Believe it or not, a small but growing number of parents, after suffering “namers’ remorse,” are mending their moniker mistake by changing baby’s name. Even after a 9-month search through every baby-naming book at Barnes & Noble, many parents crumble under the pressure (family and otherwise) to give their offspring a solid, somewhat unique name.
In a recent poll of 1,219 mothers conducted by BabyCenter.com, ten percent contemplated changing their baby’s name. Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard” and founder of the blog BabyNameWizard.com, says, “Today, there’s this perception that naming a child is almost like naming a product—there’s this huge national drive now not to be like anyone else.”
We all know an unusual name is a memorable name. Georgia governor Zell Miller, Oprah Winfrey, Dweezil Zappa, Tuesday Weld and Barak Obama can attest to the importance of name recognition and recall. If you feel you absolutely must change your baby’s name, please have good reason, so you can explain it to all the people who gave you personalized baby gifts–blankets, clothes, toys and nursery décor–without alienating them forever.
Don’t wait too long to make the change. Dr. Karla Umpierre, a Miami psychologist and family counselor, says that by 12 months children already recognize the sound of their names. If you want to change the name after age two, get your child’s input and approval, because by then, your child has a sense of identity, and a name change might create insecurity and instability.
If you’re determined to make the change, you’ll find that, even though it’s legal to change a minor’s name (with consent of both parents), the process can be frustrating. Many states don’t have a well-practiced system for remorseful moms and dads. You’ll probably spend hours on the phone with the Social Security office, the county clerk and perhaps a probate-court judge.
Of course, you should start with a name both you and baby can live with happily on the first go-round. Most of the time, we’re successful. But if little Jezebel Elvira doesn’t like her name, and you do, let her change it when she grows up. And please, have a good answer for her when she asks you, “What in the world were you thinking?”