What Should We Name Our Baby?

Seriously. Our second baby is due in less than a month, and we’re stuck. Will you weigh in?

Alex and I used to watch movies at night. Now we stay up late discussing baby names. For girls, we’re all set: Jane. But for boys, it has been oddly tough…

Luckily, we’re not alone. Alex actually wrote an article called The New Baby Name Anxiety this past weekend about how a lot of people find it tricky. One set of parents even created complicated Excel spreadsheets!

My dad says we should wait to meet the baby, at which point the right name will become obvious. But the nurse leading our hospital tour told our group of prospective parents, “Babies look like…babies. Come to the hospital with your name ready.”

Julian was our top name for ages. But it’s getting popular—look at the spike!—and it was one of top 100 baby names of 2012. Plus, our close friends just named their sweet son Julian, and we wouldn’t want to step on any toes. So we’re back on the hunt.

Here are three tests we use: NameVoyager will tell you how popular any name has been since the 1880s, and whether it’s getting more or less popular. (Warning: The site is totally addictive.) We also do the blind-date test, where you imagine someone being asked in twenty years, “Hey, you want to meet my friend ____?” It’s a good way to gauge the first impression of the name. And we also think: How does the name sound with Toby?

At the end of the day, here are six names we’re still debating. What do you think?
* We like Sasha, which is a nickname for Alexander. But does that sound like a girl’s name? Would he be teased?
* We like Nicolas, but it’s my brother‘s name. Would that be confusing, day-to-day?
* We like Elias (and the cute nickname Eli), but then our kids would be “Tobias and Elias.” Too much?
* We like Porter, but then it might sound like he has three last names. (Porter Goddard-Williams)
* Alex likes Rhys, which is Welsh, but I think the tricky spelling combined with a hyphenated last name might be too much for a little guy.
* And, of course, we still love Julian. But is the popularity a deal killer?

(By the way, if you say we’re overthinking it, you’re probably right:)

I’m so curious: Which baby names are your favorites these days? Do you care if a name is popular? How do you brainstorm names? Have you known your names forever, or did it take you ages to pick, too? We’d LOVE to hear any advice! THANK YOU!!!!

P.S. The top 100 baby names of 2012. And would (or did) you change your last name after getting married?

(Adorable baby from J.Crew)

  1. We are expecting a boy. We decided on his name Nicholas. I think it’s beautiful. It’s a GREAT strong name!

  2. I am a fan of traditional names, not so much for new names.

  3. We are expecting a girl on NOvember 1, 2013. We decided on Sasha Marie. It is however, a unisex name, and I think either way, boy or girl, it’s beautiful. I don’t think he will be teased if you go for Sasha. It’s a GREAT strong name!

    Best of luck!
    XO Tina

  4. All I can say is if you really like Nicholas, go for it. We were really unsure about whether it would be confusing having two Annas (my sister and my daughter) and whether they both might feel some loss of individual identity. We went for it in the end and I’m so delighted we did. We love the name and my sister just about melted she was so overcome. I guess it’s the highest compliment and seeing the two Annas together is just wonderful beyond words. The have an extra special connection sharing a name. Perhaps you’ll have a girl and you won’t have to worry. Good luck.

  5. I think Elias goes best with Tobias. Personally I like it when the names of siblings match. But probably I prefer Elias from your list, because in my mother tounge, Hungarian, we have a cute children song, that’s about Elias and Tobias :D
    In my case, when we expected our first, a girl, we knew her name from the day the scan showed her gender. There was not a moment of doubt about it (btw: Johanna is her name). With our second, a boy, we hesitated until the very last moment. We literally decided in the hospital, in between of two labour-pains. Then my husband said to me: you are the one in pain, you decide. That is when I realised, Gustav it is (and not Felix).

  6. Thumbs up to Nicolas. And for what it’s worth- my two daughters say that they would never ever go on a blind date with Julian.

  7. MJ says...

    I think you should go with your gut – if you love Julian, it’s yours, and you will always feel a connection to it.

    I was close friends with a male Sasha growing up and I’ve never thought his name to be strange or girlish.

    I would probably stay away from Elias with the name Tobias – why not just Eli?

    I think you are right about Rhys and Porter and the three last names issue. It’s maybe too much…

    I was just looking through my family tree and realizing that in the past people were always named after relatives. My mother was named for her mother and grandmother. My grandmother was named for her grandmother and great grandmother. My father was named for his grandfather..etc. I love the idea of honoring a family member. You could always use a cute nickname like Nico to distinguish the two.

  8. I like to avoid repeats — so for me Julian and Nicholas would be out. Elias and Tobias is….too matchy, matchy to me.
    I love Rhys and Porter!!
    Classic, strong names on a baby or man.

  9. They are all great and I am sure that you will be happy with whatever you choose but I just wanted to chime in that if you don’t want them to be Tobias and Elias, you could just use the name Eli. Its my husband’s name and its not short for anything .. its just Eli :)

  10. I love Eli! How about you just forego the Elias, so you can avoid the Tobias and Elias rhyme. I think Tobias and Eli sound so stately and sophisticated. :) My son’s name is Eli so there is definitely some bias there. But Eli Goddard-Williams sounds lovely while Elias Goddard-Williams sounds like one syllable too many. :)

  11. ELIAS IS REALLY GOOD! It’s great that it’s compatible with Tobias : )

  12. My 4 month old son is named Aleksandar (Serbian/Russian spelling). Sasha is cute to me and is used by so many different cultures so I wouldn’t worry about it being to “girly”. We are still trying to decide what nickname is right for our little guy. Naming your children is so hard! Good luck, whatever you choose will be perfect! Don’t worry about what others think or you will go crazy!

  13. I like all these names. Rhys Goddard-Williams sounds gorgeous!

  14. Sorry to pipe in SO late… but, I must say, ditch Sasha and Eli. Too cute, too feminine. And even though I like Rhys, it’s too much. There will always be a need to spell, etc.
    A boy needs a strong name. Simple and easy. Julian is solid. You can still have adorbs nicknames (Jules, Ju) but when he introduces himself as a grown-up man, there’ll just be something more solid about Julian. It’s no nonsense.

  15. Nicholas would be a nice tribute to your brother and you could probably find a nick-name (heh…Nic-name?) different enough to keep family gathering from being too confusing.

    I’ll suggest a new one. My brother’s name is Justus (apparently there’s one in the Bible) which is unusual. We all call him Gus, though that nick-name is actually because when he was little my mom thought he looked liked the mouse Gus in Disney’s Cinderella. Toby and Gus? Works for me.

  16. McCallister! Cal for short? I had a 4 year old british boy in my swim class and I will always love that name. Or Cavender. :)

  17. just throwing it out there, but how about Gabriel – Gabe for short? It’s my newphew’s name and I think Gabe and Toby is a really sweet combination!

    Also love Rhys, it is a very classic name in Wales, goes back ages and ages (we’ve got two in our family!). My mum is Welsh and my name is Ceri (pronounced “Keri”), so I can empathize with the trickiness of spelling. However, Welsh names are unique without being try-hard, and they’ve got a bit of history to them. I may have hated it growing up but now I love it, even if it means giving most Americans a geography lesson every time I introduce myself :)

  18. From france I vote for sasha!
    definitely a delicate and strong name for a baby boy and still beautiful for an adult
    And I have to say that Sasha begins to be a chic parisian name those days!!

    I completely understand your problem and it reminds me 6 months ago when we had to choose the one for our baby girl.
    It’s like you tell about what your family is picking just a name..
    We personnally named our girl Gloria, after my husband’s portuguese grand mother. Which corresponds to an old lady name in the US and doesn’t even exist in France!
    it’s funny how you can see in a blink if people like (which is often the case i have to say) and pepole hating it.

    Definitely go for Sasha!!!

  19. From France I vote for Sasha! It’s definitely a very delicate and strong name for a young boy and an adult after. And i have to say a beginning a chic parisian name choice those days!

    I completely recognize my situation 6 months ago when we had to choose our baby girl’s name… trendy is not good because you’ll find 3 children with the same name at school
    then the message you transmit with the name you pick..

    Personally we have named our baby girl Gloria, which, in USA, corresponds to an old lady name!! and does not even eixst in France.. and we have had so funny reactions from people. You can see in a second if the person likes it (which is quite often I have to say) or if they completely hate it!! funny. But she’s so a Gloria now!

    Go for Sasha!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Sasha seems silly unless his name is Alexander to me.
    What about Tarquin? I know it from the Faerie Queene (the Spenser poem) but I think it sounds cool and medieval…

  21. I like Rhys, maybe its the one syllable R thing. My son is Roan.

  22. Eli is on my list of baby names, but it would be short for Elliot or maybe Elijah.
    I love the name Rhys! I think Rhys Goddard-Williams already makes him seem like a wonderfully wise soul. I love that your choices are classic names. My cousin recently had a son and named him Henry. It’s so perfect.

  23. I think Toby and Eli sound adorable together, but I vote no for Tobias and Elias – way too matchy-match and cheesy. Elliot could be an option. And Elijah too, but it is very popular, but what about just Eli? The name is strong enough to stand on its own. I also like Nicolas.

  24. I’m a big fan of Gender bending names, as mine is Gender bending as well (Currie) it’s something that is becoming popular, which you can be a part of without him/her having the same name as everyone else.

  25. C says...

    Jane is quite plain… Maybe it’s plainer in England than the USA? Elias sounds pretentious. Eli and Sasha sounds like girls’ names. Elliot sounds great with Tony. Porter sounds like beer – a bit silly to me. Rhys is nice, as is Julian, but it’s no good if you have a friend’s son with the same name. What about Jude? Nicholas is your best bet I think.
    Love the blog Jo!

  26. We called our little boy August, we get lots of say ohhh that unusal…was he born in August (which he wasnt) He suits it so well and it has the ability to be shortened to Gus, Auggy, Augs and his middle name is Willem so he can be will if he wants. i think it is important to name your child something you love and i really dont think anyone elses view counts; you will be saying all your life! When i was pregnant i felt huge pressure to get it ‘right’ but once he was here i knew he was something unique, so we named him so! Whatever you name him/her it will be perfect x

  27. I love the name Rhys. Even though I’m female, my parents named me Mikkele. (Mikkel is the Danish form of Michael, so they added an ‘e’ on the end to make it feminine, which just ends up confusing people).

    Even though no one pronounces it right the first time, I lie to the Starbucks baristas, and I could always tell when the substitute teachers taking roll got to my name because they’d hesitate and stumble over it, I wouldn’t change it for anything because it totally fits me and it’s unique. I think that’s what Rhys would be for your little guy.

  28. Rhys is such a great name. I’m a female, but my parents named me “Mikkele” (Mikkel is the Danish form of Michael and they added an ‘e’ on the end to make it feminine). No one ever pronounces my name right and I lie to the Starbucks baristas when they ask for my name because it’s too hard to explain and I could always tell when substitute teachers taking roll got to my name because they’d hesitate and stumble over it, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. That’s how I think Rhys would be for your little guy.

  29. sasha is my absolute favorite name for a boy! i would love that! porter is great too. love it.

  30. Jane is super pretty for a girl; it’s very sweet and old fashioned, but has spunk as well.

    Certainly Porter… of course I’m biased because it’s on my top five name list anyway..=P

    Others: Finn, Jude, I like Eli, but Tobias and Elias is a bit much, you’re right. What about Levi as an alternative?

    Congratulatiosn whatever you decide to call him or her!! Best wishes :)

    Ruby —

  31. sasha and nicholas… both have meaning being named after a brother or father…its nice

  32. sasha and nicholas… both have meaning (naming after a brother or father… its nice)

  33. I LOVE Rhys. I think that’s such a great name!

  34. jo says...

    I had a look at that site and found out that before 2000 our son’s name of Callum was not listed as popular and now has had a huge spike, a name can become popular if you start the trend!

  35. I am a girl and my nickname is Ely (pronounced Eli) and I absolutely love it. Even though I am constantly getting asked “isn’t that a boys name?” I still don’t care! It helps me stand out from the rest and it keeps things simple! If I could change anything it would be the spelling, but most people I know that I spell it wrong :) – Eli as a boy or a girls name is great!

  36. I had a few college classes with a cute, charming Sasha, definitely didn’t seem girly on him. It’s a popular Russian name too (which he was). I also like Porter since it’s unique, and he’d be a hit in college with a beer namesake :) I had a student named Elias, but I think I prefer Eli. They do rhyme, but how often do you call Toby, “Tobias?” Creative names though, good luck deciding as you head toward the final stretch.

  37. e. says...

    i love Porter. super cute!