Naming Baby

The lovely Gina recently posted about baby naming in Sweden. We exchanged a couple of emails about the traditions there and she explained that Swedes will sometimes take many months — even a year! — before they name their babies.

It got me thinking about my own baby naming stories. As soon as we knew he was a boy, we picked Ralph’s name. But Maude’s first birth certificate said Miriam (seems so strange now, it wouldn’t fit her at all!). We ended up changing her name to Maude the day after we filed the Miriam paperwork, but we didn’t get around to getting a new birth certificate for a few months.

I remember standing in line at a bland government office, arms full of little toddler Ralph and tiny baby Maude, going through the red tape to get the new certificate, feeling completely overwhelmed, and promising myself that if we had any more babies, we’d have the name figured out before we left the hospital — so that I’d never have to refile that paperwork again. Hah!

What about you? Did your baby’s name come to you right away? Or did you have to search for it? Are any of you like the Swedish? Did you spend a few months after the baby was born trying on names until you decided?

P.S. — I find Swedish child-rearing endlessly interesting. Remember the preschools that are entirely outdoor? Also, remember tiny Baby June?

75 thoughts on “Naming Baby”

  1. we knew the names ahead of time.
    my husband and i would decide on 2 names and actually had my father deciding on one {following a tradition that he would name all the children coming into the family, his own and his grandchildren}. so before we got to the hospital we knew their names.
    and i must say that i love them to date! i’ve never regret them and i think they fit them so very well!
    we have to children whom we lost before being birthed and we have named them as well. both have more of “symbolic” names {what their short lives and their passing meant for us}.

    here in germany you have to name your child in a certain time period, so you’re kind of “under pressure”. and the registry office is actually allowed to decline the name you’ve chosen {for being too “weird”, if they are gender-specific, …} i guess that’s why we are famous for our officialism ;)

  2. didn’t name our first till she was 11 days old…named her Senai, the hebrew word for sinai since she was born on the holiday of shavuot when we celebrate receiving the torah at mount sinai. second (a boy) was so easy…we just loved the name Nadav, means generous, openhanded. third, the name came to my husband in a dream, so we had to go with that (a boy, named Roee, means “my shepherd” as in “God is my shepherd…” #4 was tough…we had all these left over names that we loved…but my favorite won: we named our boy Lev, which means heart in hebrew (and lion in russian!)

  3. In Russia we have at least one month to name a baby before receiving Birth Certificate, so we can look at the baby and decide what name fits best of all.

    And that is why my son hadn’t any name except for a “baby” for about 2 weeks :)

    My junior daughter was born in Thailand on Koh Samui and the first words I heard after giving birth were: “What’s your baby’s name?” So we were glad the name had been decided long before – Nina :)

  4. In Italy you are expected to have a name even before the baby is born! My hospital were very insistent that I gave them a name (even though it isn’t legally binding) while I was in labour and the midwife even scolded me that “I had had 9 months to think about it so why was I hesitating?”. Two years ago I had twins and I named my son and my husband named our daughter. I would have liked to have changed her name but, again, that is illegal here – plus my husband wouldn’t have agreed. Luckily, two years on it has grown on me!

  5. My husband and I went through all of our family names and all of the baby name books and really couldn’t agree on anything that we liked for a boy.

    Then, as he was packing up to be away for the last 5 months of the pregnancy, we both looked at the copy of the book he planned to record himself reading (you know, so the baby could hear is voice before he arrived) and realized that the title would be it.

  6. Wow, great topic. My husband is a software developer and I’m doing my PhD on Romantic literature: these fields do not have a lot in common, except Ada Lovelace, who is considered to be the first computer programmer AND she is the daughter of Lord Byron. So, our first daughter is Ada, as her father saw it in his dreams. :) Then, there is a sweet Hungarian song about a “lencsi doll” (a doll with big, round eyes, a favourite old toy), so I wanted to find a name for our second daughter that can be shortened to Lencsi, and we ended up with Léna (which I love). And she has amazing eyes of course!

    Btw in Hungary, hospital staff really do insist on having the name before the birth (if you have time, that is), I can’t really see why…

  7. This is an interesting topic. I am pregnant right now. If it is a girl we have a family name (my great-great grandmother) picked out that we both really like. If it is a boy we are going to have a really hard time choosing a name. We went through a bunch the other night and couldn’t agree on any :S My family all have names connected to the family, my husband’s family all have Bible names.

  8. Following our Jewish tradition made it fairly easy for my husband and I. Before we had children we decided that if we had a boy it would be named after my husband’s father. Our first was a boy and so, he was named. And our daughter was named after my beloved grandmother. Our tradition is to use the actual names of the deceased who we are naming the child after. There are some Jewish parents who choose to just use the first initial of the name of the person they are naming their child after. We happen to like the real first names so used them.

  9. In Indonesia, some people also take several months to think about their baby names…so we usually got the names before we’re going to the labour room. I have 3 boys & they are all started with “G”… the first one initial is G.A, so when it came to the 2nd one…either it has to be the same “G” or else…then it became G.C When I got the third boy, then it became a concept that first name has to be “G” & the middle name skipping 2 letters of the alphabeth, G.E :)

  10. With both of our children, we agonized, debated, and laughed over names until we were going crazy! Our son ended up Caspian (after the sea, for me and the C.S. Lewis book for my husband) and our daughter ended up Lucinda. We wanted names that were unique, could be shortened or nicknamed, and that would stand the test of time. I believe that the trendier the name, the more dated it is going to seem in a few years. There’s a great site for baby names: I spent many a pregnant, sleepless night on there searching for the perfect moniker.

  11. I am German/Finnish but live in Sweden with my Swedish husband. I agree that it is very common here to wait with the name giving to get a feel for the babys personality. My cousin who is also married to a Swede took about 5 months to name her boy. That would be a bit too long for my taste though.

    We are expecting our first baby in the beginning of July and have discussed a few names already but will wait until we see her. Right now my favorite is Greta which works in each language.

  12. I absolutely love that baby photo. And my husband is half Swedish.
    Our baby’s name was tough. We had a name picked out but when we shared it folks had a lot of opinions. And they felt that they can share both the good and the bad. So changed our mind about the initial name. We finally settled on a very pretty family name and figured it out a couple of months before her birth.

  13. Gabby, will you tell us why Flora June is “June” and not “Flora”? And are you really going to tease us by only giving us Ralph’s and Maude’s stories? More, more, please!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top