When it comes to picking baby’s name, everyone has a different style. Some go for unique baby names while others honor cultural and family traditions. Some names even tell a story. Fifteen real moms share their baby name stories, plus the story of my own name!
All images used with permission.
How We Chose Baby's Name
From traditional to off-the-beaten path to spur of the moment decisions, here are stories from 15 real moms about how they came up with baby’s name!
My sister and I are both half-Japanese. To honor our cultural heritage, our parents both gave us Japanese middle names. Since I looked very Japanese when I was born, I’ve gone by my middle name, Keiko, my whole life. I am named after my Obachan (my father’s mother), Kei. The suffix -”ko” is a Japanese diminutive. Keiko means “adored child.”
It only took us about ten minutes to pick our son’s name! Judah just kind of came to us during a discussion about baby names in the car one afternoon. Takeshi, on the other hand, took a few more weeks. We wanted a Japanese middle name to honor my cultural heritage, just the way my parents did for me. Takeshi is an ancient Japanese name that means “fierce warrior.”
“Our daughter’s name came after weeks of rejecting name after name on our respective lists; we wanted a name that was graceful and gentle. While channel surfing one night, I landed on a popular fantasy series about a teenager with vampire-hunting skills. I suggested the name Willow on a whim; my husband nodded and said, “It’s perfect!” He picked her middle name, a nod to my Japanese heritage, because it means “beautiful moon.”
Jasmine a wife, mother, and crazy high school English teacher.
My husband Andrew and I, and even some family members, made an extensive list on our white board and crossed off options one by one until we came up with Keenan Edward – Keen for short. We wanted to make sure we had something unique, but not crazy. It was also important to keep an Irish-sounding name, along with a family middle name (Edward) to flow with our older son’s name, Liam Myles.
Nicole loves tacos and is the owner and photographer at Shilliday Photography.
“We wanted a name that had a special meaning and represented our mutual love of Celtic culture and music. Eily – Irish for ‘light’ – struck us with it’s simple beauty, and she truly is a beautiful light in our lives!
Jessa is a jill-of-all-trades, currently balancing motherhood with the demands of graduate school.
“Rainer Maria Rilke is my favorite poet, but Reiner is a bit easier to pronounce. My husband got on board because Rob Reiner produced his fave movie!”
Meredith is an active mom to a 6.5 month old who loves playing outside, doing yoga, having a glass of wine and long talk with girlfriends, and being a counselor.
Lilah Lynn Jolie
“Lilah was the only girls’ name we could both agree on! Lynn is both of our mothers’ middle name. Jolie represents my husband’s French Canadian ancestry, meaning ‘pretty’ in French. Bonus: our daughter’s initials match my husband’s, who is a Jr.”
Charlotte is a hospital chaplain, officiant of custom life-event ceremonies, and first-time mom living in Atlanta.
“I always hoped to raise my children to speak both Spanish and English so I wanted a name that was easily pronounced in both languages. I fell in love with the nickname ‘Isa’ (short for Isabel); when I found out how popular the name Isabella had become, I decided to name my daughter Isadora. The name was a great mixture of familiar and unique and I could still call my daughter Isa!”
Kait Drace is a quirky mom of two who posts her words and photographs at Pictures and Print.
Matthew Clinton & Christopher Jefferson
“After lots of name suggestions and ‘vetoes,’ we finally agreed on these presidential-inspired names. We hope the boys will grow up knowing that they can be anything and will aim high. Even if they don’t become President, hopefully they will emulate these two greats.”
Chrissy is a first time mom of twins who met Bill Clinton during his first presidential primary run in ’91 and wishes she could have dinner with Thomas Jefferson.
“Choosing our daughter’s name, Madeline Nora, was pretty simple. We both wanted her first name to be something simple and popular but not #1 on the baby lists, and something that could be shortened for a nickname. The middle name is my grandmother’s first name on my mother’s side.”
Sara is a marketing manager for a tech company in Boston, MA and a brand-new mom.
“I started with R and L as likely contenders as they are particularly lovely sounds; I also do some calligraphy and L is just a wonderful letter to write. Laela’s first name is a feminized version of her father’s last name, Lael. Her last name is the same as mine, Zoll. So, she’s named after both of us!”
Shara is a consultant working in digital for the Media and Entertainment industry in New York City and first-time mom.
“I work in politics so everyone assumes our son’s name is in homage to a certain President; they are wrong. My husband’s last name and my last name (our baby’s middle name) both have double Ls and we wanted a play on that. Most first names with double Ls sounded too sing-song-y or rhymed. Lincoln sounded unique but not outlandish and hit our L quota!”
Jackie is a first time mama and a recovering workaholic.
Hannah, Sarah & Elly
“Hannah, our first born, got her name from my middle name. Sarah, our oldest twin, got her name because I liked that Sarah means “princess” in Hebrew. Elly, our youngest twin, got her name because I heard another mom call “Elllliieeee” at Target one day and I loved the name!”
Lori is a stay-at-home mom of three, heavily involved in PTO, potty training, arts & crafts, keeping sane by painting, and writing about her life at The Next Step.
We wanted to name after two specific people: my husband’s aunt Geneva/Yocheved and my great-grandmother Esther. We fiddled around with several options before settling on two possibilities: Elisheva Yaffa or Gavriella Esther. When she was born, several of us looked at her keeping the names in mind, and each decided separately that she was most definitely a Gavriella and not an Elisheva!
Elana is a birth doula, nurse, and aspiring midwife who pretends
to write a blog at Elana’s Musings.
Jackson & Brody
“When the time came to choose names for our sons, I was on the hunt for the unique, but not outlandish, but my husband had his own, more basic criteria: Will they lose their lunch money to the school bully every morning? Will they get picked on at recess? Will girls date them in college?”
Lollie writes about life while under the influence of A.D.D. and her unexpected life in the ‘burbs at The Fortuitous Housewife.
“Anna was named after her two of her Great Grandmothers.”
Gretchen is a stay-at-home mom of three.