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My Nephew Has No Name!

My sister had a baby boy a week ago. She was undecided on a name as she didn't know the gender of the baby ahead of time. She finally decided on a name last night (eight days later) and made the official announcement to family and friends this morning. Tonight she is now saying she doesn't like her choice. I feel so sorry for my nephew. He needs a name so he can have an identity and personality. - Aunt of Nameless

 You're a good-hearted auntie, but don't trouble yourself feeling sorry for the baby. Instead, feel sorry for the parents. They're the ones fighting through new parent haze with the pressure of choosing a name hanging over them every moment. Your nephew, meanwhile, is paying no mind to the naming problem. He's too engrossed in new hobbies like eating, pooping, and learning to focus his eyes.

I do understand your concern. Naming a baby is an important rite of passage. It feels like magic, the way a name can make that mysterious little creature emerge as a person. But as attached as I am to naming, even I know deep down that a tiny infant doesn't truly "need a name so he can have an identity and personality." He just needs care and love, and the name will come soon enough.


While a few nameless weeks don't worry me, there is the small risk of it dragging out into a seriously overdue name. Once you've blown past the normal deadlines, time has a way of slipping by. Worse yet, parents put extra pressure on themselves to come up with something super special because they've waited so long. Maybe they'll even convince themselves that they should get to know the child better to see what name fits. That's when you can find yourself with a big blank space on the first-birthday cake.

If you want some advice to pass on to your sister, I'd tell her this: Don't worry, you have great names to choose from. But the choice is only going to get harder the longer you wait. Put a list of your favorites in front of you and cross them out one by one until you're left with the name you can least bear to part with. Then watch that name become the super-special name of your dreams as it grows up with your son.


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December 7, 2009 1:12 PM
By Savvy Auntie (not verified)


I love your response. At, we've met many aunts who take great interest in the names of their newborn nieces and nephews and share their excitement (and disappointment) with us. While in the end, the name is always the parents' choice, aunts do feel somewhat connected and parents should feel proud their baby's Auntie is that dedicated. On the flip-side, even if Auntie isn't thrilled with a final name choice, she should smile and bear with it. Besides, coming up with a nickname for the baby that's just between baby and Auntie is a lovely way to get around it. And who knows, maybe it will stick!

December 7, 2009 7:11 PM
By GilaB (not verified)

In many cultures, babies aren't named right away, yet they seem to manage to grow up with an identity and personality nevertheless. I agree that letting it drag on for many weeks and months probably isn't a good idea, but the idea of announcing the baby's name at birth (or before!) is cultural, not a basic human need.

December 7, 2009 8:23 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

On another site, there is a baby girl who just received her name at 8 months old due to her mother having severe illness since the baby's birth. Over the 8 months, the parents were able to observe their daughter and choose a name that suited her, not simply their tastes.

December 9, 2009 11:40 AM
By Pamela (not verified)

When I was born in 1947, & there was NO way to know what the sex of a baby was to be, my parents had ONE name picked: GEORGE. (In honor of my grandfather) Mother said Oh, that's easy, we'll just name her Sara, for my mother. Dad said NO WAY---too old-fashioned. (which it was, for the 40's) Dad wanted 'Adrienne', which really was too advanced for the 40's. They reluctantly settled on Pamela as they knew only 1 person w/ that name & thot it would be unique. They didn't even try for a middle name, after THAT battle.....

January 10, 2010 9:50 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My husband's father was ALSO nameless when he left the hospital. There are repercussions to this that you don't realize. Years later, he had to fight to prove his identity and get a driver's license and passport because his birth certificate said, "Baby Boy". The name is less important than the life, and leaving a baby nameless when they're drawing up a birth certificate will come back to haunt you!

January 12, 2010 3:14 PM
By Adrienne (not verified)

I was born 4 month early, so my parents didn't have a name picked out yet, and I was called 'B.G' (for Baby Girl) by the nurses for a long time...

Then my mother got a congratulatory card from my great aunt, Adrienne, and fell in love with way the name looked on paper, and the rest is history...
(also, Pamela, I'm so interested to hear about Adrienne being a choice of your father's in the 1940s! My great aunt was born in Italy around 1916.)

January 13, 2010 2:33 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My mom and dad hadn't agreed on my name either, so for the week my mom spent in hospital (this was 1976!), the nurses referred to me as "little miss no-name."

January 18, 2010 9:57 PM
By midwife mother (not verified)

my son was three weeks old before he had an official name for the birth certificate. we just refered to him as baby boy ----(last name) or little prince since he was. by the time we finally named him patrick we were totally comfortable with it and are still to this day very pleased. it suits him and us. no one had a cow because he was not named, and he is just fine emotionally and in his identity.

February 6, 2010 4:04 PM
By Mo (not verified)

Now days, with everyone having ultrasounds to find out what they are having most people assume that if you don't have a name you're not ready for the baby to come. My youngest brother, now almost 18, was nameless for 2 weeks (they even knew they were having a boy.) When he was born he just didn't look like the name they had chosen. We just called him "Baby" until he was named. He love his name, I mean really loves his name, obviously there was no permanent damage.

February 11, 2010 3:23 PM
By Kerrstin (Care-stin) (not verified)

I knew a girl who when her third child was born went through four names over a one year period before she settled on one. She finally settled on Sebastian after his grandmother but it was hard knowing what to call him the whole time. After all that everyone just calls him Bash. Kinda like Bam-Bam...

I don't think you have to have a name RIGHT away but sooner is better than later.

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