Can you call dibs on a baby name?

Can you call dibs on a baby name? [Photo: Getty]
Can you call dibs on a baby name? [Photo: Getty]

Ah the politics of baby names. Always known that you’re going to call your first born after your great aunt’s cousin first removed? Come up with something so unique you’re afraid that if you reveal it, someone else might steal it?

It used to be that parents kept their chosen baby name a secret until after they’d given birth. But there’s been a growing trend in people shouting their monikers from the rooftops in the hope that if they call shotgun, no one else will dare lift it.

But while everyone has the right to call their baby whatever they choose, is it ok to call dibs on a name and try and stop anyone else in your inner circle from using it too?

Well, according to the baby naming experts, in order to ‘claim’ a name you have to have a really solid reason.

“It has to be a name that you have some personal association with, not just a family name,” Pamela Redmond Satran, creator of Nameberry, tells Personal Space.

“If it’s your grandmother’s maiden name, if it’s the great, great grandfather’s middle name and you have 50 cousins who also like it, you can’t call dibs.”

It’s also not ok to lay claim to names that appear in the most popular list, or a hipster or trendy name, whether or not they have a personal meaning to you.

Nor can you claim ownership of a name when you’re not even pregnant. (Yep apparently people actually do that!)

“You cannot call dibs unless you are actually expecting a baby, which people try to do,” Pamela continues.

“If you are expecting, and say it’s a girl, your grandma was Elizabella, you are completely in your rights to call dibs in that sense among your close friends and family members. You can call dibs to people you’re likely to see and have a part in your baby’s life as your family grows up.”

Can parents to be ‘claim’ a baby name? [Photo: Getty]
Can parents to be ‘claim’ a baby name? [Photo: Getty]

According to Pamela, the only other situation when you can ‘own’ a baby name is if you invented an original name when you were a child. In that case you can claim it for your own among your friends and family.

Who knew there was a whole baby naming etiquette?

Little wonder therefore that people have had actual fallings out over so-called name stealing.

Back in September a mum-of-two took to the Internet to express her frustration about her sister’s decision to copy her child’s name — not once, but twice.

Taking to parenting forum Mumsnet, the woman shared her frustration after her sister announced she’d be naming her unborn child the same name as her sibling’s two-month-old son. She used the platform to ask readers if they thought she was “unreasonable” to think her sister’s choice was “unfair”.

It’s a situation Pamela is all too familiar with.

“I’ve heard a lot of cases of people who are in the same family who live hundreds of miles apart, who share the same family member name and it can cause hard feelings,” she tells Personal Space.

So how does she suggest people navigate the baby name minefield?

“Any way to lay down a rule that’s going to make it easy and not hurtful helps,” she says.

“Everyone is on the hunt for their own special name.”

Let’s face it no one has a copyright or certificate of ownership over a name, but parents-to-be should try to be respectful of others’ feelings when it comes to choosing a moniker for their little one, particularly if a certain name holds a special meaning for another couple.

You may have harboured a favourite name since you were a kid, but it’s possible that it happens to be your sister or best friend’s favourite name too. And if you do both end up choosing the same moniker is it really the end of the world?

That being said, if I ever have another child I’ll probably call it Mabel. Just saying.

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