Hi Swistle! I recently discovered your blog and I really enjoy reading your responses to baby name questions. I’m hoping you’ll have a little advice for me, too.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of naming my own children more than most girls dream of a fairytale wedding. You would think that means I’ve had the names decided for years, but that’s not the case at all. Now that I am expecting my first child- a girl due June 14th- I’m finding the task to be incredibly daunting.
We decided on her middle name right away. It will be Blake, which is my husband’s first name. Our last name starts with an E and is opposite of the cardinal direction “west”. We agree that we want her first name to be more feminine, and that it doesn’t need to honor any other family members’ names. It can be uniquely her own.
The problem is I’ve put so much pressure on myself to find the “perfect” first name, and the perfect name simply doesn’t exist. I even went as far as to download the Social Security Database of every baby girl’s name in 2015 (the latest available data at the time) and used an Excel spreadsheet to eliminate names we knew we wouldn’t use. That process took months and eventually we gave up on that route.
At this point we’ve seen almost every name imaginable, and looked at them for so long that we aren’t in love with any of them- even the ones we have at the top of our list. We currently have a top three, although I’m not real sure how we got there other than these three keep coming up in our conversations:
Eiley – I feel like I could potentially be excited about this one, but I’m most worried about common mispronunciation. I’ve also heard it’s a nickname for Eileen, and I’m not a fan of the name Eileen.
Skylie – Or Skyler and have the option of calling her Skylie or Kyler.
Harper – A “safe” name, however maybe TOO safe. It’s the #4 most popular name in our state and I worry the phrase “Harper who? Which one?” would be a daily occurrence in her school years.
Other names we have recently marked off the list but might could be talked in to again- Trinity, Kensington, Mercy, Decklyn, Briley, Everly, Harlyn, Maylee.
Since you have already looked at all the names and you don’t like any of them enough to use them, this is not the kind of post where I make a list of names you haven’t considered and you say “Oh, whew, yes!” Instead, we are going to talk more generally about how to pick a name when nothing seems like the clearly right choice.
1. Instead of looking for a name, look for a STYLE. Once you figure out the TYPE of name you like, you can be reasonably sure that any name you like from that category will be satisfying to you in the long run and will work with future sibling names. Your style looks to me like what The Baby Name Wizard calls Bell Tones. I also see some Last Names First, some Androgynous, and some Charms & Graces—but the Bell Tones stand out. This is good news: it tells us that your choices are fairly consistent, and so you are likely to pick a name that you will like long-term and that will go well with future choices.
2. Don’t look for perfect: look for a good solid useful choice. It can seem to parents as if there is One Perfect Name out there, and that their job as parents is to find that shining grail. But in most cases, there is no One Perfect Name, there are just a lot of perfectly good names that would all work perfectly well. Your quest isn’t to find the universe’s preordained name choice for your child; your job is to give her a sensible identifier that she and others can use to refer to her. You need to find a name to put on the school-registration paperwork, and for her to write on her homework, and for everyone to write on gift tags. You can pick something that Works, without having to find Magic. The magic comes with time, as the name comes to represent the child to you.
3. Realize that every name is not just a name but a Package Deal. Some names come with spelling or pronunciation problems; some may feel boring or overly common; some are trendy or may get much more popular in the near future; some are easily mistaken for other names; some are awkward with the surname; and so on. Finding an issue with a name doesn’t mean that name has to be ruled out, because every name has issues; it only means you have to decide if the issue is one you’re okay with.
4. If having the middle name chosen before the first name is causing you any trouble, I suggest scrapping it for now and considering it again only once you have a first name chosen. When you’re already having such a hard time, there’s no sense making it harder.
5. Take a break. It sounds as if you’ve been doing this intensively for quite a while. I’d recommend taking a short period of time—say, one week—when you don’t talk about names at all, and try not to think about them.
6. Try them out. Once the break is over, take each of your finalists and give it its own day. For that day, refer to the baby by that name and think of her by that name. Does it feel like it works? Does it feel like the name of Your Baby? See which ones feel most comfortable. Are there any that you were sorry to stop using? Any that you were looking forward to being done using?
Let’s turn to the names themselves. I notice that you like the rhyming names Eiley, Skylie, Briley, and the similar-sounding Maylee and Everly. You’ve also got Decklyn and Harlyn. So if I were you, I would be looking pretty specifically at names containing -iley/-ylie and names ending with -ly/lie/lee and -lyn.
When putting names together, make sure you try out the first name and surname without the middle name between them, since that’s the way most people will be hearing them: -ley Ee– is a lot of long-E. (But again, consider the Package Deal concept: this is not necessarily a deal-breaking issue, just one to consider ahead of time.)
I also suggest, as The Baby Name Wizard does in the Bell Tones category, playing around with name parts and endings. If you like Skylie, maybe you’d like Skyler, as you mention, or Skylin or Kylie or Kinsley. If you like Briley, maybe you’d like Brilyn or Braelyn or Brinley or Briella. If you like Maylee, maybe you’d like Maelyn or Mylie. If you like Everly, maybe you’d like Ellery or Emery or Ellisyn or Evanie.
I wonder if you would like Isla with the nickname pronounced Eiley? (I’m not sure how I’d spell it. Isly? Ily? You could see what evolves naturally.) It breaks the connection to Eileen (though I wouldn’t have jumped to that), and may help with pronunciation.
Decklyn makes me think of Locklyn.
Locklyn makes me think of Linnea.
Harper makes me think of Juniper, a much less common choice with the darling nickname Junie.
Delaney comes to mind for no particular reason; I just wonder if you would like it. Cute nicknames Del and Lanie.
I wonder if instead of using Blake as her middle name, you’d like the idea of using Blakeley or Blakelyn or Blakelind—either as middle or first. I like how the second two could be seen as a combination of your husband’s name and yours. Lakelin would also be nice for this.