My husband and I are due to have a boy in February, and we have fully settled on what his name will be, but the problem for us comes from the nickname. The baby's name will be Charles Marshall, our last name is very Irish and can also be a girl's first name, but isn't really important to the nickname issue.
The problem is, that we both LOVE the name Chuck and would like to call him that. However, when I think of a brand new wrinkly cute little baby, the name Chuck just seems so wrong, and I think a lot of our family and friends will have a hard time using Chuck as his name. I am pretty certain that most of them will lean towards calling him Charlie. Which we are not necessarily opposed to, but I don't want that to be his name for all of his life.
So, my question is, can you switch nicknames, ie. call him Charlie when he's small and cute and then switch to Chuck when he grows into it? If so, when would we do that, is there a certain age where that would be appropriate?? I would really like for him to be Chuck by the time he goes to school as that seems to be where you really grow into your identity. Should we just stick with Chuck and force people to like it, I think that eventually he will grow into the name and people will see, as we do, how cute it really is. Or do we tell people his name is Charles, and allow everyone to come up with their own versions of a nickname for him?
Also, do you think that we should tell his name to everyone before he's born to give them time to adjust to it, or wait till they meet him when there will likely be less controversy over the nickname since everyone will be overwhelmed by his cuteness??
The maxim "Start as you mean to go on" comes to mind. If you think you might encounter resistance to the nickname Chuck, and if you think the path of least resistance for your friends and relatives is the nickname Charlie, you might lose control of the nickname if you don't seize control of it right from the start. "Charlie" and "Chuck" are so different, I think if you start off with Charlie you may find yourself ending up with Charlie, too.
I think if I were having baby and calling him Chuck, I would on the very first day announce him as "Charles---we're calling him Chuck," and then I would immediately give him a set of Funny Baby Nicknames. "Chicken" comes to mind, because it's cute and fun to say to/about a baby, but it's so similar to the name Chuck, it lets people sort of EASE into it. But it can be anything that comes to mind when you meet him. "Little Guy." "Mr. Cheeks." "Hedgehog." "Tumsy." "Frog-Feet." All of those and more.
It's really too bad all those scary movies ruined the nickname Chuckie, or I'd recommend starting with that and moving to Chuck later on. Another way to soften a one-syllable or not-very-babyish baby name is to add the word "Baby": "Baby Chuck" is easier to coo lovingly than flat-out "Chuck."
As to whether to tell everyone the chosen nickname before or after the birth---well, families are different. Some families find it easier to hold back the mouthy feedback if they don't hear the name until it's a done deal. Others find it easier if they have some time to get used to the name in private before having to go public with their reactions.
Good luck, Chuck!