Baby Boy Ch@nn, Brother to Riley

Hi Swistle,

I wrote to you back in January 2015. I was worried that our name choice for our daughter (Riley) would not age well. Thankfully, you and others assuaged my fears and Riley Ch@nn was born in February 2015.

We’re expecting a baby boy in April 2018 and we’re stuck on a name for him. My husband really likes the name “Ryder” because he thinks it would match Riley very well. I am hesitant because Riley and Ryder seem to match too much! Would you and others consider the names too similar and cutesy for siblings?

Other names that we’ve liked but have somewhat dismissed:
Dylan – it sounds like something bad in Cantonese (we are Chinese)
Casey – brings to mind Casey Anthony, and we have a Caylee in our family
Names we like but can’t use because close friends have used them: Tyler, Logan, Zachary, Avery

Any other suggestions?

Thank you!
Mom to Riley and TBD


The names Riley and Ryder are so similar, using them for siblings would be a dramatic and highly noticeable thing to do. And if you have any chance at all of having a third child someday, I absolutely would not give yourselves that future naming problem—though I suppose there’s still Rylan available.

I wonder if thinking about other matchy pairings would help your husband see the issue? Like Casey and Caylee from your example above: if it’s too close for cousins and other relatives, it’s even closer for siblings. Or Madison and Madilyn. Brady and Braden. Carter and Carson. Emerson and Emory. Finley and Finian. Harley and Harper. McKinley and Mackenzie. Or maybe those will all sound good to him: some parents like sibling groups such as Emma and Ella or Jayden and Caden, and some parents like names such as John Johnson or William Williamson, so it really is a matter of personal preference and he might just like very matched sibling sets. My own opinion is that it makes it very, very difficult for other people to keep the names straight; helping other people tell the kids apart is not the number-one priority of baby-naming, but it’s something to consider.

The situation is made even more complicated by Riley being a unisex name. In fact, I’d need to remove my examples such as Madison and Madilyn: that pairing is confusing, but it’s not as confusing as Casey and Caylee, or Carter and Carson, or Emerson and Emory, or Harley and Harper.

I started to look for more options to consider, and realized we could take a few right from the list of sample pairings. Plus I’ll add a few more.


Ranger is my Compromise Option: it’s similar in style/mood/sound to Ryder, but I don’t think the pairing with Riley is startling or confusing. Finley and Wesley are also potential compromises: they match the endings of the names rather than the beginnings.

22 thoughts on “Baby Boy Ch@nn, Brother to Riley

  1. Nathalia

    If you are hesitant about the Ryder-Riley pairing, it may have to be taken off the table. Naming with a partner often means that we have to eliminate our favorite names if our significant other can’t get on board. I can understand how your husband feels – It makes sense to like a name that sounds similar to an older sibling, because those sounds are attached to a loved child. Striking out into different territory can feel a little… foreign? Just know that the new name will be as familiar and loved when it is attached to a real human. For me, Riley and Ryder would be too similar for siblings, but what matters is how the 2 of you feel. I like many of the suggestions above, especially Spencer, Carson, Brody, and Sawyer. What about Owen? Harris or Harrison? Quentin? Congratulations and good luck!

    1. Elisabeth

      Seconding the having to leave favored names on the table. My husband and I actually share one, Robin, but only for one gender. He likes it for girls and I like it for boys, so it got tabled.

  2. BKB

    This post reminded me of generation names ( I know a Korean-American family that named their children following this tradition, with two “American”-sounding names that ended with the same syllable. I always liked the story of how they got their matching names.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Riley and Ryder are similar enough to be confusing, but if you’re going to have more children, and feel like you would need to match the pattern, you won’t have a lot of choices left…

  3. Steph Lovelady

    I looked at the post from when you were naming Riley and I saw Quinn and Skyler were on your list. I think Quinn (or Quincy) or Schuyler could work for a boy, too. Or how about Griffin? Riley & Griffin. Griffin Ch@nn.

  4. Jacoba

    Perhaps it would help to remind your husband that he’s naming his son, not naming his daughter’s brother. Sure, it can nice when siblings’ names go together — or at least don’t clash — but “goes with Riley” can’t be his only criterion for liking a name, right? For the majority of his life and to the majority of people, he’s going to be his own person out in the world and he deserves to get his parents’ favourite name, not one that was chosen because it matches his sister’s. What boy names would your husband like if he were naming his first child?

    The only pro/con I can think of for Ryder, depending on your perspective, is that when he cries out you can declare, “Ryder needs us!” (Paw Patrol, anyone? I can’t be the only one for whom that name has been co-opted by pups.)

  5. Bee

    Do you ever call Riley “Ri” as a nickname? If so, that might get really confusing. I think I would find Riley and Ryder to be too close, but there are a lot of great options on Swistle’s list! I like Parker, Carson, or Sawyer for you!

  6. Stephanie

    Riley and Ryder together read VERY CUTESY to me. But if you like cutesy or if you like each name well enough to not care about that factor, there’s nothing wrong with those two names together.

    Another option that you might like more and that your husband may also find pleasing together would be to use the same first initial without using the same first syllable.

  7. A

    I think Riley and Ryder are too similar for siblings, especially because the both start with the Ry- sound. If you want a name that matches with Riley then I would suggest Rowan. It starts with R like Riley but the different vowel sound stops it from being TOO matchy. It’s also unisex and Celtic in origin just like Riley. Rory also fits this equation. Riley and Rowan or Riley and Rory sound like they go together where as Riley and Ryder sound almost like replicas of one another.

    Other ways to match with Riley:
    Find another name with Irish/Celtic roots

    Find a name that has a similar ending

    Find a name that starts with R but is followed by a different vowel sound than Ry-

    Find another unisex name

    I personally think that Riley and Zachary sound great together. They both sound youthful yet established, similar but not too matchy. Riley and Zack sound like siblings. I also like Riley and Nolan together as well. They don’t seem to have much in common by sound alone but their Irish roots pair them together as a great sib set in my opinion. Riley and Nolan. Riley and Liam is also a nice pairing.

  8. Ashley

    I do think Riley and Ryder are too close. Ryder also makes me think of Paw Patrol. That show is extremely popular with kids and doesn’t seem like it is going to lose steam any time soon. It might be irritating to have a name so strongly associated with a TV show.

    Dylan made me think of Devin/Deven. It’s also unisex and I think Riley and Devin work together without being match-y. I don’t speak Cantonese, so I don’t know if it is still too close to the word with a bad meaning.

  9. Christi with an I

    I have a friend with 4 kids who’s names all start with Ka,- Kaela, Kaden, Kamber and Kai. It’s what they liked so if you want Riley and Ryder I think it’s fine. There are other names out there that sound similar if you have more kids and want to make it a pattern. But if you don’t like it it sound like your husband might action names, Ryder, Archer, Fletcher, Chase, Jett, Trip, Foster

  10. Jean C.

    It’s too close for me personally. I love Swistle’s suggestion of Sawyer, and reader suggestions of Owen and Griffin. I think maybe Paxton could work as well. Good luck!

  11. Kim C

    Riley and Ryder sound way too close for siblings names to me but I know that others may like them together for that exact reason.

    Brody, Spencer, Nolan and Wesley are my favorites from all the suggestions. Rowan is a good one too!

    I especially like Riley and Brody together!

    What about Beckett, Sterling or Dallas? Riley and River perhaps?

    All the best!

  12. leah

    I think Leo or Simon would be great options; both sound nice with Riley and with your surname; very versatile! Best wishes!

  13. Maree

    My boys have names that some would consider too similar. I figure this is a childhood problem and once they are old it won’t matter at all (can you name your workmate’s siblings?). Having said that we chose our favourite name each time and then they happened to be similar rather than the other way around. I think if Riley and Ryder is too similar is up to you – will it be confusing for non-english speaking relatives (if there are any)? That might be another factor.

    What about Roy? I like Riley and Roy and think the different vowel sound differentiates the name. Depending on language source Roy means either Red (Gaelic) or King (French).

  14. renchickadee

    Wilder would give you the surname feel and long “i” plus “l” sound in Riley with the -der of Ryder without sounding too close to Riley. Also a more adventurous-sounding name if that’s the vibe you wanted.

  15. Caroline

    I happen to know of a sibling group Ryan/Reilly/Ryder and I think they are way too similar. It’s definitley a matter of taste, but they all start with the same first syllable. I’d say it’s a no to Ryder.


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