Claiming Baby Names: Okay or Not?

Recently, while reading Melanie’s post, Are Your Baby Names Top Secret? I got to thinking.  Some people mentioned in the comments that people they knew had “claimed” baby names — before they were even expecting!  We’ve run into the same thing.

It’s kind of the opposite of “secret.”  Long before you are even planning to have children, you announce what you plan to name your someday-future children.  While every person has the right to name their baby whatever they choose…is it okay to “claim” the name — that is, say that no one else in your immediate family or friends can’t use it?

Personally, I don’t really understand how someone can say, “My first child will be X or Y.”  (That is, insert girl and boy names.)  I can’t imagine picking a name that suits a child that doesn’t even exist yet.  I like to get to know my babies during my pregnancy before choosing a name.  But, I know plenty of people for whom a particular name (or names) holds a special meaning, and so they plan to use it just as soon as they have a child.

And that’s cool.  I have a friend who loved the name William, and decided in high school that her first son would be William (he is).  But she didn’t tell all of us this 8,000 times before she ever had children and announce that none of us could name our child that.  I heard this story, actually, at her baby shower, just weeks before his birth.

To me, the line is here: it’s one thing to say, “I love the name X and plan to use it for my baby someday.”  It’s another thing entirely to say, “I’m naming my first baby X and I’ll be really mad if any of you steal it from me.”  Especially when the person saying it doesn’t have any plans to have children for several years yet.

It’s also a little different to me if the person announcing the baby’s name (and hoping others won’t “steal” it) is already pregnant with that child, especially if the name they’re announcing is unique.  (It’s kind of silly to say “I’m naming my son John and no one better steal it!” — do you know how many “Johns” are in the world already?  I can’t count how many other Daniels we’ve met!  But that’s okay because mine is still special to me.)

Choose to name your children whatever you want…but respect that others have the right to choose, too.  It’s possible that your favorite baby name is your sister’s or best friend’s favorite baby name too!  Maybe it would seem kind of awkward if you were all hanging out together, but maybe not.  Maybe the kids with the same first name won’t share a middle or last name.  Maybe they’ll be completely different ages (like 5 and newborn).  And they’ll still be unique kids…even if they share a first name.

I know I hate restrictions like this.  When we were going over our list of names for our other two babies, we kept coming back to a few that we liked.  “Nope, cousin with that name.”  “Nope, my sister claimed it.” and so on.  I know some people prefer not to have two babies with the same name in the same family — and that’s okay — but if you really love a name, why can’t you choose it?  My uncle and cousin share the same first name (not his son), and it also happens to be my brother’s middle name.  It’s not weird.  Everyone just loved the name, and felt free to use it.

What do you think?  Is it okay to “claim” baby names?  Or should you name your baby whatever you want?

Article Posted 7 years Ago

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