What if everything changes when you see your baby?

I’d love to hear thoughts, whether from experience or expectations, on naming pre- vs. post-baby.

I’ve been thinking more and more that instead of choosing a name during pregnancy, I’d rather go in with a (very) short list and choose from them after the birth. Of course, knowing me, I’ll probably be leaning one direction or the other… but a big part of me would like it to feel organic; I saw my baby and knew its name was __________.

This all came up because I’d always assumed my baby would be brunette, as my husband has black hair and mine is auburn… and my favorite girl name I can only see on a brunette. There is a good enough chance, though, that she could be blonde or even a redhead… and I just can’t see that name with those hair colors! So I got to thinking, how could I choose a name that so solidly brings to mind a specific trait, then still use it if she’s born without that? (For argument’s sake, let’s leave out the fact that many brunettes are born blonde :wink: )

Of course the downside is that you risk being thrown back to square one, or being caught in seemingly infinite limbo even with a very short list.

ANYWAY, discuss!

Well, to be honest, babies aren’t that distinctive. I really can’t imagine thinking that my 2 day old didn’t seem like a this or that. But I am more pragmatic and less given to fancy. [name]Phoebe[/name] was [name]Phoebe[/name] and that was that. :slight_smile:

It has gone both ways for me. With both of my daughters, we decided to bring a “short list” to the hospital and wait until we saw them before choosing the name. This was only because we couldn’t find “THE” name that we both fell in love with during the pregnancy. DD#1 was born and we both knew the moment we saw her what her name should be. When my husband looked at her and told me what his vote was, I was thrilled that I was thinking the same name. We named her and never looked back. I [name]LOVE[/name] her name, first and middle, and am so happy we chose it – the name is perfect for her! We did the same approach with DD#2, but it didn’t work out quite as well. She was born and I thought we should name her [name]Elsa[/name], but DH thought we should name her [name]Ingrid[/name]. We really struggled trying to figure it out, neither name really “fit” her, she honestly looked like “baby” to me (I actually called her baby for a while rather than her name :roll: ). We felt pressured to decide and file the birth certificate before we left the hospital. I wasn’t feeling strongly about either name, so we decided to name her [name]Ingrid[/name] [name]Lynn[/name]. The middle name was never discussed in depth during the pregnancy, it was just a family name that we decided to use. We went home and it just wasn’t sitting well with me at ALL – I was having major name remorse. I wasn’t sure if I was regretting the first name or the middle name. Ultimately I changed her middle name to [name]Julia[/name] (thank you for your help, nameberries!) But I still question if we picked the “right” name for her, and she is 8 weeks old now. I really regret not spending more time thinking about her name during the pregnancy. We had such a relatively easy time naming DD#1, that I simply expected it to be just as clear what the name should be when DD#2 was born. Well, I was wrong, because it wasn’t clear at all (like it was with DD#1). We aren’t sure if we will have another child, but I am already thinking about names now just in case we do! I want to be better prepared next time, just in case the baby doesn’t “tell us” what his/her name should be :wink: Next time around (if we are blessed enough to have another), I think we will pick a name during the pregnancy and just go with it. (But still have a back-up name if the chosen name doesn’t seem to fit!)

Sorry for the long post! :smiley:

I think taking cues once you see the baby can be a very smart thing to do, and I absolutely think that babies can be very distinctive and “seem” like they fit one name or another!

My first child, who I was sure would be a boy, turned out to be a big bouncing girl with lots of long dark hair.

My second I knew was a boy, but surprised us by weighing ten pounds and having bright red hair!

The next was another boy, though less distinctive looking and blond – very different!

Hmm – I’m not sure it is all that fanciful. As the posters here have recounted, it is a surprising process to choose a name, full of twists and turns, the first adventure not being at all like the next! I believe all of it:

Sometimes parents just know their new baby’s name.
Sometimes parents are surprised at how uncertain and changable they feel about their baby’s name.
Sometimes (one hopes often), parents pick a name, like [name]Phoebe[/name] (a great name!), and it just sticks with no second thoughts or reservations.
Sometimes parents deeply want to change their baby’s name – even months after birth.

I have a hunch that just as every baby is a different experience from the one before, every name is different experience from the one before. I can see why one would want to prepare, and also why one might not be able to completely prepare!

I agree babies aren’t distinctive enough for me to do that. Also, I can’t imagine naming my child just based off of hair color, mainly because it’s so unreliable. The color someone has as a baby and even as a child doesn’t have anything to do with what they’ll have as an adult. For example, I had white-blonde hair as a child all the way up until I was about ten and then it started getting dark. My hair is so dark brown now it’s almost black.

I can’t imagine choosing a name based on what the baby looks like, it changes too much. Based on the cornucopia of genetics available to my husband and I, and the fact that I’m a musician and use my ears more than my eyes, I think we’ll be going with names that sound great and that we’re happy to say (over and over and over).

Perhaps you did not read my entire post. I pointed out myself that many brunettes are born blonde (my brother is among them), but it was just an example I was using as there are a plethora of reasons that cause MANY parents to feel that their pre-birth choice doesn’t fit the child they find in their arms. Usually they are much less tangible than hair color, but as I said, it was just an example - my own tiny “ah-ha” moment that led to not wanting to set a name in proverbial stone before meeting my child.

And I disagree that babies are not distinctive enough to “feel” like one name and not another. They certainly change a lot, and quickly, but they do not all look identical at birth. Besides, I think those second thoughts come a lot more from the parents’ general feeling about their child and a lot less from their physical appearance… Plus once it’s there right in front of you, that name that you loved for nine months feels all the more real - which ups the pressure, and can change how you feel about the name.

We picked out names several months in advance with both of my sons and we never had a second thought or regretted it. My older son took a few months to really grow into his name, but there was never a different name that I’d wished I’d used.
With my daughter we couldn’t decide on a name so we brought a list of 3 names to the hospital with us. After she was born she really didn’t look like any of the names so I just picked the one that I like the best at the time. She’s about 5 months now and starting to grow into her name.
Everyone is different but like a previous poster said, if I’d named my kids based on what name I thought suited them then they would have all been named [name]Baby[/name].


It’s so funny you mention hair color because that was also a deciding factor in naming our daughter [name]Chloe[/name]. We had two other names picked out and [name]Chloe[/name] was at the bottom of the list partly because I saw it as a “blonde” name. Sure enough, when she was born she had blonde hair like her Daddy. I took that as a sign. Now her hair is light brown but I still think she’s a [name]Chloe[/name].

I “knew” the right name for all 3 of my kids while I was pregnant (I did know the gender each time). By about the 8th month, a name would just feel like my baby’s name. All 3 of their names were not names I had considered before getting pregnant. All 3 names suit them perfectly and I can’t imagine them with any other name. I know hair color was just an example, but as a side note, one of my sons was born with lots of dark hair. Now he is a blond 2 year old. You just never know what they are going to end up looking like.

Here is my story:

[name]Long[/name] before we conceived, I had about 6 names that I liked: [name]Hannah[/name] [name]Jane[/name], [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Ruth[/name], [name]Mara[/name] [name]Eve[/name], [name]Josiah[/name] [name]Daniel[/name], [name]Benjamin[/name] [name]Sidney[/name], and [name]Peter[/name] [name]Immanuel[/name]. Most of these are Biblical names DH & I like. [name]Jane[/name] is my middle name, and I am the 4th generation to have it as a first or middle name. [name]Rebecca[/name] is my sister’s name. DH is [name]Peter[/name] [name]Sidney[/name] [name]Jr[/name]. and his brother is [name]Benjamin[/name].

Over 4 years passed between deciding I loved these names (there were others I liked, but these were the top 6) and actually having children. Finally we conceived little [name]Hannah[/name] or [name]Josiah[/name]. During the pregnancy I got another name stuck in my head ([name]Judah[/name]). Also, DH decided that he would like a little [name]Peter[/name] after all (he had been unsure). But it turned out we were probably having a girl. We went to the hospital thinking that we were having a girl and would name her [name]Hannah[/name] [name]Jane[/name], and that on the off chance the ultrasounds were wrong, we would name our son [name]Peter[/name] [name]Immanuel[/name] “Pi” (I had chosen [name]Immanuel[/name] specifically to use this nickname).

I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. But somehow I didn’t recognize her like I expected I would. She didn’t really seem like a [name]Hannah[/name]. The name that stood out to me was [name]Mara[/name]. (I would still have used [name]Jane[/name] as a middle name). [name]Mara[/name] [name]Jane[/name] had the advantage of being very similar to an obscure [name]Star[/name] Wars character, [name]Mara[/name] [name]Jade[/name]. I don’t know if DH would have appreciated that had he known. Anyway, I was torn between the name I had loved so long and the fact that it didn’t seem to suit my little girl. But I knew that pregnant and recently pregnant people’s hormones made them do strange things, and I didn’t want to regret not using the name I love. I figured that if we named her [name]Hannah[/name], she’d be our [name]Hannah[/name], and that she would be what a [name]Hannah[/name] was–the name would suit her because it was hers. And in the end we took home [name]Hannah[/name] [name]Jane[/name].

I’ve never gotten a negative comment on her name (unless you count “After [name]Hannah[/name] [name]Montana[/name]?”; it wasn’t meant negatively and I said, “No, in spite of [name]Hannah[/name] [name]Montana[/name]”). It does seem that every woman who qualifies for a senior discount has a granddaughter named [name]Hannah[/name], and the popularity of it gave me more namer’s remorse than anything else. I remember thinking, did I give her the [name]Jessica[/name] name of her generation (I am a [name]Jessica[/name], because it sounded good, and I do not like my name much). If I were giving birth to my firstborn today, she’d be [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Jane[/name], because using a family name has become more important to me. But I do like the meaning and the story and the sound, and it’s neat that it’s a palindrome. I can’t picture my daughter (2 1/2) as a [name]Mara[/name] or [name]Rebecca[/name] or [name]Jane[/name].

When we were pregnant with my second, we were never sure about a girls’ name. We definitely wanted [name]Rebecca[/name]. It started out with [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Ruth[/name], but then I decided against it–maybe in part because [name]Pete[/name]'s aunt said it was her middle name and she hated it. I considered [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Rose[/name] (my sister’s mn is [name]Rose[/name]) as well as combining [name]Rebecca[/name] or [name]Rose[/name] with [name]Charity[/name] or [name]Leah[/name] (my [name]SIL[/name] is [name]Cheri[/name] [name]Lee[/name]). I considered [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Virginia[/name] (after DH’s deceased sister) and when I learned that DH’s mom and paternal grandma both had the middle name [name]May[/name], we settled on [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]May[/name]. But then I was worried about the meaning… I considered [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Faith[/name], [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Joy[/name], or [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Grace[/name] but really wanted two family names.

Our boys’ name throughout the pregnancy was [name]Peter[/name] [name]Sidney[/name] III. We never wavered on that. We found out he would be a boy, but I still wanted a just-in-case girls’ name. I proposed [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]Lucy[/name]. This ruined my long plan of having a [name]Rhoda[/name] [name]Lucy[/name] for DH’s grandmas and an [name]Elizabeth[/name] [name]Susan[/name] for mine, but I loved the meaning. DH was unsure, as he’d thought we were settled on [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]May[/name]. I was still not completely sure on a girls’ name when I went into labor–but luckily, [name]Peter[/name] III did not surprise us. He was also born on his Daddy’s birthday, so he is exactly 27 years younger :). We still don’t have a nickname for him–I liked Pi even without the initials but it didn’t stick–but I have 0 naming regret with my son. I did not have the same lack of “recognition” with him because at birth he looked very like his sister. [name]Both[/name] of my kids were born with brown hair; now [name]Hannah[/name]'s is light brown and [name]Peter[/name]'s is very blond (DH has tannish hair now, you might say brown, but was blond as a child; I have had brown hair all my life). [name]Hannah[/name] also has curly hair, which is a surprise to us and we didn’t know until she was several months old. All four of our grandmas have curly hair, but no one closer than that. Eye color is another thing many people can’t know at birth–though DH and I have blue eyes so we rather expected our children to be born with blue eyes that stayed blue.

If I had another healthy baby tomorrow–once I got over the shock–he or she would probably be [name]Benjamin[/name] [name]Mark[/name] “[name]Jamin[/name]” ([name]Mark[/name] is my dad’s middle name) or [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]May[/name] (I’m okay with [name]Rebecca[/name] [name]May[/name] now. I think).

I do have one name–[name]Alfred[/name]–I would only use (as a first name) for a son born with red hair, as then I could call him [name]Red[/name], the only nickname for [name]Alfred[/name] I like. DH’s grandfather was [name]Alfred[/name] [name]Jr[/name]., and there’s currently an [name]Alfred[/name] V, so we probably wouldn’t use that as a first name anyway. Based on what I’ve seen of people’s hormones doing strange things, though, I would want to use a name I liked before I was pregnant. I would be very suspicious of a name I fell in love with during pregnancy, especially if it weren’t my normal style.

Here are my thoughts:
Children grow into their names, in general. But you are far more likely to experience namer’s regret when you are unsure, regardless of whether you change it or not.
Names that have a specific vision attached to them may disappoint you regardless of whether they fit at birth. [name]Imagine[/name] naming your daughter [name]Serena[/name] and having her turn out hyperactive, or if Blondelle’s hair darkens as an adult–would you find the name silly? Would it bother you? If so, I wouldn’t use it. But if you’d have no problem with your fiery-haired baby [name]Scarlett[/name] being a blond teenaged [name]Scarlett[/name], or [name]Joy[/name] being a brooding melancholy type, or [name]Grace[/name] having two left feet (if that would be the definition you’d even think of–my mom always said she was glad she hadn’t named me [name]Grace[/name]) then go for it.
Your tastes may change. What’s popular may change. Your child’s name probably won’t. (Neither will the names of other family members, if you enjoy family names).
If you’re worried that the name you pick won’t be “right,” but also that you might not be sure on the right one out of even a small list, just get it narrowed down to one but keep some backups anyway. If you can narrow it down to (say) [name]Judah[/name], [name]Silas[/name], or [name]Malachi[/name], but are fairly sure [name]Judah[/name] is your favorite, you’ve got the best of both worlds–you can plan on naming him [name]Judah[/name] but if he really looks like [name]Silas[/name] you can use that instead.
I don’t like my name. I am not scarred for life. I have turned out to be a productive human being. The vast majority of people who have common names, uncommon names, names their parents weren’t sure of, or even downright weird names are probably also productive members of society.
If once your child is five, a presidential candidate or serial killer or pop star or third-world dictator with the same name suddenly comes to prominence, you’ll probably think (even if only briefly) “Why did I choose that name?” You can think everything out perfectly and things can happen to make you regret your decision. [name]Deirdre[/name] [name]Imogen[/name] might marry a [name]Cooper[/name] and make her initials [name]DIC[/name].

It’s great if you love your child’s name. It’s great if it fits her the moment she’s born. But you’re both going to live with the choice the rest of your lives, and chances are at some point you may regret your choice a little. That’s okay.

I went into the birth with a very short list of girl names for my second child (first was a boy and named after paternal grandfather and great-grandfather with a distinct nickname).
When she was born (only 16 months after my first!) I had very different names from my girl choices the first time around.
Also, being superstitious since my sister-in-law lost a baby girl at birth - I did not have a “name”.
My daughter was born and was not named for 24 hours. And me being a name nerd! But when you are faced with the daunting task of giving someone a name for life I freaked!
Anyways, when I looked at her that whole day she did not look like the combo of my first and my DH’s first choices. So I ended up with both of our second choices.