Ask the Name Guru: Should I Change My Toddler's Name?

In my Ask The Name Guru column today, reader [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u] asks if she should change her 19-month-old daughter’s name from [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] to [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] has a male cousin, one year older, named [name_u]Reilly[/name_u], and the two will go to school together for twelve years. But what makes things more complicated is that [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u] seems to prefer the name [name_u]Remi[/name_u] anyways! And she just found out her second child is a boy, so this feels like the last chance to use [name_u]Remi[/name_u].

What do you think? Is it too late to switch to [name_u]Remi[/name_u], or should she go for it?

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On one hand, I really don’t think the cousin connection is that big of a deal. If they don’t have a familial connection, then having a random kid a year above you in school who happens to have the same name as you won’t be life changing. And as for her actually preferring the name [name_u]Remi[/name_u], I could actually see it as a nickname for [name_u]Rylee[/name_u]. They sound similar enough that they could just call her that but still keep [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] as her legal name so the family that are connected to her being [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] can still call her that if they want to, and she can choose in the future which to go by. I would even say they could legally change her middle name or just add a middle name of [name_u]Remi[/name_u] to make the nickname make even more sense if they want to, but I don’t even think that’s necessary.

On the other hand, while yes, a 19 month old does definitely understand their name, I don’t think it would be too big of a deal to change it. Kids are super resilient, and I know people who have adopted kids at all different ages and stages, and changing their name really isn’t as difficult as you would think it would be. [name_m]Even[/name_m] a toddler will probably adapt to the new name fairly quickly and easily. That being said, since [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] isn’t a baby, maybe they should actually ask her what she likes? Maybe they don’t have to automatically accept her decision because she can’t possibly understand all the nuance of picking a name, but I do think she’s old enough to have a preference, and if she expresses she would hate to be called [name_u]Remi[/name_u] then maybe don’t force her to change it. [name_u]Or[/name_u] on the flip side, if she says she loves the name [name_u]Remi[/name_u], then maybe start calling her that as I suggested, or even do go ahead and change it.

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If someone feels so strongly about changing their baby’s name they should go for it!
[name_u]Remi[/name_u] and [name_u]Riley[/name_u] are very similar so it wouldn’t be a huge change. I don’t think other people tend to care as much as we think they will. Close family might say something but ultimately you have to choose what is best for your child.
Also, having distant cousins with the same name that will be around each other so often would also make me want to switch to a nickname, middle name, or find another way to differentiate before school starts.

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A cousin with a similar name doesn’t seem like a strong enough reason that the name should be changed, no. But it really sounds like [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u] wants to. If that’s the case, that’s really all the reason she needs.

On the other hand, I’d love to see [name_u]Remi[/name_u] on a boy. So if she’s mostly just sad she didn’t get to use [name_u]Remi[/name_u], I have a preferred solution and it’s not changing Rylee’s name :innocent:

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I don’t think having Rylee and Reilly is that big of a deal, and I agree that the main issue seems to be regretting now using Remi. My biggest question is: does she know her name? Does she babble Ry-Ry or turn her head when you call Rylee? If she relates to her own name, I would definitely consider that in favor of keeping Rylee.

My next thought would be to call her Remi for a week and see what happens. Does it feel like a puzzle coming together or do you revert to “Rylee… I mean Remi”? Just some ideas to consider.

I think it’s also important to point out that she can go by Remi (or her middle name, or another name) without legally changing it. Maybe thinking of it socially rather than officially will help make it easier.

Good luck!

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If the kid is close to two years old I would say it’s too late to change the name. They are likely already somewhat familiar with [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] as their name. Changing it now would just confuse the child. If the cousin is distant and a whole year older than your child I do not understand why they should feel they have to change the name. The cousin is unlikely to be in the child’s life and likely won’t notice the name similarity unless called on the intercom at school or the wrong report card is given. I say you can change the child’s name between birth and 6 months before it becomes an issue with the child and family members knowing your child’s name. If grandma has been calling them [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] since birth and they are now almost 2 it will be hard for grandma to start calling them [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. I say the name should stick and at the end of the day the similarity will not be that big of a problem and most people won’t notice even in a small town. Lots of people share the same name.

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Go for [name_u]Remi[/name_u] !!!
[name_u]Rylee[/name_u] is such a common name now. If you loved it enough for your child, the option of changing it would have gone away no matter who else carried the name. As common as [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] is, you might miss it on her when you hear the name, but watching her grow into the name [name_u]Remi[/name_u] could easily rid the feeling of missing [name_u]Rylee[/name_u]. Keeping her name will leave you wondering for the rest of her life if she were [name_u]Remi[/name_u] or not. So go for [name_u]Remi[/name_u], and if you happen to miss it that much, there’s always her second cousin you can visit !

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I think she should keep the name. At that age her baby is probably getting used to it. [name_u]Remy[/name_u] isn’t that big of a change, but [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] is what she chose. I think she should think about why she chose it in the first place and what it meant to her at the time, and maybe she’ll decide that’s the name for her daughter. Also, [name_u]Remi[/name_u] is unisex. I see no problem having a boy called [name_u]Remington[/name_u] nn [name_u]Remi[/name_u], or just [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. It’s ultimately her choice, but I don’t think school would be an issue with the two Reilly/Rylee.

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I don’t think think there’s anything to gain by changing Rylee’s name. I suggest naming the new son [name_u]Remi[/name_u] since it is traditionally a masculine [name_u]French[/name_u] name. That way you get to use both the names you love.

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Great point about resiliency/adoption! How true.

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Way too late, that’s her (name) now, it would be cruel to change it without any significant reason (adoption, teasing, a super negative association that wasn’t present when your first named the child e.g. Isis - I suddenly prefer a different name is not on that list) also Remi is originally a French boys name anyway, so why not just go with that?

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I think it is late to change her name for these reasons. I do think that it would be a really handsome choice for your next baby, a son. Remi/Remy, or perhaps you would like the similar sound of [name_u]Rene[/name_u] for him.

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I say too late lol keep her [name_u]Rylee[/name_u]!

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If her second child is a boy what about using [name_u]Remy[/name_u] in some way for him? It cant be a unisex name- it’s not her last chance to use it if she really likes it.

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This!!! [name_u]Remy[/name_u] is a boys name in [name_u]French[/name_u]. If this family loves this name, why not use it for their son?

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I think she should change it, if it’s really sticking with her, in her heart, the name regret.

[name_u]Rylee[/name_u] and [name_u]Remi[/name_u] sound a bit close for siblings and you want to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your kids names.

She could start calling her daughter [name_u]Remi[/name_u] to make sure it’s the right choice- see how it feels and not do any of the paperwork until later.

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I think most of us have names we regret not getting to use. I always feel a little wistful thinking about my non-existent yet beautifully named children. There are names I love now that I hadn’t even heard of when I was having kids. That’s just how it goes.

Personally, I think a name “belongs” to the parents initially, all the thought that goes into it before and after the decision, then the figuring out of nicknames and pet names, etc. But after a time, perhaps six months, perhaps a year, that name belongs to the gummy, squirmy little birthed person. It’s a bit odd to arbitrarily change it. We don’t subject our kiddos to all of our whims.

As far as solutions go, perhaps calling her Rylee-middle name? Rylee-Kate, Rylee-Marie, that sort of thing…also, a nickname like [name_u]Rye[/name_u] or [name_f]Leah[/name_f] keeps her name in tact but solves the cousin issue.

I’m sorry that you’re caught up on this. It must be upsetting and a bit stressful. It’s going to be great, no matter what you do :heart:

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What’s important here is that [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u] prefers [name_u]Remy[/name_u]. Change it.
I hate the idea of just settling for a name. I need my children to know that I loved whatever name I gave them and thought it was absolutely amazing.

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[name_m]Can[/name_m] I use this as a quote for our Instagram? I love how you put this!

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Sure :blush:

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