making a baby name list, Picking a name for your baby can take a long time... and can be more complicated than you think
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The Seven Stages of Picking a Name for Your Baby

By Shannon Brescher Shea

Besides labor, picking a name is one of the hardest things about having a baby. It’s rumored that there are couples who have a name for each gender picked out before conception. But for the rest of us, it’s a process fraught with uncertainty, frustration and confusion. We also kind of hope those prepared parents’ kid changes their name during a quarter-life crisis.

While not everyone goes through these, here are seven common stages of picking a baby name:


We’re having a baby! You and your partner are thrilled at the opportunity to pick out a name for your bundle of joy. This stage is especially prominent if it’s your first child. If it’s your second kid, you may skip this stage and go right to the next one.


Now’s the time to buckle down and get serious. Wait, there are more than 400 A names alone? Of course, your favorite one – the one you thought was unique – was the most popular name last year. That’s not good – you remember your sixth grade class with 3 Gregs. But you don’t want the name to be too weird, dooming them to a lifetime of mispronunciations and misspellings. How does anyone deal with this kind of pressure?


Right when you’re starting your freak-out, people inevitably start asking questions. “Have you picked a name yet?” they ask, not knowing the hours you’ve spent scrolling through websites, squinting at hundreds of possible meanings. When you answer “No” in the most off-putting way possible, they either wonder what they did wrong, or worse, offer their own suggestions. “What about…” they start, not knowing that you will unquestionably hate whatever name they offer, because it reminds you of a bully in high school or a character in a hated book. As the conversation goes on and on, your annoyance keeps on growing, like some mutant slime.


That annoyance eventually boils over, usually in your partner’s face. While the exact trigger varies, it’s almost always something that they had no idea would tick you off so much. Maybe it’s their seeming lack of interest in picking a name. Can’t they see this is one of the most important things you’ve ever done together? Maybe they said they didn’t like the name you obsessed over. Either way, you vow to completely exclude them from the process, deciding to tell them only after the name is on the birth certificate.


You forgive your spouse, buckle down and make a decision. Maybe one of you gives up or you come to a compromise. Even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, that’s the kid’s name. You’re stuck with it now, whether because it’s on the birth certificate or it would be too much of a pain to return all the personalized stuff.


A few days later, terror seizes you. What if we picked wrong? Doesn’t the spelling look weird? What if my kid will be the victim of a quarter-life crisis? What have we done?


You accept that this is your child’s name, for better or worse. It may take weeks or even months to reach this stage. My son is 2 1/2 and I still think the spelling of his name looks funny, even though it’s the standard one. But one day, you’ll call your child by that name and realize that you couldn’t imagine them calling them anything else.

Related: Test Your Baby Name

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