This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Baby Girl James, Sister to Max Oliver

Elena writes:
My name is Elena and my husband Oliver and I are expecting our second baby - a girl - who is due on the 5th of January. We have a son named Max Oliver, and we absolutely adore his name. Fortunately we do not have the problem of being unable to agree on any names. We have three girls names that we would be happy to use in a heartbeat, but they have some issues that may make them unsuable. Middle name will be either Elena or May after me (family tradition).

Our top name is Alaia, uh-LIE-uh. There is the obvious problem of "a liar". Infact when I told my mum that we loved Alaia her response was "Alaia? Like a liar? That could cause some problems." Although the next day she told me that she actually really liked it, after she thought more about it. It sounds sooooo pretty when you don't think of "a liar". But I would hate to give my daughter a name that gives her grief. Another problem is that Elena and Alaia are kinda similar sounding, though I do go by Elle 80% of the time. So what do you think? Is Alaia usable? If we used Alaia she would be Alaia May.

Our second name is Ruby. Max and Ruby. Like the childrens TV show. Does that make Ruby unusable for us? We LOVE it, and we love how Max and Ruby sound together, but does it seem tacky? Like we were trying to copy the TV show? She would be Ruby Elena. Max Oliver and Ruby Elena. Oh it's so cute! We are hoping to have one more baby, so if we had Max, Ruby and Theo (our favourite boy name) does that make it better?

Our third name is Mia. It comes with little problems, such as the repeating 'M' initial. Max and Mia. I think it sounds cute, but I don't know if it's too cutesy and tacky. We also know a few little girls named Mia, so I don't know if it's a bit popular (I know Ruby is popular too (at least in Aus), but we don't know any). Also the middle name is an issue, Mia May sounds way too cutesy, but Mia Elena doesn't sound right either because of them both ending in 'a'. So yeah, I'm just not sure.

Our last name is James, so we really want a girls name that is clearly feminine. Some other names we have considered, but aren't using are:

And like I said before, our favourite boy name is Theo, so if we have another boy this will most likely be his name!

So what do you think Swistle and readers? Are these names usable or unusable? Maybe a poll could be helpful. Suggestions for other names would be great too!

Another issue with Alaia is pronunciation: I wouldn't have known how it was pronounced, and probably would have tried "ah-LAY-yah" first (I'd be thinking, "Maybe it's like Alaina, but without the N"). After finding out the actual pronunciation, I noticed I immediately started using "a liar" as a mnemonic to help me remember how to pronounce it---unfortunately reinforcing that connection.

Names similar to Alaia that might avoid the issues:

Maya/Mya (same middle name problems as Mia)

My favorite is Eliza: to me it sounds almost exactly like Alaia, but without the liar-sound and spelling/pronunciation issues. Eliza May James; Max and Eliza.

My kids watched Max and Ruby, so for me it's an instant and deal-breaking connection. I think if you had another child in between a Max and a Ruby it would improve things somewhat---but still not enough for me to take it out of the category of "Names that were unfortunately eliminated by other names used."

Names similar to Ruby that might avoid the issues:


My favorite is Ivy: the sassiness of Ruby without a children's television theme song springing to mind. Ivy Elena James; Max and Ivy.

I also like Phoebe. It has the sassiness and also the -bee ending of Ruby. Phoebe Elena James; Max and Phoebe.

Max and Mia are definitely very, very cute, but not in a way that makes me think Mia should be ruled out (i.e., just cute, not tacky). One concern is whether having two 3-letter, M-initial names will make you feel backed into a corner when choosing a name for a possible third child.

Names similar to Mia that might avoid the issues:

Cleo (but would rule out Theo for a future child)
Gia (maybe not with James)

My favorite is Willa. It's sweet like Mia, without crossing the possible Too Cute line, or backing you into a corner later. Willa May James; Max and Willa.

I also like Isla, especially since it appears on two of the lists: it's like a cross between Alaia and Mia. Isla May James; Max and Isla.

Name update! Elena writes:
Our little girl arrived a whole week early on the 29th of December. Oliver and I could not decide which name was our favourite, but we managed to narrow it down to Isla May and Lucy Elena. We had decided to wait until she was born to decide. When we met her, neither of us knew what name she 'felt' like. When Max came to meet her we asked him if we should name her Isla or Lucy, and he said Isla. So she became Isla May. We are all in LOVE with our Isla, and couldn't be happier with her name. I also love that Max got to choose her name...he tells everyone that he "choosed Isla"!

Thank you Swistle and to all who commented!


Mary said...

I immediately thought of Ayla- Max, Ayla, and Theo sound wonderful together.

Marjorie said...

Never heard of "Ruby and Max" and if you're planning on another child later I'd say go for it. Plus, people rarely think of other sibling names when you announce the baby's name. Ivy is cute too.

I wouldn't do Mia even though it's very nice just because that leaves you with having to pick a third "M" name for a future child. If you don't pick a third M name, then any other name looks like an outlier with your other two children.

I agree with Swistle about Alaia. What about Alicia or Alice?

Jodie said...

We have a friend who is Elia which is a different spelling but same pronunciation as your Alaia. I have always liked her name.

Johanna said...

I think Alaia is a beautiful name!!! I would never have associated it with 'a liar'. I would definitely use that name, just be prepared for teachers to mispronounce it on the first day of school every year... it is one that when read will be said wrong. Alaia May is lovely (and it sounds like you love it too).

On Max & Ruby: perhaps it is the first grade teacher in me, but you CAN'T do that to your kids. It is such a popular book series. And now there is a TV show. It won't go away. It would be like naming your kid Dora and Diego. :( Adding a Theo later would only make it worse I think, since he'd kind of be the odd man out in a set.

KWILY said...

I think I prefer Isla to Alaia, and sounds a lot the same. Max and Isla. So pretty and still unique. I love it do much. I love Ivy too and think Ruby would be just fine if you love it enough.

Elisabeth said...

I think I'd feel fine using Ruby, especially if you're planning to have another child.

Of Swistle's suggestions, I love Ivy, Sadie, and Lila.

Other suggestions:

gail said...

I think the obvious problem with Alaia is people won't know how to pronounce it or spell it, for that matter, if they do get the pronunciation down. It reminds me of Elias, but with that name there is the cool Eli nickname, and the "s" ending prevents mnemonic associations with liar.

Of Swistle's suggestions, I like Lila, Isla, Calla, Willa, Daisy, Phoebe and Ivy. Lots of them! I also love Max and Ruby. I have no idea who they are in popular culture, but whoever dreamed them up had a finger on the pulse, I gather a rather successful one. I agree with the previous poster that using Mia with Max would make naming a third child more problematic. And, to me, Mia is yet another name I don't know how to pronounce--some folks do it one way, some the other.

The Mrs. said...

Alaia does make me think 'a liar'. I'm so sorry! And it is remarkably close to your own name.

I'd never heard of Max and Ruby, but now that I have... yeah, it would be a deal-breaker.

So that leaves Mia. I said, "Max, Mia, and Theo" out loud several times. Mia and Theo started to come out as "Mio and Thea". This may become a hitch for you.

BUT Swistle's suggestion of Ivy is quite fantastic. Max, Ivy, and Theo sounds excellent! Another possibility is Zoe. Or Callie.
Max, Callie, and Theo. Sadie? Max, Sadie, and Theo.

Best of wishes to you and your growing family!

Michelle said...

I immediately think of Max & Ruby the TV show. I would be really surprised if someone used those names together. I would think they must not have known, and I would worry how they'd feel when they found out.

I like Lila and Alice and Phoebe.

Jenn 2 Ns said...

I would have pronounced Alaia like ah LAY ah, and I think Max and Ruby is unworkable, and I think Max and Mia is too matchy and too limiting for future kids.

I love Eliza because it's so close to Alaia but without any of the problems. It's close to Elena, but not any closer than Alaia is. I like Libby instead of Ruby. And I like Isla instead of Mia or Alaia.

beyond said...

I really like the sound of Alaia, but it does easily become a liar in my mind. Too bad, because it's a pretty name. I think Max and Ruby sounds great. I don't know the tv show, though.
I love Swistle's suggestion of Willa, Lila, Sadie! I suggest Ava, Nola, Violet. Max and Nola is sweet...
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Max and Ruby! Ruby and Max. Max and Ruby! Ruby and Max! The song starts playing in my mind right away.

Alaia does sound like "a liar" to me, but I live in the northeast so maybe that's why.

I think Max and Mia is great. I also like Max and Lila, and Max and Alice.

Anonymous said...

How about Alea or Aliya or one of the various spellings of that name pronounced "A-lee-a"? It's similiar to Alaia without the issues. Alea May.

phancymama said...

I agree that once you hear that Alaia is like "a liar" then that connection is cemented. And I was also one who immediately noticed how close it was to your name (not necessarily a bad thing), and I tried to pronounce it "a lay uh".

What about Thea? A previous commented mentioned it as a way that Theo and Mia get twisted for her, but it is one of my very very favorite names EVER. It is clearly female, somewhat unusual, and has the -uh (or -a) ending that you seem to like. It would (obviously) eliminate Theo, but since there is no promise you'd get to use Theo, it might be a consideration.

Good luck!

Laura said...

I too like Aliya (or change the spelling however to make it sound like A-LEE-ah. That was my first thought when I read Alaia. From Swistle's suggestions, I love Zoe. Max and cute. Zoe Elena. Along the Ruby theme, I love the name Lily as well...Max and Lily. Lily Elena or Lily Mae. Best wishes to you!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your second baby! I love the name Ruby and it sounds great with Max! I had never heard of the show though; too bad popular culture got that one first. I was going to say: Please consider the life span of kid shows and the cross-section of people who may notice...really it won't be that many people. Don't be a slave to the T.V. name your baby what you think is perfect for your family. BUT then I thought of the little boy and girl who would have to answer endless questions about their names being like the T.V. show.
Alternatively, I really like Ayla. Mia is quite popular(and another m) in a few countries, but Eliza is a good option (though I am not sure about popularity on this one). I recommend it from personal experience! It feels classic yet spunky to be an Eliza, and it sounds a lot like the name you love that has pronunciation issues.

Ohh what about Ariah. or Arriah. I have known 2 girls with this name. UH rye a...and it sounds so much like Alaia.

I just read your post again and think your names as middles is what is so cute about Max and Ruby. Maybe you need a new name that Elena can be a middle name for. Well Eliza is out and so is another a or e name really.

What about Elena Ruby? nn Lena (you go by Elle right) then later, Ruby, when the show is off the air...

Well, good luck in the search.

Anonymous said...

What about Nina as an alternative to Mia?

Nina May James
Max and Nina
Max, Nina, and Theo

Good luck!

Angie said...

Alright. When I saw your son's name was Max, I thought of the go-to brother name for Max, Leo, which sort of sounds like your favorite boy name Theo. In turn, I then remembered another parent wrote to Swistle with a daughter named Naomi and was considering Leo for her son. But she was worried Naomi and Leo sounded too perfect for siblings. The consensus was that Naomi and Leo were too perfect not to use, and I think Swistle said this reminded her of another perfect sibling set, Max and Emma. I could suggest Emma for you, but I'm going to suggest:


Max and Naomi.

See how the M and N are next to each other in the alphabet.

Maybe you don't want to give up Theo, and Theo would work well in that set, but if you want to continue the pattern you could do:'

Max / Naomi / Oscar
Max / Naomi / Ophelia

(I didn't suggest Olivia because it may be too close to Oliver.)

But if you can't give up Theo, Max / Naomi / Theo is super cute too.

Good luck.

(Formerly Frazzled Mom)

StephLove said...

Of the names on your whole list, and considering the sibling name, I like Mia and Amelia best from your first and second string. I'm afraid Ruby is out, though I do love it. Thinking of that show brought Louise to mind. She's Ruby's best friend but a minor character so people would be less likely to make the connection and it sounds so nice with Max. Max & Louise.

Or branching out into a few different styles I think work with Max-- Max & Ainsley, Max & Carmen, Max & Chelsea, Max & Samantha, Max & Simone, Max & Susannah. Max is a versatile-sounding name to me. A lot of different kinds of names go with it.

NameLover said...

Another vote for Thea. Thea Elena James is fantastic. Max and Thea also sound good together.

Alaia really sounds too much like Elena imo.

Anonymous said...

I love the suggestion of Isla Mae! Good job Swistle. My second favorite is Calla. Max, Calla, and Theo is an amazing sib set, and Calla James....... That is just music to my ears. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I rarely, if ever, suggest our own daughter's name, but it seems to fit with your style so well, so I will! Our daughter is named after a great-grandmother, Amalia, pronounced Ah-molly-ya. We often call her Molly or Malia (again, Molly-ya) for short. Our son shortens her name to something that sounds like Maia.

This name fits with your Alaia, Mia, Amaia, & Amelia style so well and the nickname Molly fits with your Ruby style, so you could get the best of both worlds. I think Amalia Elena & Amalia May both sound great, as does Max & Amalia (or Max & Molly, or Max & Maia...)

I feel strange putting *our* name out there, but there you go!

Rebecca said...

What about Alida? It's pronounced exactly like you're pronouncing Alaia, but with a D in there :) It's my Oma's name, and my sister's middle name, so it sounds completely normal and natural to me, yet uncommon. Then again,I grew up with Marjolein's, Trintje's, and Floris', so I might be slightly off-base...

Max and Alida. Hmmm... *I* like it :)

Karen L said...

I like so many of the suggestions, I can't even narrow it down. But I think my favourite is Thea, unless you cannot bear the thought of giving up a *possible* Theo.

Chantelle said...

How about Aleta? Very similar to Alaia without the unfortunate association. Or Avelina?

Elena said...

Wow thanks everyone for the great suggestions!!

Oliver and I have decided that Alaia, Ruby and Mia are all out, which makes me sad but obivously they are not right for us.

From the suggestions we love:

We like Thea, but prefer Theo. I also really love the sound of Amalia but we have friends with an Amelia which is why we can't use it and it is too close to Amalia!

I *think* my favourite is Lucy, but that's Oliver's least fave from the list. Hmmm! I would love to hear some opinions from you guys.

Keep the suggestions coming! :-)

gail said...

I live in the US, in a rural community in Maine. I know two women here who use the name Alida, pronounced with a long "i", and I've always thought it quite beautiful. I didn't think to recommend it at first.

I also realized that while I was among those recommending Isla at the same time that I was decrying Alaia because not everyone would know how to pronounce it, the same issues exist for Isla. Especially in Europe, Isla seems to be pronounced as "EES-la," whereas where I live, it is usually "EYE-la."

I also like Taya, but that would probably mean not using Theo in the future.

I like all of your latest list! (But still loving Ruby).

Sarah said...

I wanted to point out that while I love Max and Mia together, there is a series of salons called Miaa and Maxx and our town happens to have one. If yours does, or there's one nearby, that might be a dealbreaker:


Anonymous said...

From your revised list, I like Isla May or Lucy Elena, but they're all great!

Mary said...


are all really nice names. Lucy Elena sounds lovely, as does Ayla Tess.

What about

Anabel/Annabelle > Max & Annie?
Louella - Lucy, Lou, Lulu

vanessa said...

I know a girl named Allaire, if that helps. Or Adair. Those are a little similar to your favorite....
I also like Isla for you!