'How We Picked a Baby Name'


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Baby Wyatt, the new daughter of Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, might have been named Door Kutcher. Well, not really, but Kutcher told Us Weekly that their originally chosen name did not fit “the energy we were feeling” by the end of Kunis’s pregnancy. So, at a Lakers game, he “got name Tourette’s” and began to brainstorm. “I just started listing off anything and everything that I saw: ‘Sign! Truck! Wall! Door!’” Kutcher said. “She [was] like, ‘Shut up!’ Then I was like, ‘I’ve got a really dumb idea. What about Wyatt?’ She goes, ‘That’s it.’”

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Picking a name for your kid is a highly personal process — not everyone can riff at a Lakers game and just know. Do you want something classic or of-the-moment? Rare and unique or timeless and easy to pronounce? Should you honor a family member (and if so, from which side of whose family)? It’s a minefield. Below, parents share their “how we named them” stories with Yahoo Parenting. Turns out, everything from city maps to playoff-style brackets can yield results:

The Last-Minute Method
Son’s Name: Jeffrey
“When my water broke for baby No. 2, my husband and I panicked and put a bunch of names in a hat — literally. I chose one… Jeffrey? Meh, what the heck? We both know plenty of ‘Jeffreys’ from work and school, but neither of us knew of any young children with the name. We thought about people from our past about whom we had fond memories — classy people, fun people, smart people. Both of us peripherally knew guys named ‘Jeff’ who were simply down-to-earth. Ultimately, as a mom, I want my kids to be relaxed and happy; I’d love for my son to become the guy with whom anybody’d sit and share a beer.” — Carolyn Smuts

Daughter’s Name: Eliza
“My husband told me, after my water broke, that he didn’t like the girl name we had in mind — he asked me if I liked ‘Eliza,’ the name of someone he met in New Orleans that had stuck with him. Since we didn’t know the gender, we decided to pause our argument and wait to see when the baby was born. Four hours later, we first laid eyes on her and knew immediately that her name should be Eliza, and the name we had decided on months ago just didn’t fit!” — Jennifer Luddy

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Pop Culture Inspiration
Daughter’s Name: Lucy Anne
“My favorite book of all time is ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I’ve read it dozens of times and our second daughter, Lucy Anne, is a direct homage to the book. Her first name is after the author, as well as after my husband’s grandmother Lulu. Her middle name honors both of her grandmothers (Ann), so it’s both a family and a book name!” — Jen Petro-Roy

Daughter’s Name: Sabrina
“I was home from college one night and I caught the Julia Ormond version of ‘Sabrina’ on TV and absolutely loved the movie. (I have since seen the original with Audrey Hepburn!) After that, the name rolled around in my brain — it was just so classy… pretty and traditional with a touch of elegance. Fast forward years later, it was the only girl’s name both my husband and I liked after discussing what felt like 125 options!” — Rachel Slavin


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Family Matters
Daughter’s name: Aleah
“We took Aleah from the name Rosaleah, my husband’s Bubbie’s name. We were going to do Rose but Rose Rosenberg just seemed to be a little ‘too much.’ Jews often name after deceased relatives and that was important to us. Rosaleah passed away when I was pregnant and we wanted to honor her memory. When Aleah was born, it just fit!”
— Lisa Rosenberg

Son’s Name: Rafi
“When husband and I were first dating we had a conversation about how we liked Israeli names and I said that I loved the name Rafi. A couple of months later he came home telling me he had the weirdest conversation with his mom. He grew up knowing his grandfather, who has passed, as Ralph — never knowing his real name was Raphael. His grandfather was a holocaust survivor and didn’t speak much of his life or family after he arrived in the United States. He chose to Americanize his name and build a new life in New York. After we got engaged, my husband and I drove to Long Island so I could visit his grandparents’ graves and introduce myself… a little creepy and a lot beautiful at the same time. I noticed that his grandfather and I shared a birthday… and on 5/11/13 our son Raphael was born! My husband had been very close to his grandfather, and sharing the name felt like fate.” — Rebecca Weinreich

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The Sporting Way
Son’s name: Henry
“We had a playoff-style bracket where we randomly drew our 16 favorite names out of a hat for slots, and the names went trough grueling head-to-head face-offs until we were left with a champion. Then after ‘Owen’ was born, we decided to go with No. 2, because he looked more like a ‘Henry.’ We let his birth-mom pick his middle name (she chose Jakob, her brother’s name) so he would always have a connection to her.” — Kenn Archibald

Quick and Simple
Daughter’s Name: Matilda
“We can’t remember how we came up with her name. Each thought the other had suggested ‘Matilda.’ That’s how we knew it was the one!” — Morgan Baden

Geography and Nature
Sons’ Names: Hudson and Crosby
“We both wanted a New York name, and when we met, we lived across the Hudson river from each other — that one was easy! For our second boy, we wanted another New York name, so I took out a book of street names in Manhattan and wrote down what I liked… Mercer, Reade, Crosby. Also, my husband is Puerto Rican so we think about how the name sounds with an accent, and that was the final test. Crosby means at the public cross, which my husband was into, and I liked the way it sounded.” — Kelly Collini

“I’ve loved the name Gwendolyn since I was a little girl — and it became our second choice for our second daughter. When she was born, she just screamed ‘Gwen’ to my husband and me, so we made the first-choice name (Holly) her middle and went with my childhood favorite. We like Holly as a middle name because now she and her sister, Penelope Rose, both have botanical middle names. We have a holly bush in the front yard and a rose bush in the back.” — Sunny Gold-Pavlus

Name Books!
Daughter’s Name: Filippa
“We settled on Filippa when I was six months pregnant and we read it in a name book. What really sold us was a trip to Scandinavia while I was still pregnant — we drove by a street that was called Filippasway (Filippasvej) in Copenhagen and later we went to a fair in Stockholm where we watched a sweet little pony-tailed girl potato-stamping her name on a shirt. It read: Filippa.” — Jessi Lein

Daughter’s Name: Raina
“For a boy, we decided we would name the baby after my husband’s grandfather, Wolfgang. I had a baby name book that my best friend gave me, and Raina was my top girl name. Once we knew she was a girl, we decided it was perfect. My husband had never heard ‘Raina’ before. I thought it was beautiful, and sounded natural and elegant — different but not strange. My husband liked it because the sound reminded him of his beloved grandmother Rita, as well as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. And — best of both worlds — we used our ‘boy’ name as her middle.” — Julia Graeper