“She stole my baby name!” What to do when the name you love has been ‘taken’

When I was pregnant with our second son, my husband and I met up with a good friend for a drink at our old stomping ground (well, a mocktail for me!). We have so much history with this old buddy and it was a lovely nostalgic night. She was over the moon about our new bundle on the way and so the conversation soon moved on to baby names.

“What’s on your list?” she asked us excitedly.

“Well, we love three lettered names, like Sam, Ray and Ned,” I replied writing the names on coasters as memorabilia from the night.

“Oh, Ned. Really? Ned … Ned? ” she said, her tone of voice alerting me that I had just ripped out her heart. “I’ve wanted to call my firstborn Ned ever since primary school. It’s my all-time favorite name,” she confessed.

Back up, your not even pregnant! I felt like saying in response, but seconds later I started to feel bad for her because a) she wasn’t, b) doesn’t have a man in her life and is at the age where she’s watching her biological clock tick away, and c) she loved the name Ned so much and for so long, how could I possibly hurt her by ‘stealing’ it?

So we went with Sam, which I sort of regret, but that’s a different story!

baby sleeping in bed with mother

But can a baby name really be ‘stolen’?

Alert the authorities! People everywhere are stealing baby names, I’ve discovered. My own sister-in-law wanted to name her third child Thomas, that was until a very good friend – pregnant a month ahead of her – gave birth to a ‘bouncing baby boy named Thomas’, according to the birth announcement. Now she has a Jack.

Another friend loved the name Ava but dropped it from her list when her sister-in-law had a baby a few weeks before her and surprised her by naming her Eva (even though she’d discussed Ava with her). She then felt the two names would be too similar sounding to have in the same family.

Then there is my husband’s mate whose wife is pregnant right now with their first child and he wants to call him Axl (he’s a big Guns ‘n’ Roses fan) but has just discovered his other pal and his pregnant wife also have it on their list. He’s hoping they don’t use it so he can, but feels they have first dibs since they spoke up and ‘claimed’ it before him.

Baby name dilemma

Why baby names get stolen

There are three reasons this atrocity happens. And I say ‘atrocity’ because for some that’s what it is:

  1. By pure accident. The ‘robber’ in question may simply have no idea they’ve taken something they didn’t know you’d even claimed.
  2. By bad luck. Coincidence happens. Sometimes we just all like the same things. If a baby name is a popular one, well, chances are someone you know is going to love it too.
  3. By intention. Sometimes, name nabbing happens because someone has decided they just really want to use a name that’s been used by a friend or relative already, or claimed on someone else’s ‘wish-list’ – so be dammed with everyone else!

How to avoid name thieves

Everyone comes across names in different ways, so this one is hard to avoid. You could ‘stake your claim’ by telling friends and family your unborn child’s name but then you don’t really have a leg to stand on. A name is free for all!

The other option is you try to take your beloved baby name off people’s ‘radar’ – even if this is a subconscious one, as in “I heard this cool name from somewhere” – by simply keeping it to yourselves until you announce your bundle of love to the world. Sure, doing this may take some of the name brainstorming fun away, but at least you can keep your beloved name under wraps.

If ‘your’ baby name’s been stolen, your options are:

  • Use it anyway! There’s no law to say you can’t bestow the name you love with all your heart on your baby, but only you know if this is going to cause any drama or a fallout with your name rival. Then it’s up to you to decide if you really care! You can always have a chat to whoever has ‘stolen’ the name from you and test the waters. Who knows, after speaking about it you might even discover neither of you really care that much?
  • Spell it differently. She has a Kai, so maybe you have a Ky? Again, if the relationship is important to you, perhaps have a conversation about this with the person in your life first. 
  • Search for a similar sounding name. I loved Ned, so perhaps I could have chosen Ted or even just Ed. Sam won out in the end and after my friend confessed her feelings about Ned, I no longer loved it as much. I felt she wanted it more than me.

At the end of the day, a name is a name. Whichever moniker you give your child, they’ll grow into and it will suit them to a tee, even if you don’t get your first choice you might just discover that all your name angst melts away when you meet this precious soul you’ve been growing inside you.

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