Baby Names

Can You Really ‘Claim’ a Baby Name?

I did—here's why
can you claim a baby name"
can you claim a baby name
Source: @francois_et_moi
Source: @francois_et_moi

Both my older sister and I are grandma’s girls. A majority of our core memories from childhood involve either playing in the dirt and helping with chores on our paternal grandmother’s farm or staying up way too late watching the Game Show Network with our maternal grandma. Though our grandmothers were two vastly different people, they were the women who shaped us, perhaps more than anyone else.

Ever since I can remember, whenever the topic of choosing a future baby name came up—which, like it does for many young girls, was more than once—my sister and I both knew we wanted to draw inspiration from our family. These baby name talks led to a conversation that could’ve gotten heated had we let it. Yet even though she is several years older and would certainly be having kids first, I “claimed” using one of our grandmothers’ names for my future baby. Even internally, this notion posed the question—can you claim a baby name, really? Well, I did, and here’s why.

Can You Claim a Baby Name Before You’re Even Pregnant?

All’s fair in love and baby names, right? Especially among sisters! In all seriousness, though, choosing a baby name was a conversation my sister and I had more than once, and we always made sure it was civil. We both knew we wanted to name our kids after relatives. I simply shared my interest in using the name Mae after our paternal grandma, Laura Mae. I explained that not only do I love the name because of its connection to our grandma, but also because I think it makes a great middle name—which is how I intend to use it.

can you claim a baby name?
Source: Brett Nicole Hayden

In our case, the “claiming” of a baby name was more of a sharing of my wishes. If she had gone on to use the name Mae down the line before me, I don’t necessarily think I would’ve looked at it as her stealing my baby name. Honestly, since I plan on using it for a middle name, I think I still would.

Things get more complicated in a situation where feelings can get hurt or if both parties using the name would be more obvious and unwanted. Overall, though, when it comes to calling dibs a baby name, I don’t see a problem with it. As long as both individuals remain respectful, no feelings have to be hurt.

How We Made It Work

When my sister welcomed a daughter, she graciously kept my wishes in mind. We were fortunate to be so close with both of our grandmas, so in 2016, she honored our maternal grandma, Jeanne Rea, by naming her daughter Reagan. I admired her innovation—taking a short but sweet middle name and making it a bold and creative moniker.

little girl-calling dibs on a baby name
Source: Brett Nicole Hayden

Like many young girls do, I dreamed about what I would name my future children. And yes, I even have a list of options saved in my notes app for when that day comes. Over the years, my favorite baby names have changed. There are always fun trends coming and going and different places to draw inspiration from. One thing has never changed, though, and that’s the middle name I wanted to use. Explaining this to my sister early on meant she could see how much it meant to me. Plus, it helped that we had another amazing woman to honor when she was naming her daughter. This combination allowed us to make the baby name claiming situation work.

What to Do if Someone Uses Your Baby Name?

Anytime you call dibs on a baby name, you run the risk of them pulling a Laney Berlin in SATC and stealing your baby name. If this does happen, there are a few important things to remember.

Even if someone claims a certain name, that doesn’t mean everyone has to be respectful of that. In the case of me and my sister, the name meant a lot to her, too. It would’ve been entirely understandable if she chose to use it—even knowing that I wanted to. Understanding that we don’t own the rights to any particular name may lessen the blow if it gets used by someone else.

That being said, if someone uses the name before you can, it doesn’t mean they own the rights to the name. I would still have every right to use my chosen middle name, even if my sister had as well. There’s no rule saying two kids can’t share the same name, even if they’re relatives.

Worst case scenario, as hard as it can be, sometimes we just have to let things go. Motherhood often requires us to be adaptable. Maybe losing the perfect baby name is the first step in growing in that way. And who knows, maybe there’s a name out there more fitting for a little one. When it really comes down to it, what matters most is that our kids have the opportunity to grow into who they’re supposed to become.

brett nicole hayden

Brett Nicole Hayden, Editorial Assistant

As the Editorial Assistant, Brett works with the editors of The Everymom on the content creation process by updating stories, sourcing images and graphics, and pitching and contributing her own articles. Her favorite topics to write about are culture, relationships, and living. She’s also The Everymom’s resident baby names and family movies expert!