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Is It Too Soon To Talk About Baby Names?

When is the best time to decide on a baby's name? I love names and I had lots of ideas for names that I liked before my husband and I got serious about having a baby. But now that we're planning on starting a family soon, we've started sharing some name ideas with one another. I really don't like any of the names that he suggests and I'm shocked by his reactions to some of my favorite names. It's getting frustrating to even bring them up, because we're both so afraid of hurting the others' feelings.

I worry that it will only get worse once I'm pregnant, because then I'll be even more emotional about names. Should we decide on the names before we get pregnant so that we can both make the decision when we're as level-headed as we can be? Or will that cause more problems than solutions?
- Planner

If you love names, you probably love talking about names. (Hey, so do I!) So feel free to get started: happily, there's no wrong time to talk baby names with the future father of your children. But you’d probably enjoy the conversations more if you didn’t feel like there were a clock counting down the minutes until you had to come to an agreement with him on just one.

Try to ignore that clock—it doesn’t really exist. For the moment, you and your husband are just two people learning about each other in a new way, as baby namers. When one of you brings up a name the other hates, instead of reacting with repulsion or fear, go with questions: Why does he like that name? Why do you hate it? What does that name mean to each of you? You might hear a story about his high school experience and the hopes he has for a future daughter; he might learn more about your favorite musician and the way his music influences your dreams for a son. It’s a pleasure-focused approach rather than a plan-focused one, concentrating on the joy of talking about names rather that the frustration with disagreeing over them. Because this is a great time to be talking about names, but way too early to be stressing over them or committing to a final choice.

Who’s to say what lies ahead on your and your husband’s path to become parents? It could happen quickly, or take time and struggle. You could have a boy or a girl, a single child or multiples. You could pick a name tomorrow and eventually bestow it on your child with confident joy…or sense three years later that it’s no longer your style but feel trapped by the decision you made so early. You could struggle to find a name for months, only to have life events—a trip with your husband to a special destination, the passing away of an older family member—reveal the perfect name to you in a flash.

Maybe these roundabout conversations will lead you to the “right” name before you are pregnant. Maybe life will have something else in store. At least you will enjoy the conversation along the way, whether or not it was planned like that. Then you'll be in good shape when the time comes to move past talk to final choices, which is sometime between two blue lines on the stick and Braxton-Hicks contractions.


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June 11, 2012 12:14 PM
By meg (not verified)

we had names picked out before we were even married, lol. it's never too early!

June 11, 2012 12:34 PM
By Kayt (not verified)

We thought we had names picked out before we had baby number two, but then she up and told us and Grammy her name was supposed to be something else! Irritated me, too, because I'm a planner and not very woo-woo/hippie. I would have laughed you out of the room if you'd told me that Fiona would tell me and my husband and Grammy on different days in different ways that she was girl and her name was Fiona. It wasn't even a name we'd considered! We had argued and debated and weighed all the options carefully before selecting a girl and a boy name before we started trying, and they got tossed!

June 11, 2012 6:35 PM
By Erinne (not verified)

Here's the way we did it: Before we knew the baby's gender, my husband was in charge of choosing a boy name and I got the girl name. Since we didn't know the sex yet, we each had equal power to choose something we loved but the other hated, but then the other could do the same. For example, he liked Paul, I said fine, but if it's a girl, I'm choosing Hazel. He said, "no, hate Hazel," I said "fine, then get rid of 'Paul.'" Forced compromise, I guess!
We didn't start naming until we were pregnant. I love names and had been thinking about it for years, but he doesn't really like names generally and won't talk about it until we're actually expecting.

June 12, 2012 1:42 AM
By Anonymouse (not verified)

I'm not a mother, but one thing I've learned by being in a very long-term relationship is to be mutually generous. Think about other areas of your life- surely the two of you don't have identical taste in movies, but there's enough of an overlap that you can enjoy a trip to the cinema together, right? Taste is taste, and respecting preferences is crucial. The goal is to find overlap with kindness and generosity.

June 12, 2012 12:11 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I find it interesting that some men think they have an equal say in the matter of naming a baby when the woman is the one who is going to carry and push the baby right out of the vagina.
That said, I picked all the names and my husband veto the ones he disliked and approved the ones he liked. We ended up with one perfect name we both loved.

June 12, 2012 12:23 PM
By Maureen (not verified)

I started with a list of names about 120 for each gender. My husband cut it down to 20 names.

Right before we found out if it was a boy or girl, we talked about the 20 names, and discovered we couldn't actually agree on a boys name AT ALL. The ones at the top of his list were on my I-guess-that-is-ok sort of level, and vice-versa.

We talked about girls names, and realized we both were in total agreement about a girls name.

Turns out we are having a girl! So its been an easier decision that in could have been. If it were a boy, we would probably have gone out and started with a new list of dozens of names to pare down slowly.

June 12, 2012 12:30 PM
By Corhea (not verified)

I love names and I've been thinking of my kids' names since I was a toddler, haha! My tastes have changed constantly as I've grown - even since a few years ago.
My husband and I have had a boys name picked out since before we were married but our first child was a girl and I didn't think we'd ever agree on anything!(We did manage to find something we both love!)
Now, we chat baby names here and there and I keep a running list of the ones we agree on so when it's time to pick another one we can pull from a pre-approved list. I'm hoping this will make our decision a little simpler next time if we have another girl ;)

June 12, 2012 12:33 PM
By ValenzMom (not verified)

When we were first married and talked about baby names, I wanted to name our first girl Adrianna because my husband's middle name is Adrian. He vetoed that right away because a girl he liked in high school named Adrianna had committed suicide. I had to be sympathetic to his feelings on that one even though I still love the name.

June 12, 2012 1:44 PM
By Mama2Clara (not verified)

When I was first pregnant, I poured over names. The boy name we came up with before we knew the gender. Our first was a girl and we came to a decision several months before her birth, but had back up names just in case. We did infact use the boys name for our second child who was a boy since it had already been picked out. I have no name regrets. We plan on a possible 3rd baby, and I have a running list with ideas, but I know it will be atleast 2 to 3 years before it happens. Since we are not expecting currently, he gets annoyed if I mention names, he feels like I am rushing it. So until then I keep my list and try to mention names to often. BTW-You have plenty of time to choose a name.

June 12, 2012 2:40 PM
By CP (not verified)

I second the suggestion that you go ahead and talk names but keep it light and don't feel like you have to come to a decision now. Twenty years ago if you had asked me for my top baby names, I would have told you Benjamin & Emma. By the time I had my first child, there were two Benjamins in my family and Emma was incredibly popular - both things we wanted to avoid. Also, from my first child to my 6th, our tastes have both changed.

Another thought- seems like many guys tend to stick with a name once it is picked, even if time passes and circumstances change - I have friends who tried to conceive for many years. Early in their marriage they had talked about baby names & had said they would really like Noelle or Noah. When they finally got pregnant, as far as "Dad" was concerned, they had already chosen names. And again, with their second, "Mom" sort of wanted to revisit names but he only wanted to revisit names if they had another girl, which they didn't. My brother-in-law was the same way. He didn't want to revisit names unless they absolutely had to.

June 12, 2012 2:43 PM
By Allison Margaret (not verified)

We're expecting our first. We don't know the sex yet, but we've had the boy name picked for longer than we've been married (3 years) and have been playing with the same few girls' names for that long as well. We finalized the girl combination two weeks after we found out I was pregnant. I love talking about names, so not discussing them is not really an option for us, haha. The down side of this is there's no possible way we could keep the names a secret until the baby is born even if we wanted to!

June 12, 2012 2:43 PM
By Meghan Eileen (not verified)

My husband and I had our daughter's name (Catherine Theta) picked out 3 years before we even decided to try to conceive. Catherine ended up becoming Katherine, but we never talked about boy names at all. However, with our second baby, a boy, we did not decide on a name until I was 36 weeks along! I strongly loved the name Judah, and my husband could not find a first name he really loved, but knew he wanted Joshua as the middle name, so our son become Judah Joshua.

June 12, 2012 3:10 PM
By Anne (not verified)

We had a ten-long list of names before we got married... We've used four of them so far, though with some middle name changes, and we've had one queue-jumper that came to me in a dream and wasn't on our original list... We've also come up with some more for the list since. :)

June 12, 2012 6:46 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Agree with all of above, have fun discussing names and their meanings for the two of you, without pressure, and know that even if you agree on the "perfect" names, your kids might very possibly turn out to be called something else. I remember discussing names with my (now ex) partner, on holiday in northern Europe in the dead of winter, just before we started trying to conceive. We were in love and excited about having a baby and were both blown away by the beauty and wonder of seeing the aurora borealis.... and decided then that Aurora was the perfect girl's name for us. Fast forward a number of years - we didn't manage to get pregnant, we split up, more years passed, and now I have a one year old daughter named Philippa. Que sera sera!

June 12, 2012 7:18 PM
By Sally Odgers (not verified)

My husband and I agreed he could have the final say if our first was a boy, and me if it was a girl (we picked James and Jillian respectively). We had a boy, James, and I suggested he should share a second name with my husband. We ended up with a quite timeless name. With our second, we swapped; I could have the final say for a boy (I picked Jonathan Robert) and he for a girl (he picked Tegan). We had a girl. I had the say to adept the middle name he liked to a very similar family name. When we were expecting our grandchildren, our son and his wife wouldn't discuss names with us (or with anyone else) at all, which was their right of course, but I was a bit disappointed. I love names. Fortunately, they picked a lovely set for their boy and girl. They were not names I would have chosen (wouldn't even have thought of them), but I loved them on first hearing.

June 12, 2012 8:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think men SHOULD have an equal say in what the baby is named - provided they will be the 'dad' to the baby. I don't see how pregnancy and labor plays into it. In my case, my mother named me and then took off when I was a few months old and my Dad was stuck with the name she'd chosen. Since he ended up being my only parent, I think he should have had ALL the say - labor or not!

June 16, 2012 10:19 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I talk about names all the time, and always have since my husband and I were just dating. It's something he knows is just one of my quirks, and he married me despite it! One thing in favor of frequent conversations: when we were discussing conceiving baby #2, I started suggesting a particular boy name to my husband, I name I'd always loved and he just didn't care for at all. I'd suggest it, he'd wrinkle his nose and veto it, and then I wouldn't bring it up again for a while. But then a few weeks later, I'd mention it again ... I kept this up through my whole pregnancy and my husband actually came around and decided he liked it after all! Son #2 has the name, it's perfect for him and both my husband and I love it. Perseverance pays off!

June 20, 2012 1:15 PM
By C. Andrews (not verified)

I agree that there's no reason Dad shouldn't have an equal say. Yeah, you go through labor for a few hours or days, but you're both going to be raising and providing for the child. Anyway, we had a list of 50 boy and 50 girl names from the time we found out we were pregnant. It's never too early to start the discussion. And if you have trouble deciding, have each partner write out a list of favorites and the share them and see where your common ground lies.

July 7, 2012 1:17 PM
By Megan (not verified)

My husband and I started talking about baby names as soon as we started dating! I know that sounds odd, but I am a self-admited baby name addict (I think up baby names ALL the time, whether they're for me, for a friend, for a family member, for characters in a story...) and my husband is 5 years older than me; while we're both young, he always thought he'd have children by the time he was 25 and he was older than that by the time we started dating. He made it very clear to me that he wanted kids - SOON - which worked perfectly for me because I want "a ton" and the sooner you start, the easier it is to have a larger family.

We have a son now - Lincoln James - which we came to a decision on before we were engaged. Lincoln has been my husband's favorite name for awhile (he's a gamer; Legend of Zelda was his favorite game series and he always wanted a boy named Link). He originally suggested Lincoln Gannon, which I vetoed. James has been my favorite boy's name for my entire life. I actually always thought I'd marry someone named James, but when that didn't happen - I knew I had to use it for a son. I wanted James Wilson (my maiden name was Williams, so I felt Wilson would honor that without using William) and James is also throughout both of our family trees. So it was easy to stick those two names together.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was still set on Lincoln for a boy. We've planned on having 3-4 kids (my husband has agreed to 3 for sure, but I'm trying to push him to 4. LOL), so the other boy name I really loved: Nathaniel, I figured I would get to use in the future.

However, further on in my pregnancy, the hormones hit and my name obsession/slight neurosis went from a quirk that is mildly irritating in conversations to full craziness. I doubted the choice Lincoln because our last name ends in "TON" and I felt like it would just sound the same. I spent MONTHS trying to get my husband to change the boy name from Lincoln James to Nathaniel James.

My husband, bless his heart, simply said that Lincoln was his favorite name and he couldn't give it up. He said if I let him name his son Lincoln, then he would give up ANY AND ALL rights to veto any names in the future. So, I let it be.

My son's name fits him PERFECTLY. His name has meaning to both of us and I honestly feel like we couldn't have found a better name. While I do still love the name Nathaniel, I don't think it would have fit him at all.

I definitely agree that you should find a name you love PRIOR to the pregnancy, simply because of my own round of hormonal craziness.

BUT, my husband is like a lot of other men mentioned above: he doesn't like to revisit baby names.

He has never really wanted daughters. So he never discussed girl names with me until we started trying to get pregnant .At that time, my favorite girls name was Penelope, with Susannah in #2. He liked Susannah better, so if my son had been a girl, he would have been Susannah Mae.

Up until recently, I had baby #2 name options being Nathaniel Bennett and Penelope Wren. While I still LOVE those names, I'm one of those crazy people who want the names of children to sound similar in style. For me, Nathaniel and Penelope sound perfect together - they both have that old-timey feel and they both have ties to classical literature. But I'm not crazy about them with Lincoln.

I've been trying to get my husband to discuss names with me, but he dug his heels in about it ("We already picked them out, why do we have to do this again?" and "We're not even pregnant yet."). We're aiming to get pregnant in October, so he's FINALLY speaking with me about it.

(Just for anyone who's wondering, we're aiming for Early American names now. My top choices for a boy are Silas and Roland and my top choices for a girl are Amelia and Caroline. )

So, again, I don't think there's any reason NOT to talk about baby names. I don't think it's a conversation that's ONLY appropriate for pregnant women. I LOVE talking baby names, even if it's only in theory, and I would hate to feel like that conversation is only available to me for 9 months out of a year and not even every year! I feel like it's something that you should constantly revisit if you feel that you need to. A name is something your child (most likely) is "stuck with" forever and you want it to have meaning to you AND your spouse. If you want to talk about it; talk about it!

July 16, 2012 5:59 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I say discuss as much as you want now, but don't finalize anything yet and keep your options open. When I was about 7 months pregnant, we decide on the name Katrina. We both liked it, but it had no real meaning. Then two weeks before I was due, my husband said, "I wish my gandma were alive to see my baby." I asked what her name was, hoping it would be one of those old-fashioned names coming back into style, Emma, Sophia, etc. It was Janet, which was an alright name for her time, but not these days. So I started thinking of alternatives, Jan, Jana, Jane, Janette, Janelle. Janelle? My grandma's name was Nellie. Janelle Autumn was born two weeks later on the first day of fall. Good thing we kept our options open even after we "decided," because we wouldn't have discovered a name we both love with so much meaning that never appeared on either of our lists. Good luck!

October 5, 2012 8:11 PM
By Anonymous

It was really honoured to be apart of it.

October 8, 2012 2:39 AM
By قفطان (not verified)

This site is excellent and so is how the subject matter was explained. I also like some of the comments too. Looking forward to your next post.

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