Every couple has disagreements – like when your partner insists you don’t actually “need” that Netflix subscription (um, what?).
But what do you do when the disagreement is over something much bigger … like what to name your baby? You’ll both be in the trenches of parenthood, but when it comes to deciding on the perfect baby name, there’s no “both” involved. Whether you have polar opposite tastes or are just feeling meh about the whole process, try these field-tested tips from parents who’ve been there.
1. Be specific.
Flat-out vetoing something without specifying why you don’t like it isn’t helpful. When you nix a name, identify why it makes you say “ugh,” and communicate that to your partner. That way, they won’t keep coming up with ideas that evoke the same feeling. Or, even better …
2. Lay down a list of criteria.
It can help if, right off the bat, you’re clear about things you don’t want in a name. Nothing ending in the “-aden” sound, for example, or nothing above two syllables. Sit down with your partner and make a list of definite don’ts so you can steer clear of anything not matching your criteria to begin with. Sometimes it’s easier to agree on things you don’t like than things you do.
3. Broaden your horizons.
Don’t get stuck on a handful of names; both you and your partner should compile lists of multiple favorites. More names, more choices, more chances you’ll agree on a couple of them. Be willing to branch out and consider something beyond your handful of preferences.
4. Ask yourself why.
Are you being fair when it comes to shooting down your beloved’s name choice? Maybe you’re not keen on the name Mabel for your daughter, but it reminds your partner of the grandmother that showed endless love and sacrifice for her family. Weigh your feelings carefully, especially against names with sentimental value. And remember, you can always …
5. Use it as a middle name.
If something your partner adores is only on your “lukewarm” list, maybe you can agree to use it as a middle name. That way it’ll still have some official importance, but it won’t be the name your kid goes by on a daily basis. OR …
6. Find a variation.
The name Mabel, for example, comes from the Latin name Amabel — which could be a pretty choice instead. OR …
7. Consider something with the same nickname.
Say your partner likes Malachi but you’re thinking, “No way.” How about a similar name – like Malcolm – that could still have the same nickname, like Mal?
(If you’re still struggling, check out these tips for naming your baby after someone whose name you don’t like.)
8. Step away from your preconceived notions.
Some names are definitely off the table because of their associations, like exes and childhood pets. If the name your partner loves reminds you of the high school bully who made your entire adolescence a living hell, then by all means – veto away. But if it reminds you of your childhood neighbor who always had his finger in his nose, this is just a mild negative association, which will melt away the minute it becomes your child’s name. Promise.
9. Try it on for size.
Even if your partner’s name suggestion immediately gets a thumbs-down response from you, do them the favor of giving it a test-drive, so to speak. Take a day or two to say it to yourself, out loud and in your head. Write it down, shout it out, Google it, type it out in different fonts on your computer. The more you say the name, the more familiar it will become, and it may end up growing on you. If not, at least you gave it a fair chance.
10. Enlist a third party.
Got an older kid? Why not enlist their help in naming their new baby brother or sister? Give them a few guidelines (or even a list of approved choices), so they’re clear that, say, “Professor Poopypants” is off the table, then let them have free rein to come up with something. Their suggestions might surprise you … pleasantly!
11. Leave it to chance.
If you’ve got it sufficiently narrowed down to a few choices, but still can’t quite commit, you could always flip a coin, draw it from a hat (Prince William and Kate Middleton are rumored to have done just that, in fact), or let a good old-fashioned round of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” decide.
12. Take a break.
Sometimes you can stress over something so much that it gets overwhelming. But the good thing about babies is that (in most cases, anyway) you have a while to prepare for them. Shift your focus from naming to nursery for a while. When you revisit the topic after stepping away for a bit, you might have some fresh ideas.
The bottom line is this: No matter how long it takes you to come to an agreement on your baby’s name, or what method you use to get to that point, your little one will be just fine. And you’ll be in love – with the kid, and eventually, the name too.