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

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By 19 months, I consider it too late, unless there is a clear benefit to the child in changing the name, which I don’t see as the case here. Since the cousins are in different grades, are different genders, and have different spellings, I don’t think it will be too confusing.

In her place I would focus on all the positive things that initially drew me to [name_u]Rylee[/name_u].

I would also encourage her to add [name_u]Remi[/name_u] to her boys’ names list!

However she proceeds, I hope the letter writer can move past this anxiety and enjoy both her children’s names.


I guess if its a huge regret and she really does not like the name, she could change it. However, think of everyone else in this child’s life who would still call her Rylee. I feel the change would take some time and be disruptive and I think she’s quite too old for this to go smoothly without causing confusion.

I love Remy on a boy, but perhaps the hesitation is that Rylee and Remy sound quite similar. Perhaps use for a middle name? I think sometimes we just don’t get to use a name we love. We compromise with our partners or we never have a certain gender of child. Its hard but it happens. I think its more important to think about is it fair to the child? The only favorable thing i see here is that Rylee and Remi seem similar enough so maybe she could pull it off but I still feel like I personally wouldn’t make the switch in the same situation.

I do have an idea. What if she changed the middle name to something like Mila or Mia and then Remi could be a nickname for Rylee Mia. Its maybe a stretch but best of both worlds that way? That way Rylee is still her name but Remy is a viable nickname?

Reilly and Rylee in the same school isn’t a big deal although if people find out they are cousins it might raise an eyebrow but I dont think its too big of a deal and most people probably won’t make the connection if they have different last names. It could also be a cute connection between them.

I understand loving your child’s name is really important so if she can’t get past it then I say change it already and don’t wait any longer. But I really do personally feel its a bit late and complicated to change it now. I love Remy or Remington on a boy as a first or middle name so its in play as her boy’s name or I like my middle name change idea with the nickname option as a compromise to this even though its a stretch here! It came to me that she could even make the middle name Remington. Rylee Remington kinda sounds cool - and then Remi is a suitable nickname that route as well!


No offense to [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u] but this just feels completely self serving at this point because a) [name_u]Remi[/name_u] is traditionally a boys name, so that point is moot - she can use the name for her current pregnancy b) her daughter is almost two years old, her cousin being three, and she just realized that she doesn’t want them having the same name c) even if they’re cousins, plenty cousins share the same name - besides, they’re spelt differently and she doesn’t mention them sharing the same last name so maybe that is different as well.

I feel like name changes should be for the child’s best interest, if she feels strongly about it, add [name_u]Remi[/name_u] as a middle and when the child is old enough to voice her opinion, let her decide.


To [name_u]Kelsey[/name_u]:

Kids are resilient, and I wouldn’t make a decision like this based on fear of psychological damage because you really don’t have any control over that. Rylee/Remi may end up hating or loving her name for reasons you couldn’t have predicted.

How does your partner feel about it? This should be a discussion between the two of you; friends and extended family will adapt. Ultimately, it is a decision for your family about what feels right for you.

For those arguing to just call your son [name_u]Remi[/name_u], it sounds like in your heart of hearts that you wanted a daughter [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. What you will have to answer is whether your current [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] is that [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. It might help to ask whether you are truly mourning the loss of “Remi’ or whether it is simply mourning the loss of another daughter. You haven’t said that from the beginning that Rylee’s name felt like it wasn’t quite right for your daughter or personality, only that you regretted not being able to use [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. What this may be is the juxtaposition between [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] D. (someone who “already exists”) and [name_u]Remi[/name_u] D., someone who will never exist. It’s okay to mourn the second one and acknowledge it as a true loss. But that may not be the case, and it’s also okay to decide that your daughter is more of [name_u]Remi[/name_u] than a [name_u]Rylee[/name_u].

Best of luck to you in your decision and journey.


I don’t think they should change it, legally at least. Your child is used to their name and to change it now would be confusing for everyone. You could, however, use [name_u]Remi[/name_u] as a nickname for [name_u]Rylee[/name_u]. [name_m]Just[/name_m] remember that once your child is older, they may not want to go by [name_u]Remi[/name_u] anymore, and you can’t force them to.

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[name_u]Love[/name_u] this perspective!

[name_f]Do[/name_f] they share the same last name? That’s the only way I can see it being a potential issue with them going to the same school, being easily mixed up administratively. Other than that I don’t see the issue, chances are there will be ANOTHER Riley/Ryliegh/Rilee in one of their classes as the years go on anyway. [name_f]Live[/name_f] and let live, you picked the name for a reason, it’s hers now.

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They do have the same last name! And a distinctive one, at that.

OK now THAT is the real issue then! I still wouldn’t want to change her name, but I would see if the school would allow her to go by her middle name maybe?

It could be a bit tricky as they grow up but still the only issue I can foresee is confusion at school, I can’t imagine it would matter in any other situation.

Ultimately I think if they choose to change it she would be fine and adjust to her name well though.

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I went to school with two girls named [name_u]Shelby[/name_u] 0ls3n. This was also in a small town, so they had been in the same school all the way K-12 (one grade apart from each other). They weren’t even related, but they had exactly the same name & spelling (almost had the same middle name too, except one Shelby’s parents changed their mind at the last minute).

It really wasn’t a problem, even though they did some of the same sports and had lots of mutual friends. Most of the time, it was pretty easy to know which [name_u]Shelby[/name_u] someone was talking about. And if we needed to clarify, it wasn’t hard to do. The office would use their middle initials to distinguish them. The students would usually distinguish them by their grade in school, hair color, or height (one was 6’ and the other was 5’2").

I really don’t think it’s worth changing Rylee’s name just so she wouldn’t have the same name as her second cousin [name_u]Reilly[/name_u]. It really wasn’t much of an issue for the two Shelby’s at my school, and I would expect it to be even less of an issue for [name_u]Rylee[/name_u] & [name_u]Reilly[/name_u] because they have their own spellings.


I’m all for changing your daughter’s name to [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. I have a first cousin once removed who is 4 years older, and we share the same first and last name. Now, as adults, it’s fine, but as kids… it. was. frustrating.
We lived in the same small town and went to the same small schools. Because of the 4 year age gap, middle and high school weren’t so bad. We did overlap quite a bit before that. At least once a year that school would inadvertently mix us up and that was with her mom working there.
[name_f]Every[/name_f] year when I got new teachers at least one would always say, “What a small world! I just had a (insert name)!” I would respond with “Yeah, I know her. We’re cousins.” The first few wtf looks from the teachers are funny, but it gets old fast.
Being the younger cousin with the same name kinda sucks. Growing up, my name never felt like it was mine; it felt like the name was hers. It wasn’t until I went away to college that my name finally felt like it was mine.
Again, please go with [name_u]Remi[/name_u]. Your daughter is young enough that she won’t remember ever having another name and everyone else will adapt to the change.


This! I’m [name_u]French[/name_u] and I met a lot of boys named [name_u]Remi[/name_u] or [name_u]Remy[/name_u] (never met a girl named [name_u]Remi[/name_u] because it’s not unisex in France). I would use it for the little boy she is expecting.

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If it is bothering you to the point you would regret NOT using the other name, I would switch it.

I changed my son’s name a few months in and I really feel like memories don’t begin for them until later years so they will not carry a negative memory of it.

You want to feel confident with the name you picked and that it feels like it IS your child’s name! Go with you mama gut and heart!!

Also, everyone else will move along with it too. Most people don’t even remember I changed my son’s name.

Follow your heart on it and move confidently in the direction you choose! Much love to you – i’ve been there!


Children LOVE it when they meet others with their same name. They will not have any issue with it. It’ll be a point of bonding for them. And I would never change my child’s name for managing other people’s feelings, especially years after the fact when it’s a much more difficult process.

Also, just as a note, if it were me, I’d start calling my child the new name for a while before I’d consider changing it. For me, I’d do it for a full year before going through the name change process. But that’s just me.

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If you want to change her name because you want to then I say go for it! I changed my daughter’s name when she was a few months shy of turning 2. It was a different situation - we were adopting her from foster care and knew a new identity was best for he her in our situation (plus her name was chosen at random by a foster parent so it had no meaningful connection). She wasn’t saying her name yet, but of course, she answered to it. However, she started answering to her new name in a week and stopped answering to the old name in just a month! We did get push back from our community that was unpleasant to wade through, but now it seems like ancient history.

If you really want to, it’s possible.


Change the name! If I were Reilly’s mom, I’d be furious. You can say you didn’t copy, but many people will think you did. HE had the name first, therefore it’s his and you should change Rylee’s.
It’s fortunate that you have another name that’s so similar. I agree with the suggestions above that you begin calling her [name_u]Remi[/name_u] immediately because the legal change will take time. I wish I’d changed my own name back when it cost $50. The last time I asked, the charge had gone up to $250!
I know of a 3 year old who “changed” her own name. She told her parents her given name, [name_f]Olga[/name_f], was stupid and they must call her [name_f]Elsa[/name_f]. If they got it wrong, she either corrected them or ignored them. Eventually everyone went along with the switch.
If a 3yo can manage to do this then you can too!


i think it’s too late to make the switch. rylee probably already knows and understands her name, it would be so confusing for her. i don’t really see the issue with having a cousin with a similar name, either. yes, they go to the same school, but they aren’t even in the same year and plus, they are spelt differently. if i was her, i would ask rylee if she would want to be called remi. if she does, maybe start using it as a nickname for her and see if she really fits the name and then change it legally if she’s 100% sure she wants to.

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