How We Decide On Our Baby Names

posted by Andrea | 11/1/2013

nora faith

As I announced last week, Baby Dekker #2 is a boy!

Although Dave and I honestly didn’t care either way, I’m just so excited to know the gender so we can nail down our name A.S.A.P. Crazy enough, this is probably my most favorite part of being pregnant — and if you ask Dave, he will definitely confirm my love / obsession with picking out the perfect name!

We don’t use books, or the internet, or special Apps for our phones — we just throw out names until we find the one we both love.¬†I have a whole bunch of boy and girl names that I really like — but of course, there’s a laundry-list of “requirements” they need to meet to get both Dave and my approval.

Here are some of the things we think about when deciding on names for our children:

1. Dave is a teacher.

All of you teachers out there know Dave’s predicament of negatively associating certain names with problem students. Even if it’s been several years already, there are still some names I love that Dave just can’t get excited over because of previous problem students.

I do understand this because my mom is a teacher and said she had the same issues with naming my sisters and me. So if a name I like is an issue for Dave, I’m totally cool with removing it from my list.

2. Our last name starts with “D”.

I realize that crazy or weird initial combinations aren’t the end of the world — but with a last name that starts with “D”, there are a lot of really bad initial combinations we need to stay away from.

For example: OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) — ADD (attention deficit disorder) — STD (sexually transmitted disease) — to name a few :)

So, as I’m sure you can understand, some of our first + middle name combos are totally out of the question based on super awkward and inappropriate initials!

3. Our last name ends with “er”.

Several of the boys names I like end with “er” — and that sounds REALLY bad when paired with “Dekker”.

For example, Copper Dekker… no thanks. Parker Dekker… nope.

The ‘er’ combination at the end of our last name eliminated several of my boy names when Dave proposed (yes, I’ve been thinking of baby names for that long!)

4. I don’t like nicknames.

I realize this is weird — but if I’m going to name my child something, I want them to be called that. I don’t want to name them something and then have them go by a completely different name for their entire lives.

For example (and I’m not trying to offend anyone here, just giving examples)…

If I name a child Elizabeth, I going to call her Elizabeth — not Beth, Ellie, or Liz.

If I name a child Katherine, I’m going to call her Katherine — not Kate, Katie, Kathy, or Kat.

I have NO issue when other people do this (and I love those two girl names) but I just want to name my child what I’m going to call them. So if I want to call them Liz or Kate then I will name them Liz or Kate on their birth certificates.

So basically, we will most likely pick a name that doesn’t have a nickname or an obvious way to shorten it — kind of like “Nora”.

5. We both want short names that are easy to spell and pronounce.

Neither Dave or I are fabulous at remembering names — and I am a horrible speller (as you might notice from some of the typos on my blog!) For this reason, I much prefer names that are short, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce. Plus, I always felt bad for the kids with 10+ letter names because they had to write them over and over and over again on every school paper and test.

I also don’t like names that have 4 different spellings because I personally feel self-conscious that I will spell someone’s name wrong (which I hate doing). I like names that can be easily sounded out and don’t require you to spell them 4 times letter-by-letter to the person on the other end of the phone.

SIDE NOTE: I figured Nora would be a super easy name to say and spell, but I find that I often end up spelling “N.O.R.A.” to people because they think it’s “Lora”, or “Dora,” or “Mora.”

6. We both like “common” names, but not “fad” or really “popular” names.

Growing up, I was the ONLY Andrea in my grade — and although our school was medium size, there was only one other Andrea in the whole school all the way through high school. I loved that I was never confused with other Andreas, I loved that I didn’t always need to use my last name or my middle initial, and I loved that although my name wasn’t crazy weird, it was still somewhat unique. (Dave definitely can’t say this about his name!)

For example, my most favorite girl’s name has always been Claire or Clara. I LOVE it — and I probably alway will. However, when we found out we were pregnant with Nora, we personally knew at least 8 different people who named their daughter Claire or Clara in that year alone.

My 2nd favorite girl’s name has always been Evie — short for Evelyn but we would just name her Evie (based on #4 above!) However, we knew at least 11 people who named their daughters Evelyn or Evie in that year alone.

So while I still love both of those names and think it’s wonderful that they are really popular right now, we personally didn’t want to pick such a popular name.

We’re hoping to choose common (easy to spell and pronounce) names that are still somewhat unique (not Dave Jr. for those of you wondering!) but not wildly popular — and definitely no “fad” or celebrity baby names for us :)

7. We don’t want gender neutral.

I actually DO like most gender neutral names — I just don’t want to name my kids a gender neutral name because I don’t want their written name to be confused for the opposite sex.

I realize this might sound totally crazy, but growing up, there was a girl named Jordan in our school and she would always get put on the boys list for things or confused as a male when her name was just listed on paper. I remember how embarrassed she was once, and for that reason, decided that I didn’t want to name my kids gender neutral names.

8. We like names that have a special significance.

I never thought I would be big on naming my kids after special relatives, but when we found out Nora was a girl, I just knew I wanted to name her after someone in our family tree. We came up with Nora after my grandma Norene (4 generations on my mom’s side). Nora’s middle name is Faith, after my mom’s middle name Faye.

I thought Nora Faith sounded a little more “modern” than Norene Faye — and I was thrilled that it met all our requirements above while still achieving my goal to name her after not one, but TWO special people in our lives.


For those of you who are more like Dave, you probably think I’m a crazy person after reading this post and having a tiny peek into the ridiculous amount of thought that I put into picking names for our kiddos.

However, for those of you who share my name-picking enthusiasm — you can appreciate the great lengths I go through in order to come up with the perfect name.

We still haven’t nailed down our boy’s name 100% — but we do have a very short list, and we already know the middle name. And in case you’re wondering, we will not be sharing the name before he’s born… that’s our little secret :)

Do you have any silly or crazy name-games like us?

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Filed under: ChildrenFamilyPregnancy



  1. Kim M


    Your process sounds similar to ours!! I could never get into the cutesy, cute, “modern” names.. not there’s anything wrong with them! I’m just more or a traditonal-name girl. I’ve known the names of my two children for about 8-9 years.. even though they’re only 5 and 2! We had the “perfect” name for a boy and a girl. Our first was a boy- Bryan (to be different.. but know what? Apparently its actually more common than Brian!) and Natalie (again.. to be unique but traditional.. and now everywhere we go, there’s at least one or two other Natalie’s it seems!). My mother-in-law had 4 boys, their father and 2 of the boys had initials JM and her and the other 2 boys were MM. My husband refused to continue the tradition, and did NOT want to continue on with the generational name (he’s a Jr.. didnt want to stick the baby with a III subtitle). You’d never think naming a baby would be so difficult! You should’ve seen us when we were trying to come up with a boy’s name- just in case- for the 2nd baby. Luckily, she ended up being a girl- and we already had her name!


  2. Beatriz


    When my sister was born we went through a huge list of names and rhymed them to see how children would manipulate the name. She finally settled on Dante and I think it was excellent choice. It can’t be put in a rhyme easily and it’s pretty unique for his contemporaries :)


  3. Beth


    Your number 4 brought back memories of my mom. She hated nicknames so much. She liked the name Elizabeth but wanted me to be called Beth not Liz. She knew she would not be able to control what I was called as I became older, so she named me Beth not Elizabeth. However, she did not realize how many times I would have to answer the question of “What is your real name?” I would say just Beth but people would respond, no not your nickname, your full name. I even had a teacher yell at me once for writing Beth on a test booklet instead of my “full” first name. She did not believe that was my full name until she read her class roster. I have only met one other person whose first name was just Beth-not Elizabeth or Bethany.


  4. Jamie


    We didn’t have any requirements when we had our first child except that we both agreed on the name. I am a teacher also so it was difficult as you mentioned in your post. We ended up choosing my husband’s middle name and his grandfather’s first name – Andrew William. Our last name starts with a “W” so my husband’s initials are SAW, mine are JAW and our first born is AWW. So when we were pregnant with our 2nd and 3rd we decided to choose 2 other biblical names for the first name and a middle initial of A so they too would have the AW initials. Probably silly or even stupid to others but we like it. :)


  5. shalome


    A girl after my own heart with your #4. I hate nicknames. Specifically chose names that could not be shortened or “nicked” for my 2 kids also. Names are such a personal thing though so to each his own. :)


  6. Elizabeth


    Not sure if you have a specific first name picked out but I like Curtis ( my first born son). Rarely anyone spells it wrong and its only a male name ( as far as I know). My father in law’s middle name is Curt. And I don’t like nicknames that much either so I only call him Curtis. My second born son’s name is Camden, however this name has shot up on the popularity list as two other celebrities had babies named Camden last year alone. I can’t wait to find out the name you pick out.


  7. Pyper


    We are the same way with our last name. Since it’s only 1 syllable, the kids’ first names had to be at least 2 syllables.

    Although I love my name, people misspell it all. the. time. They always want to spell it with an I. Drives my nuts, so I understand your frustration with spelling. My cousin was a teacher and also wanted simple, easy to spell names for her kids. The problem is that now there are so many spellings of simple names that it doesn’t seem to matter.

    Good luck!! Whatever the name is, as long as you & Dave love it, that’s all that matters!


  8. Michela


    It’s definitely something worth putting thought into, although I also think kids quickly “become” their name. When I was pregnant we had nothing for a boy but a beautiful girl’s name that we loved – Eden Elisabeth. There’s a lot of boys names already taken in our family which made it hard. In the end we stuck with Eden, since it is actually a boys name, and Peter in the middle. I think it does suit him, and it’s fairly unique while still being a traditional name. I’m sure he’ll get Ian, or get Ed and be confused for an Edward, but let’s face it even the John Smiths of the world probably have name issues! Time will tell … Hopefully he won’t hate it :-)


  9. Melodie


    I totally agree about popular names. Just like you, I was typically the only one in my school with my name and I really loved it. Even though my parents didn’t choose the most common spelling I always liked that my name was uncommon but not weird. I wanted the same for my daughter. It took us the entire pregnancy to decide on her name. If a name we liked appeared on the top baby names list we crossed it off. We settled on Meredith and I’m still thrilled. We put a great deal of time into the naming process and for us, it was totally worth it.


  10. Melissa Thorpe


    Ohhh this makes me even more excited to have kids one day. I’ve been picking out baby names since I was in middle or high school. I even wrote them down on the back of my journal (which reminds me I should find that!). I’m sure what I liked then is different than what I like now.

    My husband is also a teacher. When I’ve randomly spit out names that I’ve liked (even though we aren’t planning on children just yet, but he goes along with my obsessions), he will tell me if he’s had a problem student by that name. So nice to hear it’s not just him!

    I do like nicknames, but what I really like (not sure why) is when a first name and middle name could be one name. Like Brooke Lynn. I’m not sure why I like that but I just do. I used love gender neutral names, but now I’m not a fan (for me). I also like unique names, but not too popular. I don’t want my kids to be 1 of 2 or 3+ in a class. I don’t ever recall a time until maybe college where there was another Melissa in my class. I believe there was one other Melissa a year or two older than me in high school but that was it. Emily on the other hand… I personally know at least 5 who were all in the same class throughout high school.

    My husband’s only request (besides the teacher/problem child scenario) for our future children’s name is that it’s not too formal. He strongly dislikes his name (Peter Jonathan) for that reason. He goes by Pete.

    Question for you.. is Dave short for David or is he just Dave?


    Gina Reply:


    Funny you should say that you didn’t have anyone with your name in school. I grew up in the late 80′s and graduated in 93. I had at least 2 Melissa’s in every class. My senior year I graduated with 11 Melissa’s!!. I even had 2 Melissa’s in my bridal party! Good thing that I really love the name. It was on our list of choices when we had our daughter but we chose something more unique, Autumn. I can also relate to not liking anything too formal. My birth name is Regina Antoinette! Really?? My parents always called me Gina Ann but my full name always ended up on class rosters, totally embarrassing!


  11. Gina, book dragon


    We made a list when I was pregnant with our first. There were about ten names for girls and six for boys. One name was crossed off because of a neighbor’s dog. Another because of a bratty kid from school. One added because she was super nice, one not-so-nice co-worker name removed.

    The Statue of Liberty had a celebration the year I was due and we ordered a pocket watch for the baby – with initials. We didn’t know boy or girl so we picked a name for each with the same initials. We had a girl.

    When the next child came along 2+ years later, I still had the list. This time it was a boy and we still liked the first name on the list so both our children have the same initials.

    Labeling sports equipment, lunch boxes or backpacks were a breeze.


  12. Sarah


    I can totally understand your requirements. I also know a couple of Nora’s, a Noora and a Norah. ;-)

    One of our requirements is that the childs name is pronounced the same in English and in German (my husband is German). My name is Sarah, but here I am often called “sah-rah”…because that is the way it would be pronounced. We don’t want that for our children.

    Our daughter is named Laila (or Lila). I did extensive research and found Laila’s who don’t pronounce this as “lay-la”. If we would have kept the spelling as Lila, the Germans would think we named our child “purple”. They would pronounce Lila as “lee-la”.

    I am also a teacher. I understand your number 1. Also as a teacher, I think it is important to know if the child is a girl or a boy when I see the class list and I’d like to be able to pronounce it.


  13. Victoria @ Creative Home Keeper


    I was nodding my head and smiling the whole time I read this! I was a teacher too, and had several of my favorite names ruined for me by some students. My maiden name ended with a D paired with my first letter of my name, well you get the idea! :) I also hate it when people shorten my name from Victoria to Vicky, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. I was really glad to read this, glad to know that I’m not the only one who has a process in place for choosing names, because after all name choosing is serious business!


  14. Kerry


    My biggest requirement is to think of how the child’s name will work in various situations. Can you see him/her being a CEO, doctor, teacher, chemist, construction worker, etc.? I feel that names can really limit people. I have a friend who goes by a very childish nickname, and I know that if his nickname were his real name, I would never hire him for any kind of white-collar job. I know that sounds really judgmental, but it’s something that I do think about.

    Funny you mention the acronyms–my mom did the same thing with my brother. She ruled out a couple of name variations because his initials would have been PMS. :P


  15. Roxanne


    Your list sounds a lot like what we went through, but written out in a nice, organized list :-) When we found out we were pregnant, my husband (also a math teacher!) was adamant that we give our now-7-month-old a “normal” name that people could pronounce and spell. He too had some students with names that I liked but he couldn’t stand. I can totally relate to thinking ahead on the initials… my mini-test to see if it would be an okay name was to imagine the full name in brass letters on a business door somewhere, and if it seemed too silly or kid-ish, we moved on to other names. He did end up with the initials TAB, but since the only major Google result for that was the Texas Association of Broadcasters, I figured it could be worse.


  16. Ellen


    When I choose baby names I simply write down every single name I like.
    And then I find out what all of them mean (that’s really important for me). It doesn’t matter if they’re christian names, japanese names, classic Swedish names (I’m Swedish, btw) or really classic viking era names.
    I also decide if any of the names remind me of someone! For example, when I was young I loved the name Michaela, but then I met this really annoying girl in high school with that very name and now I can’t stand it.
    It’s also important for me that the names won’t turn into a bad joke when my children go to school – children are terrible to each other. For example I wouldn’t name my son Richard because then I know his classmates would make fun of him and call him Dick…
    And all names of course have to match the middle name! I’ve known a long time which family names I want to give to my kids and I want change my mind on that!


  17. Andrea


    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog before but I had to after reading this one. My name is also Andrea so #6 made me smile. I LOVE my name for the same reason! I grew up in a small town and I was the only Andrea in my grade. There were a couple other Andreas in my town. I now live in Kansas City and can’t really say that I know very many more people named Andrea. I have always loved my name also because it’s not weird but is unique. Just wanted to say hi to a fellow Andrea!!


    Andrea Reply:

    Well thanks for commenting and introducing yourself :) Glad to know there are a few more Andreas out there!!


  18. Cindy


    Hi Andrea! Yep…went through some of the same decisions in naming my children. Didn’t want to use a name that was already used in the family. Wanted a name that couldn’t be turned into a nickname. Wanted to make sure initials wouldn’t be odd. & wanted biblical names. Had a precious girl Sarah Lynn & sweet son Paul Alan. & now have a best ever grandson Aiden Gerald. I also told Sarah & Paul the story behind coming up with their names. Fun memories!


  19. Yrma


    Hi Andrea,

    I had a smile on my face throughout your post mainly because my husband and I came within minutes of naming our girl “BG, Baby Girl” (the name on her hospital band ) because we just could not come across a name we could both agree on. We each had a favorite name that the other absolutely refused to use.

    For our daughter we wanted and needed a nickname as our oldest boy is autistic and he was barely verbal at the time his sister came along, and I never wanted him to feel like he could not talk to his sister. As limited as his speaking was he could say a few words including sisi.

    It was my goal to name our child something that could be shortened to CC or name her nothing at all. We finally settled on Selena and as of this day I am the only one that still calls her CC. (Mostly because it drives her crazy) Yes its my right as her mom to annoy her, specially when she tries to correct me, by reminding me what her name is :).


  20. Laura


    Maybe I’m weird, but I always wished I could have a shorter version of my name, so that my full name could be reserved for special occasions (or, I suppose, when my mom was angry). I love my name though, so it’ ok now.

    One of my primary goals is to give my children names that can’t be pronounced different ways, but that seems to be getting harder and harder. When I was a kid, everyone knew how to pronounce “Laura,” but now people always ask, “Laura or lara or lera?”

    My point is we can do our best, but the future as far as what our children will like and how society will continue to change names is a mystery! :)


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