only have so many middle names, and I'm not a fan of multiple middle names myself. I don't want to upset anyone with naming my children, but at the same time, they all had their chance to name their children whatever they wanted so I think my husband and I should get to pick out whatever we want if and when we have children.


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