How to choose your baby’s name

What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually.


Choosing a name – or names – for your newborn can be easy, or it can be near impossible. Just within my own frame of reference from the past year, I know someone who since she was a child wanted to have a daughter one day and had the name picked out for nearly two decades – luckily when she got pregnant it was a girl, and her partner liked the name! At the other end of the scale, I have a friend who didn’t decide on the name until almost the six week deadline post-birth to register the baby’s birth certificate, as she and her partner simply couldn’t agree on a name they both liked.

For my husband and I, it wasn’t a particularly difficult process, but I kept questioning what happens if I don’t always like the name I chose? What happens if we regret it later in life? And of course, what if she doesn’t like or grows up to not suit the name?

You may think not suiting a name is a myth, after all as little Johnnie grows up, who else is he but Johnnie? You won’t find people thinking ‘funny he’s called Johnnie, he reminds me much more of a Sebastian’. But at the same time, as my husband pointed out, names with clear meanings can be ironic – for example, Grace who has none, Charity who is mean, Patience who is always short-tempered. Even then, if it’s a name you love, does it matter if your child doesn’t live up to the traditional meaning?

I’m quite an organised, methodical person so anyone who knows me probably wouldn’t be surprised that I bought a book of baby names, and went through A-Z reading out to my husband the names I liked – and also some of the names I found hilarious. I inadvertently bought from Amazon UK a book published in the US so while it had plenty of English names, and those from other cultures, there were lots that you only hear on American TV shows that to my English ear sounded at best daft, at worst something to only saddle a child with if you wanted them to be permanently picked on in the playground.

He let me know which names he also liked, and I compiled a shortlist. We went through it one evening a couple of months before I was due, and we crossed several names of the list and left ourselves with a -well, a short shortlist – to mull over. We each then ranked the names with a score of 1-3 and added together our score – so a name he liked a bit (1) and I liked a lot (3) would have scored 4, a name we both liked a bit (2 and 2) would have scored 4, and a name we both really liked would have scored 5 or 6. I think we ended up with one 6 and two fives, so we considered all three properly, then chose the 6.

But speaking of being teased in the playground – my last name is Cowe, pronounced ‘cow’. I actually quite like the way it sounds with my first name, but this is my married name so I never had to endure playground teasing of being called a moody cow (or worse). I have a horrible feeling this could be in store for my daughter, so I will have to teach her some techniques to deal with it – but the very least I could do was give her a first name that worked with Cowe.

That ruled out a lot of girls names like Daisy, Madeleine (Mad cow…) and as one particularly bright nine year old told me, Patricia was a no-go as well. I was puzzled so she explained – Pat Cowe – cow pat!

We both liked fairly traditional but not old-fashioned names so it wasn’t that difficult for us both to settle on one we both really liked, and named our daughter Sophie Elizabeth. Funnily enough she quickly developed a nickname thanks to one of the midwives in hospital, who was cooing over her and using various pet names, at one point saying ‘Sophie-moo’. That sort of stuck, and we’ve found ourselves calling her ‘mini moo’ – which is a lot more natural than it sounds, if you have a baby of your own you will probably find yourself calling them something cute like ‘baby boo’ or ‘cutie pie’ at least a few times…. And as a baby Cowe, and the smallest, cutest one of our herd, mini moo is the perfect nickname.

So that’s why I’ve decided to christen this blog (which is new and this is my first post – waves hello) about life as a mum with my mini moo, Mini Moo Life. I hope you’ll come with me on this parenting journey where I plan to share reviews, tips, useful insights and answer some of the questions I wondered about while I was pregnant or wonder about even now. I’ll also include some recipes for everything from living with gestational diabetes (more about that in another post) and when we start weaning, which you will also be able to find on my food blog, Caroline Makes –

Here are my top tips for choosing your baby name:

  1. Figure out what approach works best for you – going through a book and highlighting the ones you like? You and your partner, if you have one, each pitching three names a night over dinner? Naming the baby after a family member, and if so, whose family? Leaving it til the baby is born and hoping for inspiration? Though in my opinion expecting he or she will look like an Enid or a Jacob or a Sarah is not going to happen… tiny babies look like tiny babies, or as the saying goes, like Winston Churchill!
  2. Take your time – but not too much time. My husband wanted to wait until after the 20 week scan when we would know if the baby was a boy or a girl, so we’d only have to pick one name. Even then we didn’t start talking about names for a few more months. Try not to leave it so late that the registration deadline is looming and you feel under pressure.
  3. Try out the name in your head – imagine yourself calling it across the playground, addressing a teenager, seeing the name written down.
  4. Make sure the name goes with your surname and that the initials together don’t spell out anything inappropriate.
  5. Consider whether the name can be shortened – even if you don’t intend it to be, whether you like what it could become. Even though we hadn’t really talked about names initially, my husband and I had a passing conversation once about how if we were having a boy, we would like to name him William Robert, after my late grandfather and a few men on my husband’s side. Then I suddenly realised it could be shortened to Billy Bob… and that name was out.
  6. Decide if you are telling anyone the name, and stick to it. We told everyone we were having a girl, so decided to keep the name secret from everyone, even our parents, until we announced the birth. It was tempting to tell a few people but we’d decided not to, so I stuck to it.
  7. If you are naming your baby after a famous person or fictional character, think carefully. I did a morning in a nursery once and there were several Kylies…. All born roughly around the height of her Neighbours/ I should be so lucky fame – whether that stands the test of time I’m not sure. More recently Elsa has been popular recently – no doubt due to the success of Frozen. But is Daenerys really a good idea? And I’m sure parents are more cautious about naming a baby after their favourite celebrity given how many have fallen from grace.
  8. Consider a name that will work in any situation, whatever your child wants to do in life. Unfortunately some people have preconceptions about certain names, which shouldn’t stop you choosing a name you love, but just because you love the name of a singer or the nickname of cast member of TOWIE, is it actually a proper name or something that might sound trendy now but just downright odd later in life?
  9. Check lists of the current most popular baby names (easy to Google) – this might give you inspiration or equally, you might prefer your little girl not to be one of four Olivia’s in her class.
  10. And finally, watch this scene from Ted if you’re not easily offended:





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