11 May 2012

"Baby name regret" is on the rise

Psychologists are finding that more choices often lead to more paralysis and regret, and baby names seem to be no exception. "There isn't hard data, partially because I don't know of any accessible data on name changes," said baby-name expert Laura Wattenberg. "But as a percentage of my mail … remorse from parents who have already chosen names is rising."

According to Wattenberg, it took a list of six names to cover half of the population of children born in England in 1800 (U.S. Social Security Administration records don't begin until 1880). By 1950 in the United States, that number was up to 79. Today, it takes 546 names to cover half of the population of U.S. babies...

"I think we're all a little too scared about changing an infant's name," she said. Very young babies get called by a variety of nicknames anyway, she pointed out, and they're unlikely to care or notice a name switch early on.

But the best bet may be heading off name remorse before birth. 'The chances that you need to look beyond the 25,000 best names is very slim," Wattenberg said, adding that after a certain point, baby name books are just throwing in "the dregs."
Further details and relevant links at Live Science.

Photo credit:  This photo has circulated for years on the 'net, typically uncredited, and I've never been able to trace its source - until yesterday, when I backtracked it to a portfolio by Elliott Erwitt (via First Time User)


  1. My original birth certificate says "Baby Girl" instead of my name. My parents couldn't decide what to call me, but had to register my birth. My official name was registered a month later and was handwritten into a form on the back of the birth certificate, which was then notarized.

  2. Our daughter is only Eleanor when she's being told off - the rest of the time she's Pip. Her first day at school she asked the head to call her Pip - it even has it on her school books - though not her exam papers.

    Most people think it's short for Philippa or something but it just got picked up as part of a conversation when she was tiny and stuck.

    You are what you call yourself. I've known two Sydneys both of whom used their middle names instead. So few people knew my wife's real name when we married that a close friend had several calls from other friends asking who I was marrying because they didn't recognise the name on the invites.

  3. My child's name likely isn't on the top 25,000 names (Aeris, from Final Fantasy VII, but also due to Eris, the Greek goddess and micro planet). But we love it. And always will. We thought very hard and very long about which name to pick, and we stuck with our very first choice. My mother hates it though. So we gave her an extremely traditional middle name and if she wants to be called that later, then so be it.

    1. Someday young men will be tantalized to meet a young woman who is an "heiress."

    2. Eris was a Greek goddess, sure, but of what? Discord! What a name to give your child!

    3. I've a friend who thought Chlamydia was a nice sounding name for a girl. Just as well she had a boy.

  4. There is a blog out there (not mine!) called Things Bogans Like which has a running thread on weird things that people name their kids. I enjoy reading the observations and comments from people on the topic.

  5. Or the splendidly sarcastic http://notwithoutmyhandbag.com/blog/category/badbabynames/

  6. So, what were the six names? I'll guess:


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