Dealing with baby name regret

baby name
baby name Photo: Getty Images

Whether you make your birth announcement via text message, social media or good old fashioned phone calls, for many of us, telling the world the name of our new baby makes it seem official. So what happens when parents have a change of heart about the name they’ve chosen for their baby?

British boxer Amir Khan and his wife Faryal were in this slightly awkward situation this week, first welcoming baby Lamysa, then changing it to Lamysah, before eventually settling on Lamaisah.

After the initial announcement welcoming baby Lamysa, Amir tweeted: "Decided to call our baby LAMYSAH not LAMYSA. It sounds the same but we added the H at the end of it as Islamically it's the right spelling."

He later added that “Lamysah means soft and gentle", but the following day there was another change.

“Sorry guys,” Faryal tweeted, “everyone is having difficulties pronouncing baby's name. We have decided to change the spelling to Lamaisah – correct pronunciation.”

While the spelling changes may have been confusing for friends and family, they were made swiftly, and baby Lamaisah will have no memory of the vetoed names.

Although in this case the changes were minor, other parents have changed their baby’s name entirely.

Zanni Arnot, a mother of two, did just that, changing her youngest daughter’s name from Eve to Rosie when she was 14 months old.

“My husband is Dutch, and Eve didn’t translate well. He started calling her Rosie as he has better affinity with that name and it made him feel closer to her,” Zanni explains.

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Zanni also felt disheartened by the popularity of the name Eve. “I was a bit disappointed how common Eve had become as a name. Every second baby born seemed to be an Evie,” she says.

Although some friends and family members were surprised by the change they haven’t had any resistance from them, Zanni says: “People have respected our decision.”

Family therapist Abi Gold cautions that although it’s a “parent’s prerogative” to change the name, it’s not something that should be rushed into without a lot of thought.

“When you name a baby you’ve given them an identity. Babies start to hear their name very early on and the associations they make with their own name are ingrained very early on,” explains Abi.

“If you withdraw a name and stop using it there could be some consequences for the child.”

Abi notes that for some people naming a child can be an incredibly emotional process, particularly when parents can’t agree or there’s pressure to follow a family tradition.

“For a lot of people there are demands from family – for example, if a grandparent has died it could be expected that you name your baby after them,” Abi says.

But what happens if you make a mistake or change your mind? Baby name regret is quite common and often a topic of conversation in parenting forums.

Some parents choose to use a nickname in place of their child’s real name. It can be a shortened version of the full name – think Liam or Will in place of William, or Mia, Mila and Milly for Amelia – or even something unrelated, such as Buddy or Sunshine. 

Others, like mum of two Leanne Stanley, decide to use their child’s middle name instead. “We decided early on that we’d call her Isabelle Rose, and when she was born we just went ahead with it. But I started to feel like it wasn’t really her,” she says. 

“We started calling her Rosie, a version of her middle name, instead. Officially her name is still Isabelle Rose, but everyone calls her Rosie now – it suits her so much more.”

Of course, if you’re really not comfortable with the name you settled on, you can always change it. The website of the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages in your state or territory has information on how to register a change of name for children, as well as the associated fees.  

And remember, after all this, your child may grow up and decide they want a different name altogether – as the famous case of Duncan Jones, who was born Zowie Bowie, the son of David Bowie, goes to show!

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