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My Husband Won't Name Our Baby!

My husband and I are expecting our first child this year and he doesn't like any names! No matter how traditional or unusual the name, he always turns his nose up. How can I help him discover names that he likes? I've asked him to look up names himself, but he is still incredibly picky. He doesn't have to like the names I do, I just want him to like something!

–Not as Picky About Names

Perhaps it will help to know, my not-so picky pal, that you're in good company. Over the years, I've responded to scores of questions from women like you, frustrated that their naming partners seem to be both full of criticisms and utterly short on ideas. I'll suggest some strategies for helping your husband tone down his name-negativity below. But first, I'd like to suggest a thought experiment.

Imagining your adult future—where you will live, what you will do, who you will marry, how many kids you will have—is a part of childhood for so many little girls. And fantasizing about names goes along with that! Perhaps at some point in elementary school you declared you would have three girls named Caitlin, Annabel, and Gwen. Or maybe your best friend in college told you she had dibs on the name Lucas if either of you ever had boys. Even if you yourself didn't spend much time considering names for future kids, you knew people who did. You learned how to imagine names detached from real people in the here and now and instead view them as signs of future potential, ways of picturing those who don't exist yet.

I doubt your husband had this experience. He likely never considered names in the abstract, in their essences, apart from the lovely or annoying people they were already attached to, until ... well, right now. And the nine short months before a mother or father's life is completely changed by the arrival of a baby is a fairly fraught time to learn a new skill, wouldn't you say?

But still, your baby needs a name. And it's preferable that both parents appreciate it and feel like their desires were represented in its choosing. So while you can sympathize with your husband's struggle with this mental shift to Dad Mode, it's fair to also insist he participate in the naming process (as something more than a perpetual thumbs-down dispenser).

Now for the practical advice: Reframing this name conversation into something more familiar, less intimidating, or just plain fun could help your husband get on board. March Madness may be wrapping up, but in your house, Name Madness could be just beginning! Set up one of the Baby Name Wizard name brackets and then let him do the pair-by-pair eliminations to come up with a winner (or inspire him to throw out a few suggestions of his own). If games aren't his thing, perhaps a firm deadline is. You could give him a list of your top three to five names and ask him to rank them (or choose one) by a specific date. Or you could use the element of surprise—ask for his opinion on two names a pregnant "friend" of yours is considering.

No matter the approach, try to keep the stakes low and emotions on an even keel. Having him join you in one of your first real decisions as a family matters more than what name you eventually choose. Teaching him to dream about the baby behind the name: That's the ultimate goal.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

March 30, 2015 4:23 PM
By Brooke (not verified)

I saw some practical advice for this somewhere else (but I can't remember where). Put your top ten names on a list on the fridge. Tell your husband: "you can't take anything off this list unless you can suggest something better."

March 31, 2015 10:42 AM
By ClaireP (not verified)

Maybe I had a husband who was more into word play, but we would come up with totally un-serious lists of potential names, and laugh over them. When nothing can be vetoed, and everything sounds funny, it gets the ball rolling. Once the name "Smegma" has been suggested for your daughter-to-be, something like "Elizabeth" doesn't sound so bad.

March 31, 2015 12:27 PM
By Suz (not verified)

My husband was/is the same way. He never suggested a single boy's name but said ehhhh to all my choices. I made him narrow down my choices to a few top ones and said that's it. Luckily we had a girl - which I didn't even give him a choice b/c I thought of a certain name and loved it. He was fine with it and never complained.

Now having a second girl, and we are both having a little bit of a struggle. I don't have that "perfect" name this time but I have a list of about 10 ideas. He has yet to give any ideas. When it comes down to it, I'm fine with picking if he's not going to suggest any options.

PS I did not grow up dreaming of getting married and naming babies at all and had no friends who did either... so coming up with names doesn't happen for us until we actually know there is one on the way.

April 6, 2015 9:27 AM
By Mary (not verified)

I ended up kind of making my husband's list for him. Characters from TV shows and books I knew he liked, names of childhood crushes, relatives he was close to and might want to honor. He didn't love any of the names I pulled from the sources at first, but anything he didn't immediately dismiss as horrible, I wrote down and kept anyway. The longer a name stayed on "his list," I noticed, the more he ended up liking it. It gave him time to get used to the name and to the idea of it on his own child.

April 26, 2015 11:30 AM
By Kim (not verified)

I think the babies were much more abstract for my husband than they were for me (well, I was nauseated for most of my pregnancies - it was a very visceral experience.) So it was harder for him to get on board, especially in the beginning.
It helped to have basic parameters - neither of us like naming after live relatives or surnames/professions as firsts, with our first I wanted a G initial to honor my late stepfather, with our second he wanted a Roman rather than biblical name. With our second, I came up with her name in the hour after we got her amnio results. When hubs got home, I told him, this is her name, unless you can talk me out of it. But he liked it too.
TL;DR It will all be ok.

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