Hundreds of Kiwi parents suffer baby-name regret

(File)
(File)

What's in a name? So asked Shakespeare's Juliet, decrying its importance.

But for hundreds of Kiwi parents each year it means a lot, and regretting their initial choice of baby name leads them to shell out money registering a replacement name.

Figures over a four-year period show almost 700 Kiwi children per year have had their first name changed before they turn two.

Between 2010 and 2011, 678 children had their names changed, Internal Affairs figures provided to 3 News  show. This rose to 762 in 2011-2012, before dropping to 662 in 2012-2013 and rising again to 693 in 2013-2014.

The numbers dipped to 653 in 2014-2015.

Parenting Place spokesman John Cowan says he has heard of cases where a parent changed the spelling of their child's name to make it easier to understand.

One Macedonian mother changed her son Andrej's name to Andrey, while a Romanian mother changed the name of her daughter Ema to Emma.

One couple added the middle name Elizabeth to their daughter's name to honour a grandmother.

However, he says most cases he knows of involve parents having second thoughts about a "ridiculous name they had originally chosen".

"Probably, after a few weeks, they had noticed the expressions [of] bemusement or distaste flicker across the faces of friends and family as they introduced their new baby.

"Name choice can be very hard – I can remember that with each pregnancy my wife and I studied the credits of movies and TV shows for months before settling on names that we have never been totally happy with.

"My now adult kids still harangue us about the names we saddled them with."

He suggests parents wait until a baby is born before deciding on a name, or give the child more than one name so it can choose which one it prefers.

Sabrina Rogers-Anderson, a baby name expert for parenting website kidspot.com.au, says a common reason for baby name regret is parents falling prey to a trend that seems silly a couple of years later.

Trend examples include misspelling of common names, such as Rybekkah and Taylah, and naming children after TV or movie characters, such as Game of Thrones' Khaleesi and Hunger Games' Katniss.

"There are also plenty of other reasons for name remorse," she says.

"Maybe you picked a name you didn't really like because you and your partner couldn't agree, or the name you chose suddenly shot up in popularity and there are three other kids in your child's class with the same name.

"Or maybe you didn't realise that there was a negative association with your child's name until someone pointed it out and it ruined the name for you."

Ms Rogers-Anderson says celebrity baby names have been a huge influence for years and are still going strong.

"Although they do take a few years after the celeb baby is born to make their way up the charts.

"You'll notice names like Harper (Beckham) and Mason (Kardashian) are just now becoming quite popular even though those babies were born a few years ago."

She advises parents to try to avoid passing trends and pick a name that will look good on a job application.

"It can still be unique and different, but it shouldn't make your child stand out for the wrong reasons.

"Time and time again, employers have told me they can't help but look down on misspelt names."

Since 1995, legislation has set out rules on what names are acceptable in New Zealand – rank, title and numbers are not allowed.

Data released by Internal Affairs earlier this year listed several names that had been turned down in 2014, including Senior Constable, Corporal, six rejections of Justice and one rejection each of Justyce and Justis.

The many royal references rejected included Prince, Princess, King, Majesty and Royal-Rule.

There was one attempt to name a child Christ.

Births, Deaths, Marriages registrar Jeff Montgomery said parents considering a name change could write a letter to Internal Affairs and if they applied within two years of a child’s birth the fee was $51.10.

"We cannot provide examples of changed names for privacy reasons. It’s important to note that relatively few names are changed, given 63,000 births are registered each year."

If you have experienced baby name regret and want to share your story, email noles@tv3.co.nz

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