I am due with my 2nd baby mid-November and the gender is a surprise. I read your baby names column obsessively as I am stuck on both a boy and a girl name.  I do not want my kid to be one of a million little Liams, Ethans or Emmas in the class and I agree that the younger sibling’s name shouldn’t be a drastic difference from the older sibling’s name. All the names I’ve put on my list, I automatically say in conjunction with my daughter’s name, Leah.

For boy’s names, the top 3 are Keaton (this is my husband’s #1 choice), Vaughn (not 100% sold on that one, but I don’t hate it) and Xavier (which I’m more leaning to). However, I was wondering the correct way to pronounce the name “Xavier”. Is it ‘eck-ZAY-vee-er’ or ‘ZAY-vee-er”? Is there a Canadian/USA vs British way to say this?

The girl’s names have been harder and have been narrowed down to (in no order of preference) Sadie, Violet, Claudia and Daphne. I *like* all of the names, I just haven’t found the one that sings to me, you know? Hazel was on this list, but our last name has two "Zs" and ends in an "Elle" sound, so I thought that was too much rhyming.  I generally like the classic, tried, trusted and true, but not super popular names, as I grew up in the era of Matthews, Michaels, Jasons, Chris, Kellys, Jennifer, Jessicas etc…


Okay, I first want to reassure you. You are in no danger of having an Ethan or an Emma. Partly because they’re six years old now, but also because you’ve got it, overall – you know your taste and your style.

I love Keaton. I think it might be some leftover Family Ties affection there (raise your hand if you, like me, confused Michael Gross/Steven Keaton with Michael Keaton for way too long), but I think it’s a good name overall, and I think anytime you have the option of the nickname ‘Keats’, you want to lean into that, not out of it. I’m in. As for Xavier, I would instinctively say ‘Zavier’, and I think now that Xander is becoming a more popular nickname for Alexander, that other people would too. It’s the right thing to do, but I think you need to be prepared for ‘ECK-zavier’ now and again, where your biggest challenge is going to be how to correct people easily.

Vaughn seems to be coming up over and over again lately, and I’m with you. I’m not sold, but I don’t dislike it either. Other names that remind me of yours without being them are Clyde, Tate, Heath, Wyatt, and Thaddeus. Anything getting you excited?

Of your girls names, I will say that two are very high on my personal list of favourites, and that I love two others, so you’re hitting me where I live. I will caution, on the popular front, that Sadie was having a moment five or six years ago, and so you could conceivably wind up with your daughter having the same name as her babysitter. If I had to eliminate any, I’d say Claudia is just that much more decorated than Leah and so possibly bounces it out of contention. 

But you wanted more. So: Briony, or Sloane, or Saoirse if you’re feeling saucy and caught the connection there. Daphne always makes me think of Delphine, and there’s a lot of Sadie that can be found in Mabel, or of course in Zadie, if that’s not too much overtaking of the ‘z’ in your last name. How about Djuna or Shea, Vera or Harriet, Eleni or Dinah or Anais, even?

I know it’s in here somewhere, and that if it isn’t, it will point you to exactly where it is. Let me know!