Wait to see to name?

Alrighty, another burning question on my mind: Do you wait until you see your baby to bestow a name, or do you decide ahead of time? Why or why not?

I know of people who narrow their choices down to two or three and wait until they see the baby to decide which of the names fits the baby the best (or throw them all out upon seeing the baby and start afresh because none on the list seem to suit the baby). And then there is everyone else who decides on a name and that’s the name (or, if they change their minds, it’s for some other reason than “It didn’t suit the baby”). (We’re the latter.)


39 thoughts on “Wait to see to name?

  1. It kind of boggles my mind when people say, “He didn’t look like a James” (or whatever name). I think no babies look like anything other than babies. Honestly, most babies look pretty much the same to me! We’ve only named one baby so far, so maybe I just haven’t experienced that yet, but I think we’re the “choose a name and stick with it” type. But since we carry over names too, the names seem to have very little to do with the individual child anyway, but more with our personal preferences.

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  2. I’m also firmly in the camp of having the baby’s name decided before the big day. I’m an emotional and hormonal mess in the days following labor and delivery with even less weighty decisions leaving me stressed out. On a practical level, when my son James was delivered his heart rate tanked as he made his way through the birth canal and the only thing running across my mind was “St. James intercede for us.”

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  3. We decide ahead of time. We’ve never peeked, so always walked in with our girl name and our boy name. My husband believes it is a crime to not have a name ready to go. I think he is more understanding if you “have three and want to see baby first” but he finds that an excuse, to a degree, and says there is already that one name you are leaning toward, so why not just go with it.. It is a constant thing having to remind him not everyone is us! lol – he always goes back to the “crime” argument, especialy when the parents know the sex of the baby. He says it is our moral duty and honor and there is no reason to not have a name ready to be given at delivery because we [as parents] have had 9 months to figure it out.
    For me, I have OCD and I want my child to have a name because I love the honor of doing it and the process in which the name is chosen. When baby comes out and is named, it is as though I have known them always as that, even though it was possible they were the opposite sex with a different name that would have worked equally as well. Does that make sense??? haha!

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  4. I agree with Mandi – seeing my children for the first time wouldn’t have helped me narrow down a name at all! Maybe if I could wait until they were six months or so … but I could never wait that long, so … nope, we have the name all set when we walk in the door.

    But I *do* know families who have completely changed their minds in the hours or days after their child was born, so never say never!

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  5. We choose the names beforehand, but we usually have at least one “back-up” name just in case. We’ve never had to use them, though. Usually the name we have chosen seems to fit the baby perfectly!

    We did have one instance where we couldn’t quite decide on a middle name, so we left the discussion until after baby was born (because it’d be moot if we had a girl instead of a boy). Well, we had a boy, and we ended up letting my mother (who was there for the birth) decide on his middle name between the two choices we had.

    I was actually one of those babies for whom the chosen name “didn’t fit.” My parents had originally chosen “Rhende” (pronounced like Wendy with an R) after my mother’s best friend in college. However, when I was born I “didn’t look like a Rhende” so they decided to name me after my uncle Joel and my great-grandmother Anna instead.

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  6. We’ve only had one child to name so far, but I could totally see us becoming “wait and see”-ers. I’m obsessed with names so it’s not like I’ll ever draw a blank, and with our first daughter “her” name hadn’t been on our list at all until two weeks before she was born…and suddenly it just captured both our imaginations. I feel like God guided the process. And I’m really glad He did, because the front runner name we’d chosen previously would have been a lifelong spelling and pronunciation pain. 😉 I do have a very firm, longtime favorite boy’s name, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if that ends up being used!

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  7. Ha! This is so interesting to me right now. I am being induced on Monday. Baby #8, and we have had the hardest time ever picking a name this time. Three weeks ago, we picked one and even shook hands on it. Now we aren’t so sure!! Today at the doctors office I met another momma being induced the day after me, having a boy also, and asked her if she had a name picked. She had chosen our #2 choice – and the one we keep going back to. It’s not even a popular name at all, so we are taking this as a sign to use the #2 name, but won’t make a final decision until we see him on Monday. Middle name is 50/50, and will depend on him as well. We’ve always had the name chosen at delivery before now, changing our minds only once immediately after delivery with the middle name. This time has been so hard!!

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  8. For our fourth, we had Caleb Michael Joseph (remember, all of put boys have Joseph for their third name), but I kept coming back to Joseph for the first name. I really really felt like the insistent thought was St. Joseph or his Guardian Angel, but my husband still liked Caleb and I agreed. When the baby was born, my first thought was, “That’s not Caleb, it’s Joseph.” My husband said (without me saying anything), “That’s Joseph, isn’t it?” Yup, Joseph Wayne Michael!

    I was supposed to be Laura Elizabeth, but my parents had a similar moment, seeing me and just KNOWING. I was Theresa Anne, my sister was named Laura Elizabeth. It’s not really what the baby looks like, it’s really a deep seated clarity.

    I think it would be quite terrible to leave a baby nameless for more than a couple of days. Babies recognize their name so early and it is closely tied to their identy. I don’t think it would be healthy to change that! But really, it’s just my opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking about this in the shower this morning, how maybe it’s not really that parents wait and see what the baby looks like (though maybe that’s how they articulate what’s going on inside them), but they wait for the nudge from the Holy Spirit about what *the* name for the baby is meant to be (even if they don’t know that it’s the Holy Spirit they’re waiting for). I like how you put it Theresa, a “deep seated clarity.”

      Twice we’ve had names picked out and decided on — Oliver Joseph for one, Augustin Francis for another — and late in my pregnancy (6 mos and 8 mos respectively) it all of a sudden hit my husband and I (simultaneously yet independently) that those were just not the names.


      • That’s a beautiful way to put it! Throughout the year name-collecting is a hobby for me, but when actually pregnant there is a definite switch to a discernment process.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. We “choose” (ie. discern) a boy name combo and a girl name (which has always been a carry-over), usually by the end of 1st trimester. But we wait to see the baby to announce or finalize. A few times we have waited until the next day just to be sure.

    Our longest wait was our son Abel Bennett. We felt sure that was his name almost from the positive pregnancy test, but on his birth day we were still unsure because we didn’t think either name was a saint (maybe this should be in the Old Testament Names post?), and we thought Abel might be too “out there.” But we went with it, and soon discovered that Bennett is a form of Benedict (who is such an amazing saint), and Abel was an Irish saint and Benedictine abbot. Also, Abel leapt up the charts that year, and has continued to do so. God was right. 😉

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  10. I love the focus on a discernment process. In my family, it’s tradition to wait until the baby is born. 34 years ago, my mother unexpectedly gave birth to twins (I was the surprise Baby B). They had a girl name chose, but not TWO girl names chosen. It took them a week to name us. They ended up splitting the girl name they chose, and giving Baby A the first name and Baby B the middle name, and coming up with new middle names. But then, as they kept looking at us and interacting with us, they realized the names should be switched. I “looked” more like the Sarah. So that is how Baby B got the first name instead of the middle name (although, for the record, both names are equally loved). I don’t think they thought physically I looked like a Sarah.. we are identical twins, and it was almost impossible to tell us apart without keeping our toenails painted. But I think it was a discernment process in meeting us and seeing what names fit.

    My twin sister and I have “waited to see the baby” for all 6 of our combined children so far. We don’t even discuss names with our Dh’s until the 20-week ultrasound. Someone mentioned above how they love to “collect” names as a hobby, but when it comes to a real child, they switch modes. That is the same with me… I love to discuss and collect names, but when I am naming a specific child, my mindset and feelings can totally shift (plus, Dh needs to be included in that decision!). I can’t come up with two hypothetical names knowing one won’t be used. I just have to (ideally) know the sex, come up with options for THAT child, and then, once we are holding said child, finalize the name. It also has a side benefit of allowing Dh and I to honestly say, “We don’t have a name yet, so no, we’re not sharing :).” And it opens up fun name discussions with family.

    When DS was born, I was quite sure he was going to get the other name we had chosen, but Dh felt strongly he favored the other name we came in with (in that case, yes, physical looks did play some role as he shocked us with the most thick, black hair I’d ever seen on a newborn…. totally didn’t see that coming. I thought the nurse was humoring me when she said he had a lot of hair!). So yeah, something about his very distinctive features swayed Dh in the other direction.

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    • Nicely articulated Sarah! Your explanation possibly gave me the first tiny opening in my own thinking re: waiting to name.

      Also, I can’t believe your mom didn’t know she was having twins! I know that kind of thing happened long ago, but I wouldn’t have thought our parents’ generation would have experienced it!


  11. Oooh, I love the description of naming as a discernment process. That totally took me by surprise the first time around…but the message was loud and clear! It makes me excited for all the unlooked-for possibilities for future babies 🙂

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  12. I wouldn’t say we are a ‘wait and physically look at the child’ to see what name fits him/her but we definitely wait until late in the pregnancy/driving in the hospital to decide on a name. I mean, we always have one we are leaning towards but never ones ‘set in stone.’ Since I experienced a miscarriage, I feel it is important to call the baby by his/her name even in utero, so you think I would be more specific about having a set name since the positive pregnancy test. But I like seeing the baby grow, and feel ‘safer’ before declaring the name as ‘set in stone’ when the baby is physically on his/her way. For me personally, in my heart, I usually have a name I call the baby while he/she is in utero but that may/may not change when they are born. And I find my name tastes have changed in last 8 years since I was pregnant with my first, so names that were on ‘the list’ 8 years ago, may not be on the list now.

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  13. We don’t find out the baby’s sex and always wait until s/he is born to make our final pick for a name, first and middle! We’re expecting #7 and it’s getting harder to choose, but it’s easier to stick with our waiting!


      • Thank you! ♥ With the first few the lists were loooong — 10-20 names plus asterisks and underlines in my old baby name books from 1998. I’d say now that we’re fitting a name with a set, the lists are shorter. We’re considering 3 girl, 2 boy today. We have Elizabeth Chandler (Lily), Cole Jacob, Anne Eleanor (Annie), Blaise Robert, Urban Paul and Mary Margaret Rose so far. I have a lot of rules: no repeating first initials, must be a classic saint/pope name, must be pretty easy to tell if the child is a boy or a girl just by reading/hearing the name, must be fairly easily pronounced and spelled. My husband is Kris and Hollyce is my given name because my mom liked Hollis but didn’t want me to be Holli. Whew! Sorry for the tome!

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      • Do.not.apologize!! These are the kinds of details I love!! Gorgeous names on your current list, I love them all! Urban, wow, you don’t hear that too often! Great papal name! I don’t suppose you’d share your other kids’ names? 😉

        Also, what name books do you use?


  14. The names I listed are our current kids’ names, who will be 16, 14, 10, 8, 5, and 2 when baby arrives! I use Cool Names for Babies most often, really only looking at the Ancient Names, Holy Names, Colonial Names, and a smidge from other sections like Literary Names. I also have Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Beyond Shannon and Sean, Baby Names Now, 35,000+ Baby Names (Lansky), and From Aaron to Zoe (Richman). I use newadvent.org’s list of Popes and catholic.org’s Saints A to Z Index. Oh! I also have 2 digital name books: Baby Name Wizard and The Complete Christian Baby Name Book by Nicole M. McGinnis.

    I’d say for #7 boy we’re thinking Desmond, Dominic, Francis, James, Joseph, Paschal (but we both agree it’s probably too much with Blaise in spite of the different spelling), and Vincent, with Ignatius and Peregrine sort of half on the list. For girls we have Jane Frances, Jane Louise, Josephine, Juliette, Victoria with Nadia, Natasha on the side? Maybe Rose something? Both of us feel like there’s still something out there and as was shared by another commenter, we have not had something on the list and had it just come right to the surface late in the game — Blaise is the clearest example! It’s in the Baby Name books I mentioned and I never even noticed it at all until we were expecting Blaise. When we had him we were probably considering Harris and Blaise and we both looked at each other and I can’t remember who said it first, but, “He’s a Blaise, isn’t he?”

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    • Thanks also for your list of books! I’m always on the lookout for good name books. Some of the ones you mentioned I’ve never heard of. Also great idea to check out New Advent and catholic.org.


  15. Thank you! I was linked to your blog from a Nov-Dec 2015 due date Catholic group on Facebook and I hadn’t heard of you before! I was equally excited to discover your list of sites on the sidebar 🙂 Nicole McGinnis is a very traditional Catholic and that book has some great names and variations…a good reminder to me to take a peek to see if that would contain whatever possibilities are eluding us.

    Another interesting point is that if one continues to grow a family and there are even just an average of 33.33333333 months between kids, the older ones end up with PLENTY of opinions on names and very strong associations. We share our baby news with them much sooner than anyone else, and always keep the dialogue open though make it clear Mom and Dad have the final say. One older child did say, “If you pick that name, fine. I just won’t call him/her that” and Lily told us we never should have used Rose as Mary Margaret’s middle name because it would be a perfect first name for Baby #7 whom she is certain is a sister!

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    • I have Nicole’s book, it’s a great resource!

      I got a taste of that when we were expecting our youngest — our oldest was 8 and he definitely had opinions! To this day he’s not quite sure of what we finally ended up with (and the baby’s 14 mos) but like you said, Mom and Dad have final say! It’s also interesting since we have all boys, to hear what boys think another boy should (and should not!) be named.


  16. I wish I could edit instead of making the list longer! I meant to say we share our baby news with them and keep the dialogue open, but we are VERY cautious about sharing anything with family, friends or acquaintances to avoid feedback that would spoil our happiness or a name we love. (I’m sorry to say even some close family completely disapproves of our family size and is very direct about voicing disapproval)

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