Baby naming: The rules are, there are no rules

By Megan Goates, KSL.com Contributor  |  Posted Sep 20th, 2013 @ 7:57pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Recently we have seen quite the bevy of high-profile baby naming happening. The biggest baby name news, of course, was Jessica Simpson naming her Irish twins Maxwell Drew and Ace Knute. Just kidding; nobody cared about that.

What did everybody care about? A tiny royal named George, that's what. Wills and Kate, in all their monarchical glory, chose a very traditional, very royal name for their baby boy. Well done and here, here.

Then some parents in Tennessee named their son Messiah and everybody's heads started spinning around in circles, including a judge who ordered little Messiah's parents to change his name to Martin. This baffles me — not that somebody picked the name Messiah for a baby, but that a single baby name in Tennessee was like a rock chucked in a lake, starting a ripple effect of shock that fanned across the country. This was earth-shattering news?


Has nobody noticed that unusual baby names are all the rage? This isn't really a new phenomenon. It was happening when the Phoenix family made River and Joaquin household names, and it continued until Gwyneth Paltrow named her kids Apple and Moses.

Has nobody noticed that unusual baby names are all the rage? This isn't really a new phenomenon. It was happening when the Phoenix family made River and Joaquin household names, and it continued until Gwyneth Paltrow named her kids Apple and Moses.

Creative naming is totally a thing now. This is one of the reasons tiny future-king George is unique: His name is a classic, which makes him stand out from the masses of creative baby namers (since he doesn't already stand out, being third in line for the throne and all).

The movie "Baby Mama" with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pointed this out astutely a few years back when it featured a mom at a playground calling her children Romaine and Cheyenne to come along to a play date with their friends Banjo and Wingspan. Art mirroring life, people.

Not every one is as accepting of creative names as we Americans are. Some European countries are known to have lists of nationally approved names from which parents must select a baby name. In Germany, parents must register the name they have selected for government approval, because apparently Germans are serious when it comes to ensuring that Deutsche babies have good names.

My children's names all fall into the category of "grandpa": We like little boys with old guy names. You could say we are creative by being old-school.

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When our fourth son was born six weeks prematurely and had to spend a month in the neonatal intensive care unit, I heard all sorts of fun baby names ranging from on-trend to quirky-cute. One day I overheard two people visiting the baby a couple of isolettes down from mine. Over the quiet hum of the NICU they were talking about somebody at home, a young relative named Tundra. When I recounted this tale to the hubs, he asked if Tundra was a boy or a girl. I shrugged. He quipped, "If Tundra were a girl, she would be barren."

Later that day several NICU visitors had a discussion about a family friend who had named her baby Kameera Angel Dolly, which just goes to show that when it comes to giving your newborn a name, the rules are there are no rules.

Unless, of course, you live in Scandinavia.

Megan Goates is a Westminster College and USU alumnus, a mother, and a blogger.

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