Baby Girl or Boy S., Sibling to Jamri and Avia Marie


My husband, Jason, and I have 2 daughters, Jamri Nova and Avia Marie (2 first names) Poppy (middle name). We are expecting a baby due March 8, 2016 but can’t figure out what to name it if this is a girl! We like names that are not super common but something that will match up somewhat with the names of our current kids too. I have been throwing names at my husband for almost 9 months now and he hasn’t been satisfied with almost any of them. I’m running out of options and time.

Also we pay close attention to initials since our last name begins with an S (we thought of Ayla Scout S… Which leaves us with initials of A.S.S.)

Names I have thought of for a girl are:
Ayla or Elah
Cedar– I absolutely love, husband isn’t yet convinced
Willow– love but seems very popular
Serenity –we both don’t like this anymore
Fable–no longer a favorite
Romy–no longer a favorite
Scout– I love but husband says the poor girl will feel she has to be a “tomboy”
Xumi (zū-mee)
Olivia Jane

One name we had almost officially chosen for our girl was recently the name one of our friends chose for their baby girl born a few days ago (we hadn’t shared any names in advance so we were completely shocked they had the same name picked). The name was Finley. We feel too close to them to choose the same name they gave but still love the name so anything similar to that would be welcome too.

Thank-you in advance,


I like how you included names that used to be favorites but no longer are. It’s helpful because it keeps us from suggesting those same names, but also because it adds to the overall picture of your style. To work with this list, I’d start by crossing all those names off—but I’d leave them visible, because I think we’ll find them useful.

Brace yourself, because I’m in the mood today to start with big CHOPPING motions, like an explorer cutting swaths through a tangle of vines. I’m going to remove Olivia and Harper because I think you’ll find those too popular for your tastes: Olivia was #2 in 2014 and Harper was #11. I’m going to remove Evvie and Ayla for being so similar to Avia: Evvie in sound and Ayla in appearance. And I’m removing Emery for being too similar to Jamri. I’m removing Huxley, Judah, Mica, Ren, and Ollie for sounding like brother names in this sibset, and I’m going to add Ren back in as Wren. I’m taking out Cedar and Scout, at least until your husband changes his mind. Willow was #138 in popularity in 2014, which may or may not be too popular for your tastes; lets leave it in for now.

Let’s see what that leaves us with.

Trixie; Jamri, Avia Marie, and Trixie
Willow; Jamri, Avia Marie, and Willow
Wren; Jamri, Avia Marie, and Wren
Nava; Jamri, Avia Marie, and Nava
Ziva; Jamri, Avia Marie, and Ziva
Xumi; Jamri, Avia Marie, and Xumi

The ones I would LIKE to remove are Trixie and Xumi. I would like to see Trixie back in circulation as a sweet fairy/pixie nickname for Beatrix, but it feels too lightweight to me on its own. Xumi hits my ear as Zoomy.

Also, I didn’t notice during my first cut, but Nava are Ziva are quite close to Avia.

Willow does seem a little too familiar in this sibset. Wren might, too.

Let’s see what that leaves us with. …Oops. Too much cutting.

Well, let’s work now on building things back up. I see that you like the sound of the letter V: Nova, Avia, Evvie, Nava, Ziva, Olivia. And I see you like the sound of the letters X and Z: Trixie, Huxley, Xumi, Ziva. You like -a and -ie/y sounds/endings. You like contemporary sounds used in unusual combinations. You like word names, and a touch of whimsy. One of you likes unisex names but the other doesn’t seem to.

I want to bring back Mica from the original list. With that spelling, it doesn’t look boyish at all; and even the spelling Micah is sometimes used for girls. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Mica.

Or maybe take Ren, and instead of making it Wren, make it Renna or Wrenna or Reni or Rinna.

I wonder if Roxie feels more solid than Trixie. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Roxie.

Zola would be pretty, I think: Jamri, Avia Marie, and Zola. Or you could spell it Xola.

Instead of Finley, I wonder if you’d like Brinley or Linley. I particularly like Linley in this sibling group: Jamri, Avia Marie, and Linley. This may still feel way too close to your friends’ child’s name. Maybe Linden instead.

Or Quincy. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Quincy. That might not work with a surname beginning with the S sound.

Or Insley. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Insley.

Perhaps something like Arlie/Arley. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Arlie. I can’t tell if that fits well, or if’s too many repeated sounds.

Instead of Ayla, something like Aylin. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Aylin.

Idelyn (EYE-dah-lyn). Jamri, Avia Marie, and Idelyn.

Evanie has the sound of Evvie, but with another consonant to set it further apart from Avia. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Evanie.

Or Essa. Jamri, Avia Marie, and Essa. May not work with a surname beginning with S.

Baby Girl Wendelborn, Sister to Olivia

Our first was hard to name. We had 5 names, all of which my husband loved, but none felt ‘right.’ Once she was born both of us just KNEW she was Olivia. Even though it was neither of our top names.

Hoping for similar success with our second girl, but we can’t even get a list of 5. My last name is Wendelborn. Olivia is Olivia Park (a family name, and its short, Olivia is a lot of syllables).

We have the following but none feel right:

Peyton (I dont like boy/girl names, but my husband loves it).
Sloan(e) (too manly? we also like it without the e so people dont say “sloan-ey” but everyone says the e makes it a girl)
Addilynn (I dont love)
Ella (too spanish?)
Lucy (this and Emma above seem kind of boring)
Saylor (I love it, but my husband doesn’t, and I”m scare to commit to an unusual name if he isn’t on board)
Rowan (same as Saylor, means little red head, and would only do it if she has red hair (very likely) but might need another red head name)
Amelia (family name, lots of good nicknames, I dont love Amelia, but as far as family names Amelia and Olivia were sisters)
Caroline (this and Claire, pretty but a little boring like Emma, Ella, etc)
Charlotte (pretty name, but no quick nicknames when talking to her, we call Olivia “livi” when we need a quick name)

We’re all over the place. Help!


I was curious about the usage rates for Sloan/Sloane. Here’s what we have for 2014:

Sloan: 336 F, 72 M
Sloane: 874 F, 6 M

So while it does look as if parents opting to use the name for a boy strongly prefer the Sloan spelling, and parents opting to use the name for a girl somewhat prefer the Sloane spelling, both spellings are used for girls and I think you could take your pick. I’m hoping we have a commenter who has experience with the Sloane spelling; I wouldn’t have expected people to pronounce it Sloan-ey, but I haven’t had experience with it to know.

The name Sloan(e) doesn’t seem manly to me; I’m familiar with it as a name used mostly for girls. It is quite a change from the syllables/style of Olivia. I wonder if it would make a good middle name? It seems nicely similar to Park. Something like Olivia Park and Amelia Sloan is pleasing. But perhaps you have another good family name for the middle.

I wonder if you’d like Fiona or Sophia or Josephine? They all remind me of the sounds of Sloan and Rowan.

With the sister name Olivia, my favorite name for a possible redhead is Rose. Olivia and Rose. So pretty. And Rose Wendelborn sounds spectacular to me: I want it for my own name.

I love Olivia and Amelia together, and I love that the namesakes were also sisters.

Olivia and Charlotte are great together, and a quick nickname for Charlotte is Lottie. Livi and Lottie! Charming.

Ella doesn’t feel Spanish to me. I like it in style with Olivia, but it feels maybe a little L-heavy with it: Olivia and Ella feels like I am making a lot of the same sounds, except that Ella has fewer of them. I also find Ella Wendelborn a little difficult to say.

I like Olivia and Claire together, too. I like the way they LOOK together, too. Not that that’s important, just appealing.

If I were in charge of your list of five, this is how I’d do it:


plus Rose as a bonus name, if she’s a redhead or even if she’s not.

Baby Naming Issue: Used the Mom’s First Choice for the First Daughter; Now the Dad Wants to Use His First Choice for the Second Daughter

Dear Swistle,

I am four months pregnant with our second girl (did the early blood test) and desperately want some input on our naming situation. My husband and I have been married for almost six years now and have been constantly playing the “What would we name our future children?” game. We have a long list of boys names we love and we generally like and dislike the same boy names. HOWEVER. In six years of playing this game, we came up with exactly one girls’ name and we’ve already given it to our first daughter: Lydia Belle. The name Lydia has been my favorite since I read it in a book when I was nine. When I told my husband what it was, I *may* have prefaced it by saying, “If you hate this name, part of me might die.” He said ok, suggested the middle name, and there was never any question about our daughter’s name after that. Around the same time we discussed my favorite name my husband said his favorite girls name was Jennica and I was…not enthusiastic. I love classic girls names like Charlotte, Emma, Isabelle, etc, and to me Jennica is a solid 90’s name. I told him that I didn’t hate it (I really have nothing against this name, I’m fine with the way it sounds and all, it’s just not my style) but it definitely wasn’t in my top ten. I also said I’d be more amenable if we spelled it Jenica (more traditional spelling that was used in places like Russia before the 90s).

Well after we found out we’re having another girl, my husband starting referring to her as Jenica. When I protested, he said, “But we used your favorite name, why can’t we use mine? You said you were ok with Jenica. Lydia wasn’t in my top ten, but you really liked it, so I said yes.” The problem is, he has a point. And there aren’t any other names I’m REALLY liking right now. I have a few I like, but none of them are grabbing me, so part of me agrees with him. I’m ok with the name, and I don’t have one I love, so why not let him use his favorite name? The other part of me, though, doesn’t want to use a name I’m not in love with. I’ve been poring over name lists and discussing names with my husband, but today he admitted he is having a hard time giving any other name a fair shot because of how much he loves Jenica. He’s told me I could give her whatever middle name I want, but he’s really feeling that Jenica is the perfect name for this girl. I felt exactly the same way about Lydia, so I understand where he’s coming from. What would you do? Any great suggestions of names similar to Jenica that I could get him to love? Or should I start learning to love it for his sake? Does it sound too 90s to anyone but me?

Oh, and a few notes: I dislike the nicknames Jen and Jenny. Also, our last name is Van Leeuwen (pronounced van loo-en), so neither of us wants to use a name that is hard to pronounce or spell. The only name we both kind of like is Anaelle (pronounced on-eye-yell), but we’ve already agreed that if we used it, it would have to stay in middle name territory (for above reason).

Any advice would be great! Thanks!



It WOULD be nice if your husband could have his first choice this time, since you got your first choice last time. But it’s difficult to compare how much he liked the name Lydia to how much you like the name Jenica; it could be that it’s not at all a fair swap. And the quickness/easiness with which he agreed to Lydia, compared to the difficulty you’re having with the name Jenica even though you really, really want him to give him his choice this time, tells me it is indeed not a similar sacrifice.

I am influenced as well by agreeing with you that the name Jenica sounds a little dated: it makes me think of Jessica and Jennifer and Erica and Jenna and Nicole, while Lydia is a current vintage-revival choice.

Well. As I was trying to figure out what to advise, it occurred to me that Jenica also reminds me of Annika, which is a much more current choice, and is similar to the name Anaelle you both like. I like Lydia and Annika together in a way I don’t feel about Lydia and Jenica, and the nickname Annie has a sweet classic sound. Liddy and Annie! I have a strong feeling about this, like I want to grab a fistful of your shirt-front in one hand and your husband’s shirt-front in my other hand and say “ANNIKA” very intensely until you both nod.

It is great when baby-naming can work out perfectly fairly, but it rarely does: one parent cares a lot more about names, or one parent has better family names or a better family, or one parent’s surname is used for all the children, or WHATEVER. I do feel it’s important for you both to feel happy about the names, and I hope your husband WAS and IS happy about the name Lydia—but whether or not he was/is, I think the fairest of all is for you both to be happy with this next child’s name. You are being so understanding and well-intentioned about this, and it makes me even more hope that this all works out beautifully for both of you.

For now I suggest giving everything a little time. I suggest that he pretend there is some reason Jenica is off the table (for example, he could pretend that your first daughter had been named Jenica), and see if he can find more names he likes WITHOUT trying to compare them to the name Jenica. And in the meantime, the name may grow on you—or perhaps you or he will come up with another option you both love. I don’t think it would be a good idea to commit to it when you’re uncertain AND there’s still lots of time left.

Baby Names to Consider: Classic/Traditional Names with Atypical/Non-Traditional Nicknames

Hi Swistle!

I’m an avid reader of yours, but not actually pregnant yet so I understand this question may be low priority. I send this with the hope that it will catch your interest, as I can’t find a similar discussion online, plus you and your readers are my favorite.

I have been trying to brainstorm a certain type of girls name. I’m drawn to them whenever I hear them, but they are hard to find because sometimes they are generated by a creative mind.

Basically they are medium-long, typically classic/traditional (at the very least recognizable), names that naturally (ish) shorten to a nickname that does not sound like a typical/traditional name. Obviously the categorization of typical/traditional is subjective in this case.


Prudence –> Prue
Clementine –> Clem
Annalise –> Dise (prounounced Dees)
____ –> Len
____–> Tru

More often than not I love the nickname, and either don’t know a full form or don’t love it. Prudence/Clementine are a little more obscure than I’m looking for in the root name. I’m desperate for more names that fall into this category so I can find the perfect mix where I like both forms. Also welcome to suggestions for long form of Len and Tru.



I am not sure I yet have my finger on what we’re looking for, but I am interested to try, and I have high hopes for the comments section. Is this at all the sort of thing you mean?

Alexandria – Lex, Xan, Andy, Dearie
Adelaide – Lady, Del
Anastasia – Taze
Bernadette – Bernie/Bennie
Camilla – Mills
Charlotte – Chaz
Charlotte – Chip
Clementine – Minty
Eleanor/Eleanora – Len
Elizabeth – Bet
Elizabeth – Bo
Evangeline – Van
Felicity – Flip
Gertrude – Tru
Helena – Len
Josephine – Fee
Katherine – Kit
Lenore/Lenora – Len
Madeleine – Del, Len
Meredith – Red
Penelope – Pip
Philippa – Pip
Rebecca – Bex
Roberta – Birdie
Savannah – Van
Susanna – Zan
Temperance – Perry, Ren
Valentina – Len

One way to get a nickname that is unconventional and yet easy to explain is to use initials. Let’s say your child’s surname started with a U; then you could name her Temperance Roberta U. and call her Tru. Or if her surname will not start with U., you could name her Temperance Roberta Ursula Smith, or do some fancy footwork with Temperance Ruth.

It’s too much to hope for, but it’s even possible the surname will lend itself to something many people try to avoid, which is having a first name the merges with the surname. Let’s say the surname were Rupert, and you named your daughter Juliet: many parents would avoid this combination because of the way the -t of Juliet blends with the Ru- of Rupert, but it would be a plus for anyone looking for the nickname Tru. Again, I realize this is a very unlikely scenario. But perhaps something to consider when looking for co-parents of future children. “Pardon me, cute stuff, but before I give you my number would you mind telling me your surname? And do you have a pen and paper so I can play with some combinations?”

Another way is to brazen it out. We have seen many, many parents on this blog who would like to use a nickname but can’t find or don’t like any long forms, and while you COULD for example name her Verity and then call her Tru as a clever joke, at a certain point I think there’d be less of an issue just saying, “This is Elizabeth Smith; we call her Tru.” Follow-up questions could be answered with “It was a baby nickname that just stuck” or “It just kind of happened!” or “Oh, it’s a long and boring story!”

Another option is to use the nickname you want as a middle name, and then use the middle name as one of her nicknames. Elizabeth Tru Smith, called Tru. Margaret Len Smith, called Len. “It’s her middle name” is a nice, simple explanation.

Baby Boy, Brother to Charles (Huck), Isaac, Katherine, and Seth

Dear Swistle,

Our fifth baby and likely last baby is due at the end of March. My husband and I typically have a very hard time coming to an agreement on names and this time has proved to be no different. We have a son Charles Martin IV (nn Huck), son Isaac Scott, daughter Katherine Elizabeth (nn Kate), and son Seth Ulysses.

I would like to use my maiden name Keller. I also like the name Elliot but not nearly as much as Keller. My husband likes the name Xavier. His 2nd choice is Henry. My husband says that Keller is a last name not a first name. I pointed out that many last names have become first names throughout the years. I am not a fan of either of his choices – Xavier – the fact that it is pronounced with a Z not X (I’ve asked around and everyone seems to have a differing opinion on how to pronounce it) and Henry is more popular than I would like. I know it is popular but I would consider Andrew (nn Drew in honor of a friend). Husband likes Oliver.

We do not want names that end in “n” as our last name ends with an “n”, not a super popular name, and something that is easy to spell (I grew up spelling my name). I like names that have an “L” in them as our last name begins with “L” but not first names that begin with “L” (too alliterative for my taste).

If we were having a girl – we would have used Caroline or Charlotte.

Help us come to an agreement or rather – how can I convince him to use my maiden name?

Thank you!


Am I assuming correctly that your first child is named after your husband? That is, that his names and his family tradition were used for your first child, presumably as he wished? If I were you I think I’d lean on that a bit here. It is a BIG DEAL to essentially allow previous generations of your husband’s family to name your firstborn, and I believe you deserve a little more of a reason from him for not using your maiden name than “it’s a last name not a first name.” Pardon me, husband, but Charles and Martin are ALSO surnames, as are Xavier, Henry, and Oliver.

And am I further assuming correctly that all of your children have your husband’s last name? That is, that his family name is being carried on in every single one of their names?

One reason I chose to do this question is that indignation gets me going, as demonstrated already in this answer. The second reason is that by purest coincidence, so pure and so coincidental that I will not blame you if you pause to wonder about my honesty and integrity, I encountered a Keller yesterday. It was in a natural context, where I overheard the name being used; my mom and I refer to that as “the mall test,” based on early experiences hearing names used at the mall and finding our reactions were not always as we’d expect. For example, sometimes we’d overhear a name on our favorites list, and hearing it used was what knocked it right out of the running; other times, we’d hear a name we didn’t even think we liked, and suddenly felt it was an extremely awesome name.

Where was I? Oh, yes: I was waiting for an appointment, and one employee called out to another employee nearby, “Keller, do you have those test results?” And I thought, “!!!!” The Keller in question was a grown man, and my impression was unexpectedly favorable. That is, if I had tried to answer this question before that experience, I might have fretted that Keller sounded feminine because of the name Kelly; after hearing a man called Keller, my impression was that it was unisex leaning masculine and worked very nicely on a guy. Checking current U.S. usage, I see that in 2014 there were 29 new baby girls and 168 new baby boys named Keller. (That is, the FIRST NAME was Keller. Point this out to your husband.)

A third reason I chose to do this question is that there are few things that give me as much of a thrill as when it works out to use the mother’s maiden name as a child’s first name. Oh to have been born a Wilson, a Simon, a Davis, a Clark, a Charles, a Henry—rather than a difficult Dutch surname that would make a terrible first name! The name Keller represents a style shift from the sibling names, but I feel as if the explanation makes it completely reasonable—and it helps that your Charles is called Huck.

I will not attack your husband for not wanting to use a name: if he really dislikes the name Keller, I’d reluctantly agree that he should have more of a say in it than I should. But I do think he needs to make sure that he is being fair. “It’s a last name” is a reason that does not coincide with reality: yes, it’s a “surname name,” but it is in fact being used as a first name, as are many other surnames. And if my assumptions are correct about him wanting to make your first child a IV, and about using his surname for every single one of your children, then I believe he should WANT if at all possible to make room for your family name. If “it’s a last name” turns out to be a fake reason and the real reason is that he dislikes the name, then perhaps Keller could be used as the middle name.

Baby Girl Phl@th

Dear Swistle,

My husband and I are expecting a baby girl in early February – our first and maybe only child. I’ve been nerding out on name blogs since before I got pregnant, but it’s hard to find one that works in reality. Neither of us want a popular name – nothing in the top 100 or so. However, we keep coming up with names that are relatively rare but perhaps too similar to popular names. Ideally, I’d like a longer, elegant name, with a two syllable nickname ending in the -ee sound to call her at home. I’m picky about nicknames – I don’t like ones that sound too common or sound like a boy’s name. Our last name sounds like Phl@th.

My husband really likes Lenora (ranked around #1600 in 2014), which I think is lovely, but the issue is with what nickname to use. He says Nora, but when you combine the number of girls named Nora (#49) and Norah (#163), the name “Nora” actually ranks in the top 25. So if we call her Nora, or if she decides she wants to go by Nora, we would have inadvertently given her a popular name. Other potential nicknames are Nori, or Lennie, which is also problematic because it sounds like the nickname for an old man Leonard. Some alternatives to Lenora we are considering are Lenore, which doesn’t flow as nicely, and Leona.

Our other top name is Mirah. Again, the name itself is fairly rare (together, Mira and Mirah ranked around #600). However, it sounds very similar to more popular names such as Mia and Mila, so I worry that Mirah would still seem trendy and not unique. I’m also having a hard time committing to Mirah because it’s only two syllables. We don’t want to lengthen to Mirabelle because someone close to us has that as a last name. We are considering Vera as an alternative, but we don’t like it as much, and Vivi might be too trendy of a nickname.

We considered Rosalie, until I discovered that when you add up all names that include some form of Rose, there are about 7,000 girls who could go by Rose/Rosie as a nickname, which is essentially in the top 25. We also like Violetta, pronounced Vee-oh-letta, but Violet is climbing in popularity, and it would be too annoying to us that it would often be mispronounced with a long i sound.

Other names I like that my husband vetoed: Felicity, Fiona, Melody, Miranda (another way to get to Mirah), Camilla

I would love to get some perspective from you and your readers about whether our favorite names come off as too popular or trendy.

Thank you!


Lenora makes me think of the name Linnea (lih-NAY-ah), nickname Linnie.

The spelling Mirah is not one I’m familiar with; I wouldn’t be sure how to pronounce it. My first guess would probably be like Myra, because the spelling makes me think of the name Micah. If I knew it was a short-I sound, I might think the emphasis was on the second syllable, like the words hurrah and mirage—not because I’d think that was likely, but because the puzzle-solving part of my brain would be wondering why the H was at the end, as I would if I saw the name Kirah or Emmah.

I think it’s normal to be attracted to the sounds that are currently popular, even if you’re looking for a less popular name. Lenora feels unusual to me, but the nickname Nora feels very current. Mirah, even with an unusual spelling, feels current to me, fitting in with Kira and Lilah and Aria and so forth. The best way to avoid names that are popular (or could become popular) is to choose sounds that are not currently in favor—but that means choosing a name many people won’t like the sound of, including you. I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Remember that if you restructure the rankings by adding up spellings, nicknames, etc., you have to restructure ALL the rankings. That is, if Rose and Nora are added to the Top 25, they kick out two names that are currently residing there. Or, perhaps they themselves get kicked back out of the Top 25, by other names that would join the Top 25 if we combined spellings/nicknames.

I think it’s excellent to use the available data and to make sure you’re not falling into traps—but a number that looks large when it’s national (such as 7,000 girls who could theoretically use the name or nickname Rose) can be hard to figure out at the local-school-classroom level. And there’s no way to predict the particular local classroom, either: we’ve had only one Rose and one Nora in all five of the kids’ classrooms over the years, but another commenter could easily report that her child has had Roses, Rosalies, Rosies, and Noras in every single classroom and extracurricular.

I suggest asking yourselves this question: “Which name do we LIKE BEST?” Pretend for a moment that popularity is not an issue. Pretend it doesn’t matter if your daughter occasionally encounters another child with the same name, or if her name is occasionally confused with another name, or if other people think the name you chose is popular or trendy. When your minds are as clear as you can get them, think: “If we could use any name we wanted, which one would it be?”

The thing is, you CAN use any name you want. You can use the name you like BEST. And if other people also like that name, that’s happy! If other people think the name is trendy—well, I agree that’s annoying. But if you’d used a different name, other people might think the name was weird, or boring, or trying too hard, or silly, or any number of other things people think about names.


Baby Naming Issue: Older Sibling Wants One Name, Parents Want Another

Hi Swistle!

I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since discovering it early this
pregnancy, and I could really use your help on our current baby name
situation. Baby boy is due in February, and we thought we had decided
on the name Wesley Oliver. (Oliver was my grandfather’s middle name.)
Our first son, now 2 1/2 years old, is Henry Owen. Last name for the
boys is my name and husband’s name combined, no hyphen — H@ffman

I still really like the name Wesley, but it just doesn’t feel like
Wesley is this baby’s name. And I can’t get the name Arlo out of my
mind. My husband originally did not like Arlo, but lately he’s been
open to it, so I think it’s likely that we could agree on it. I love
that it’s short and sweet (especially with the long last name), and I
can imagine it being a great name as a child and an adult. And I
think that Arlo sounds great with Henry, perhaps in a way that Wesley
does not?

One potential problem is that my son loves the name Wesley. Every
time we ask if he likes another name, he replies, very
matter-of-factly, “No, Henry likes Wes-wee.” We had been talking for
awhile as though that were baby’s name, and it seems he’s very
attached to it. Of course, we’re not going to let our 2 year old name
the baby, but I at least want to be respectful of his opinion.
(Especially since there will undoubtedly be big emotions around having
a new brother, even without any naming complications.)

I also wonder about the middle name — does Arlo Oliver flow together
a little too much? I think I like it, but I can see how the two names
could be too similar with the “LO” ending and the “OL” beginning. I’d
like to stick with Oliver as a middle name if we could.

We both also really like the name Liam, but we’re concerned with how
popular it has become. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it is a
concern. Other names we’ve considered include Elliot and Noah.
(We’ve never had a very long list.)

With Henry, I just KNEW his name was Henry months before his birth.
And it’s really the perfect name for him. I feel a little lost
without the certainty that I felt last time — it seems my baby name
intuition has dulled in these intervening sleep-deprived years. :)

I would really appreciate your thoughts.


Hi again, Swistle.

I wrote to you a few days ago asking for help with our baby naming
dilemmas. I just had to write to share an amusing
update with you.

My son Henry — who loves the name Wesley, and who I’m concerned about
disappointing should we choose another name — decided this morning
that his stuffed woolly mammoth’s name is “Wesley.” I wonder — does
this mean we’re off the hook, so to speak, for considering how much he
likes the name when deciding on his baby brother’s name? We certainly
can’t have two Wesleys in the house, can we? :)



My intention was to answer this with a paragraph or two about how I can identify with wanting to use the name the 2-year-old wants, because it is beyond cute when a sibling takes an interest in the new baby; but that in my own experience (Robert wanted to name William “Plum,” and was very serious and intense about it), the 2-year-old won’t remember any of this and it’s safe to go with the name you want—perhaps using his choice as a special nickname.

But the turn things have taken is so excellent, I now want to post this as an idea for other parents facing the same situation: in this case it was accidental, but I wish I’d thought of it when Rob wanted to use the name Plum. Some children will not be diverted and will still insist that no, the name is for the new baby; but others may very well fall for it.

I think both Wesley and Arlo work nicely with the name Henry. I think Arlo Oliver works just fine: I see what you mean about the -lo and Ol-, but I agree that other considerations outrank that one. (Or perhaps your grandfather’s first name would be a better fit?) Do you find you call Henry “Henry Owen”? Some families do use first and middle names together, but many use the middle name only for paperwork.

Liam and Arlo make me wonder if you’d like Leo or Milo.

Baby Girl Menyay, Sister to River Mary

Hi Swistle!

We recently found out that we will be expecting our second girl in May. We are thrilled but super stuck/confused with how to proceed with naming.

Our 2 year old is named River (middle Mary). We love the name and how it sounds. The name has special significance and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t mind the questions or comments regarding her name ie “why River?”, “I know boys named River.” or “Hippies!”.

What we love about River is the strong, surname sound, not so much the ‘nature’ meaning. We would love an equally strong, uncommon name for her sister.

We are huge fans of honor middle names. River’s middle name is after my paternal Grandmother. Our second we’d love a combination of Sadie and June, after our other Grandmothers. Both of these names we feel too soft for first names though. Our last name sounds like “Men-Yay”.

Our name list now includes names like Greta, Rose (Rosie), Laine, Juno and Maeve, though none of them have stood out nor do they feel like they suit our family or match River’s name perfectly.

We would love another opinion and any suggestions! Please help!

Thank you!