Our first baby is due in September & baby naming has turned into a full-blown obsession for me! We found out it's a girl so at least that narrows it down. I am driving my husband crazy, so I thought it was time to get some professional help :) A few things - Sowder is my husband's last name & will be the baby's also. Antoinette is my mother's name and we would love to use it as the middle name if possible, but we're flexible. Also, we tend to like names that are unique, or a little older sounding & potentially inspired by nature (but that's not a must).
Here are some of my rejected names or at least names I have moved away from somewhat:Scarlett Louise Sowder (my husband's favorite)Nickname: LettieLouMagnolia June SowderNickname: Lia or MaggieHere is my current list:Etta June SowderCora Antoinette Sowder (one of my favorites)Ophelia Antoinette SowderNickname: LiaJuniper Marie Sowder (also like this one a lot)Nickname: Juni
Ellamae SowderNickname: EllaThanks so so much - we're not closed off to anything (even a completely new name not on the list) and welcome any guidance from you and the community.
I think this is one of the hardest stages of baby-naming: the list has been made, but nothing is leaping out as the obvious favorite. This is the stage where I like to do little naming exercises and games, to see if I can narrow in on what I really want. I also find it helpful to go into it remembering that no matter WHAT name I choose, it means not-choosing all the others: there will be a sad, letting-go feeling even if we choose the name that is the best one; it's not an indication that we're making the wrong choice.
One of my favorite exercises/games is Sibling Names. If you choose an unusual name with a literary tie-in, like Ophelia, are there sibling names you can picture using, or will you run into trouble? If Ella and Etta are too similar for you to want to use them for sisters, and so using one of the names will rule out the other name, which name do you prefer? If you want to use Lia as a nickname for Ophelia, would that rule out using Magnolia (Lia) for a future daughter? Things like that.
In a related game, I like to pair up similar names from the list and see which ones sound most like Our Family. Even if we might not use other names from the list for future children, or even if we might never have another girl, or even if we're not planning more children---it can still help to focus things. Which sounds more like Your Family: sisters named Magnolia and Juniper? sisters named Etta and Cora? sisters named Juniper and Scarlett?
And there are the tricks in the post Choosing Between Two Finalists, which also work for more than two finalists. Some of these will require participation from the other parent, but some of them can be done on your own if one of you has a greater interest than the other in such exercises.
When Paul and I got down to seven candidates for Henry's name, we each ranked the seven names to see if there were any we both had at the bottom of the list. But we didn't do a plain 1-7 ranking: we could assign the same ranking to as many names as we wanted. So for example, one of you might have this:
2. Etta, Ellamae
5. Ophelia, Magnolia
And the other one might have this:
1. Cora, Juniper
2. Etta, Ellamae
4. Scarlett, Magnolia
Looking at the two sets of rankings side by side, you might think, "Well, we both have Ophelia and Magnolia below the top three, so let's try striking those two. And if one of us has Scarlett first and the other of us has it last, it's not likely to be The Name. But we both have Etta and Ellamae and Juniper in our top three, so let's see if it makes us happy to make those the three finalists now." It is important to remind less-enthusiastic baby namers such as Paul that this does not mean the others are ACTUALLY eliminated. They MIGHT be eliminated, but it's more of a practice elimination to see how you feel about those names no longer being candidates. It can happen that as soon as one gets knocked out, you realize you like it better than you thought. Or it can happen that as soon as a name is in the top three, you realize you're not really willing to use it. But it can also actually narrow things down: we found we had several names that we both liked, but that neither of us liked better than the other names on the list, and it was a relief to cross those out and have fewer names to consider. Getting down to the top three made me feel like we now had a solvable problem instead of an impossible math equation.
Imagine announcing the name to others: friends, family, internet. Do you feel particularly glad to imagine any of the options? particularly uncertain about any of the options? Do any of the names feel like a name you'd love if someone else used, but the name doesn't actually fit with your family?
Imagine having each of the names as your own name; picture introducing yourself to someone else. Are there any where you wouldn't really want to have the name? Any you'd particularly love to have?
Imagine the names on a backpack, on a school desk, being told to a parent/child on the playground who asks. When you're out in public, look at a variety of different people (well, female people!) and imagine the names on each one. Imagine arriving for an appointment at the pediatrician, saying "This is ______, she has a 9:30 appointment." Imagine the names on a receptionist, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a check-out clerk, a landscaper. Imagine them on someone plain and plump with glasses. Imagine them on someone in math club, in drama club, in cheerleading, on the soccer team. Imagine them on your various relatives. Do any names seem like a better/worse fit than any others?
Say the names in different ways. A middle name can make the first name and last name sound great together---but most of the time the name will be just first-last, and does it also sound good like that?
Deliberately taking a break can also help. If you say to yourselves, "We will put this topic on a shelf for two weeks," you may find that during that time one of the finalists will float to the top on its own. Perhaps you'll catch yourselves thinking of the baby by a certain name, or having a slightly negative reaction to one of the names.
It can also help to see how you react to other people's opinions. When people in the comments section say which names they like best, do you find yourself rooting for certain names? feeling disappointed when other names seem to take the lead? feeling extra-protective of certain names? If I say that I like Magnolia best, and that I particularly like the rhythm of Magnolia Sowder, does that have an effect either way? (I would use Antoinette as the middle name: I love family names, I love long names, etc.) All these feelings can help.
Let's have a poll over to the right, too, to see which names you're hoping will win! [Poll closed; see results below.]