I am entering week 32 of pregnancy and this is our first child. We found out over fathers day we are having a BOY!! I have had a list of names in the running for awhile now, but we are just not 100% and I was hoping for a little help. It has been a little bit of a challenge because my husband is a teacher/coach and knows a lot of kids. That has ruled out a few names we like. We want something that is unique and not overly popular, but still a solid strong name that when you see this on paper, you know how to say it! No names that start with P due to our last name starting with P. Pippert is pronounced (Peepert) .The list we have started for the boys is this and has been pretty consistent for months now.
Jackson (I know is popular)
Graham (My husbands name is Grant so may be too similar)
Isaac (for a middle name)
Isaiah (for a middle name)
James (for a middle name)
Bankes (pronounced Banks, for a middle name)
The girl names we liked were:
I notice you have unisex names on both the boy-name and the girl-name lists. Unisex names can be a little tricky to work with, so if you are planning to have more than one child, this is the perfect time to think about such things.
There are a few ways to go with it. One is to give all the children unisex names: a sibling group of, for example, Emerson, Grayson, Blake, and Finley. You could even do the fun thing one of my cousins did: she and her husband agreed on a particular unisex name for each child before they knew the sex, using that name either way.
Another is to use unisex names for all the girls OR for all the boys, and non-unisex names for the others. A sibling group of, for example, boys named Vincent and Maddox, and girls named Finley and Gracen; or boys named Emerson and Finley, and girls named Grace and Laney.
Another is to choose your favorite name each time and not worry about it too much: a sibling group of, for example, boys named Emerson and Maddox, girls named Finley and Grace.
My own preference is for HINTS. That is, if I used unisex names for my sons, I’d want to use specifically girl-only names for my daughters to help people remember who was who. I also like to use specific middle names with unisex first names: Emerson James, for example, or Finley Grace.
To help you narrow down your list, I suggest playing games. One game I particularly like is Name the Sibling Group. Imagine how many children you think you’re likely to have; let’s say that number is three. Imagine yourselves gathered around the table for dinner, or imagine the children hanging around in the living room, or imagine introducing your whole family at an event. Pick some sibling name groups, and see which ones seem like Your Family. If you imagine Kendrick, Finley, and Vance arguing about Monopoly, does that feel RIGHT? Does it feel more or less right to imagine them as Jackson, Grace, and Ethan? More or less right to imagine them as Emerson, Blake, and Finley? More or less right to imagine them as Gannon, Grayson, and Graham?
Not only can that game help you find your naming style, it can help you find issues that might not have come up until you were naming a second child. For example, you might find you don’t want to repeat any initials, in which case with this very first child you may want to decide which G name (or which E name, or which V name) you like best of all the names for both sexes. Or perhaps you don’t want to duplicate endings, in which case this would be the moment to pick your favorite among Emerson, Jackson, Nelson, and Grayson.
Another exercise I find helpful is to start pairing up firsts and middles. Sometimes a particular first-and-middle combination will rise above the crowd, even if the names individually didn’t stand out. Also, I find it shows me which names I feel most drawn to: if I find myself WANTING to make a name work, or reaching for it again and again, or AVOIDING a particular name, that’s all useful information.
It can also alert you to issues with initials: if, like me, you prefer initials not to spell anything, you’d know to avoid Vincent Isaac Pippert; or perhaps you have the opposite preference and the fun initials will help you make the decision.
Another exercise is for each of you to assign rankings to all the names in the list. Names can share the same rankings, so that for example you could have Ethan, Jackson, and Vance all marked 1, and Maddox marked 2, and Gannon and Nelson both marked 3, and so on. When you and your husband compare your lists, perhaps you will see that both of you have the same couple of names marked very low on the list, too low to have any chance of being used over names higher on the list, and so it’s safe to take those out of the running. Or maybe both of you will have the same couple of names marked very high on the list. Or maybe your lists will be absolutely opposite, and you’ll know the choice might need to be from the overlap in the middle.
When Paul and I were naming Henry, I remember us finding it useful to say, “Is there any chance we’d use THIS name over these other names?” There were a ton of names we liked and COULD have used, but it helped to realize the name Alan wasn’t going to win over the names Henry and Charlie, and the name Daniel wasn’t going to win over the names Oliver and Milo. Before then, we kept getting caught up in thinking we didn’t want to remove any names from the list because we LIKED those names and there was no REASON to remove them; this let us take names off the list without feeling like it had to be because we didn’t like them anymore.
Another exercise is to start striking names off the list for various non-deal-breaker reasons, and then see what’s left at the end and how you feel about it. If it were my list, I think I would take Ethan off. Not only is it very popular (Top 10 since 2002, according to the Social Security Administration), but the repeating long-E sound draws attention to the “pee” sound in your surname. Then I might take off Kendrick because Kendrick Pippert is difficult for me to say—something about the repeating K’s and then the repeating P’s, I think. Then I might take off Jackson for being too popular, Graham for being too similar to your husband’s name, and Emerson and Finley for being currently more popular for girls.
Again, none of these are ACTUAL reasons a name SHOULD be removed from the list: the idea of the exercise is to see what’s left on the list, and how you feel about what’s left, and how you feel about losing some of the names. You might find, for example, that as soon as you remove Ethan and Jackson for popularity, you realize you don’t care about popularity as much as you care about those names. Or maybe you find you’re disappointed there’s no reason to cross off a particular name, and that will tell you it’s not a name you still want on the list.
A similar game is to pretend you have decided on each name in turn. Say to each other, “Okay: his name is Kendrick.” Measure your reactions. Do you feel glad? Does your heart rise up happily? Or do you feel disappointed, or unsettled? Try it again with the next name: “Okay: his name is Maddox.” Measure your reactions again; compare them to your husband’s reactions. Are any reactions matching? Those might be good names to bump up the list, or to remove.
It’s a good sign, I think, that your name list has stayed stable for quite awhile. This tells me that it’s likely you’d be happy with ANY of the names on the list, and the difficulty is picking your favorite out of many excellent choices.