Baby Name Regret Is More Common Than You Think

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
Mladen Zivkovic/Getty

A recent study conducted by the British parenting site ChannelMum found that nearly 30% of respondents feel like they chose the wrong name for their child.

That’s a lot, considering the amount of time and effort we put into naming our babies. But sometimes, there are just factors we can’t control, or things we didn’t think about.

According to the ChannelMum survey, these are some of the reasons cited most often for baby name remorse:

1. It got too popular.

This one hits close to home for me personally, because I’ve heard my own mother gripe about this exact thing for decades regarding my older sister’s name. “I never knew another Amy,” she has groused over and over. “But then when I named your sister, suddenly there were Amys all over the place.”

It’s kind of like when you or someone you know gets a new car — you’ve rarely noticed that kind before, but once you get one yourself, it seems like the same model is jumping out of the woodwork.

But there are some very good reasons to choose a popular name, so don’t be discouraged if your kid’s name is everywhere. Focus on the positives!

2. They felt pressured.

You announce you’re expecting a baby, and everybody has an opinion on everything … from your birth plan to your baby name. And sometimes, when you succumb to pressure from family and friends whose opinions are especially strong (read: pushy AF), it leads to a baby name you regret.

3. It doesn’t really “fit” the child.

Other times, when you get to know someone’s personality, you find that their name doesn’t exactly match up.

You can think about it for months, maybe years, and still not be able to pick the perfect name for somebody you’ve never even met.

Say you name your son Riot, in anticipation of a rowdy, spirited fireball — and instead, little Riot is shy and heart-meltingly sweet, like some sort of baby deer, the polar opposite of a feisty troublemaker.

If you’re worried about making a mistake, you can relax: You’re not legally required to have a name for your baby by the time you leave the hospital. If you need to take a few days to get to know your baby, and decide which name choice really fits, that’s totally fine.

And, if you think you made your decision too hastily, most states allow six months to a year to change your child’s name on the birth certificate without requiring a court order.

(Just make sure you notify the Social Security Administration; you can find all the required info on that here).

4. Someone close chose the same name for their baby.

Whether or not you can actually “steal” a baby name remains a topic of heated debate, but if you’re in the “hell yes you can” camp, it would likely be an issue if your sister or cousin or bestie uses the same name as your baby … especially if it’s a kid you’re going to see on a regular basis.

But think of it this way: If someone chooses a name, it means they really like it, and it has no negative connotations in their mind. So hey, it just means your kid is so perfect and adorable that someone is hoping their baby will turn out similarly.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

5. It’s too unusual or too difficult to spell/pronounce.

You may decide you don’t give a crap if anyone can pronounce baby Anais‘s name properly (ahem, it’s ah-na-EES) … until you actually start introducing Anais to the world, who calls her “Ah-ny-uss” and “Uh-naze” and “Anus” and whatever else they think her name is.

Granted, people can — and damn well shouldlearn to pronounce even the most unusual names. But if your baby is two months old and you’re already sick to death of correcting everybody (or of trying to ignore the raised eyebrows at your kid’s “weird” name), it’s your prerogative to change it, or at least go by an easier nickname, like Ana.

6. Someone with the same name became famous (or infamous!).

It’s a matter of timing. You give your baby what you think is the perfect, most unique name, and then wham! You read the news and there it is: your baby’s name, now attached to a celebrity or a tragedy or a devastating hurricane.

You may be afraid that your child will never live down the association — or worse, that people will think your child is named after said association — but if it bothers you, this is where nicknames and middle names come in handy.

7. A celebrity used it for their kid.

Somebody famous uses “your” baby name, and suddenly it’s everywhere, and you’re over it.

Can you imagine the collective anguish of the parents of baby Charlottes when Prince William and Duchess Kate announced the name of their newest daughter in 2015? And the parents-to-be whose “obscure” choice, Archie, was chosen as the name of the newest royal?

When any celeb chooses a moniker for their baby, it’s automatically thrust into the spotlight and typically experiences quite the boost in popularity.

Shiloh, for example, wasn’t even on the popularity charts when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt chose it for their child in 2006; afterward, it made its chart debut at #786 and has continued to climb, now standing at #582.

But, there could be worse associations than the child of celebrity parents (again, natural disasters come to mind — sorry, Katrinas).

At least the general public will be familiar with your child’s name, minimizing the chances of misspellings and mispronunciations.

Of course, these aren’t the only reasons people second-guess what they’ve named their children.

Maybe their kid is named after someone who went on to betray them in a very painful way. Maybe they realized too late that it has some very awkward initials or sounds (Taryn Watts is a cute name, until it’s written as “T.Watts” on a document). Maybe the name they thought would be cool and unique ends up to be embarrassing for the child.

But whatever the reason you may feel doubtful about your baby’s name, you’re certainly not alone — and you’ve got options.

You can give it time, to see if it grows on you, or starts to fit your child’s personality better.

You can shorten it, or use a middle name, or come up with an entirely unrelated nickname altogether if it seems more right.

You can change it legally on the birth certificate.

You’ve got time. Babies don’t start to identify themselves using their name for a good six months, and even then, it isn’t so ingrained in their identities that it would be difficult or traumatizing to start calling them something different. And if they’re older and want to change the name because they hate it, they’ll be on board.

At the end of the day, every name has its perks and pitfalls — and your child may feel differently about it than you do. The name you feel lukewarm about may turn out to be a big part of what makes your kid shine.

Find a baby name you’ll love with the thousands of choices in Scary Mommy’s baby name database!

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