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When You Can’t Agree on a Baby Name


Choosing a name for a baby is a Big Deal. What makes for a good name is very subjective and depends on personal taste and life experience. It’s no surprise that many couples have trouble agreeing on a baby name.

Fortunately, there are some easy guidelines to follow that will help you get past your impasse. Here are our 10 simple rules for working out a baby name compromise.

1. Listen

As with any other disagreement, it is very important to listen to your partner and take time to understand where he or she is coming from. Pregnancy can be an emotional, tense time, so this advice becomes doubly important. Hear the other person out, without interrupting. Don’t think of this as a negotiation so much as two people on the same team trying to overcome the same challenge.

2. Both Partners Share Names

One thing I strongly recommend is that both partners participate in creating baby name lists of names they like. When both people are actively engaged in the name search it will at least double your chances of finding the right name.

Keep in mind that one person may not be ready for this discussion yet. If you are at an early stage (not expecting yet or in the first trimester), you may want to wait until both of you are ready. Forcing the discussion before one partner is ready to have it will make it difficult to come to a good conclusion.

3. Discover and Communicate Your Baby Naming Goals

What are you trying to accomplish with this name? Are you trying to honor a specific relative? Are you looking for a traditional name? A creative one? Are you trying to avoid a name that’s too common? Both of you should discern your own motives as best as you can and put all the cards on the table. Once your naming goals are understood you will have a much better chance of finding a name that meets them.

4. Both Partners Have a Veto

It is unfair for either of you to expect the other to have their child named something that they absolutely hate. The name should be one that both of you can live with at the very least. Exes and school bullies and difficult coworkers might disqualify otherwise great names. That’s okay. There are plenty of great names to choose from.

5. No Third Seat at the Table

You and your partner are the ones who decide on the baby’s name. End of story. Parents and friends and siblings are great, but they should not be a part of this process. It’s tough enough to get two people to agree on a name! Many couples even keep their decision private until the baby is born to prevent unsolicited advice or pressure.

6. Rank Each Other’s Lists

Working off of lists is a great way to find common ground. Create your name lists. Trade them. Next, each partner should rank the other’s list from best to worst. You may not like any name on the other person’s list, but pick the least terrible one for #1, and work down from there. Share the results

Names near the top of each list might indicate a good direction for compromise. Use a baby names web site like to look for similar names and try to build out your name lists with new candidates.

It can be really difficult, but try to give your partner’s names real consideration when you are swapping lists. It’s easy to reject names that you didn’t already have in mind. Check that impulse and give the new ideas a chance to win you over. Taking some time, maybe even a day, before swapping the lists back might give an unlikely name a chance to grow on you - or for your partner to warm up to one of your ideas.

7. The Goal is Win-Win

Try to find the name compromise that generates the highest combined happiness for you as a couple. Make sure that each person considers the name to be at least a decent choice. If you can’t even clear that bar, keep looking. Get creative and try to find that win-win solution. And keep your partner’s happiness in mind, too, not just your own! One of your goals should be to make him or her satisfied with the final decision.

8. Middle Names Can Help Bridge the Gap

Some of the goals you are looking to accomplish for the baby name might be met in the middle name. Middle names are great for honoring relatives, choosing a great but too-common name, or bestowing the dream name of one partner that the other partner would veto as a first name. Get creative with the middle name to make the total package more appealing.

9. Will You Be Doing This Again?

Are you planning on having more children after this one? If one partner compromises more for this name, it can be with the understanding that a particular name that they like will be the choice for the next boy or girl. Or you can decide that the partner who compromised less this time will compromise more next time. This can be a great way to balance an otherwise lopsided compromise.

10. Use Technology

There is a plethora of great baby name web sites out there. Use them. Our site, Baby Namester, has a Baby Name Compromise Tool that will help walk you through this process and suggest names that both you and your partner might like. We developed this tool specifically for people in your situation, so give it a try!

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