How to Choose Baby's Name

December 04, 2020 3 min read

One long lasting choice we make as parents is our baby's name (unless they dislike it enough to go through the legal trouble of changing it). Some of us know before baby arrives, hooked on family traditions, or having fallen in love with a name years ago. Or maybe you find your old stash of wooden alphabet letter blocks and rearrange them for hours. For most of us, we mull it over, ponder, stew, then argue, and in a purely hormonal smack-down, we try to destroy the other's hopes and dreams of carrying on the fourth generation name. (What, just me?!)

To avoid tears and to let all voices be heard at our house, we've used the same method three times now, for 2 kids and a dog. The Tournament of Names. (Pretty official sounding, right?!) Here’s how we chose the names for our family.

rules to play

Notebook for Baby Names

First, we brainstorm a list of potential candidates. Dig in baby name books, peruse celebrity lists online, scour magazines, think about your ancient relatives, check the top names on the social security website for the year you were born, whatever your cup of tea. Look up meanings if you need to, until you each have about 15 baby names.

The next day, re-read your own list and make any final adjustments after having slept on it. A clear head now will save you from unnecessarily pushing a long shot later. As unbiasedly as you can, read your list one-by-one to the other person. The ultimate goal here is to combine your lists and whittle the choices down to the top 12.

  • Rule #1: Each participant is required to calmly, repeat, CALMLY, fight for their top names, or risk their selections being ousted entirely.
  • Rule #2: Play fair, meaning each person gets to enter roughly the same number of picks.
  • Rule #3: No cheating. Removing names while the other is distracted or taking a catnap is a big no-no; subject to a penalty of the other party's choosing if you're caught
  • Rule #4: Each person gets one veto, so use it wisely. Personally, I prefer the sneak attack (evil laugh mwahaha). If you're patient, most of the names you're not a fan of will work themselves out of the bracket, letting you save the veto for something you never in a million years would ever dream of calling your precious baby.

Once the list has been narrowed, and make-up smooches have been given to smooth things over, monikers are then neatly written on little slips of paper and placed in a jar for safe keeping.

let the games begin

Expecting parents holding baby shoes

The tourney begins with the random selection of one name. Use it every chance you can for up to one week, or until you can't stand it anymore - in conversation, in texts, write it out, hear it, see it, breathe it, live with it. Like 'little Baxter is the size of a walnut today,' 'Lady Gwennie needs more chocolate,' or ‘mister Deogie is doing jumping jacks.’ (True story there, Mr. B insisted on Deogie in our bracket. Thankfully my veto was still in play. Seriously.)

Then decide together whether the name is strong enough to move to Round 2 or if it's going to the loser's bracket. Continue randomly selecting a name and doing try-outs until you make it through the first round. Begin Round 2 the same way, with names moving on, or hitting the trash can. The tournament ends when you agree upon one name, or if you're a parent who 'needs to see the baby,' the options you're left with feel right.

set it in stone (or wood)

Custom gray stained wooden alphabet blocks for Ruby

If you're like me, you start personalizing everything before the hubs has a chance to noodle it too long - no going back once we spend time and moola on something. We put names on milestone blocks, customized wooden letter blocks and used them as our baby shower centerpiece, added initials on nursery walls. Practically set it in stone, my friends. Not once have we said, 'ya know, I think he should have been a Casper.' But it's been four years since the tournament for our youngest, and it's still the only word written in poor Cha-Cha's baby book.

We hope you give the tournament a try and wind up with a baby name you both adore, and when you're ready, let us make little alphabet blocks for you.

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