Hi Duana!

I am 5 months pregnant and my husband and I are having serious problems narrowing down our baby names. Essentially we can't agree on most names boy or girl. I think it's a good possibility our baby might be nameless for it's first month of life! The ONLY name we are both liking so far is the girl name Isla. My problem with it is that I can't come up with a nickname for such a name? My husband doesn't seem to think having a nickname is important, but I think most people have some sort of shortened version of their names. Would we call her Issy? Lala? the former I wouldn't mind, but the latter is hideous! The other contenders are Olivia and Mischa. Boys names so far have been hopeless! The only two we've come up with are Noah, Liam (my top picks), and Adair (my husband's pick). My husband seems to prefer a strong ending to boys' names. Needless to say we aren't too excited about the others preferences so far. What are your thoughts?

Thanks Duana :)


What if you named her “Anne”? It’s not a suggestion, it’s an exercise. If you named her Anne, her nickname would be Annie. If you named a boy James, his nickname would be Jimmy or Jamie. The actual nicknames are “longer” than the name. Which should remind you of the first rule of nicknames – they don’t have to make sense.  Mine was “Nana” for a while when I was young. It has nothing to do with anything.  Also, nicknames come about organically. Monkey, Sweetface-which-becomes “face”, Lolo, etc. You can’t necessarily force it, unless you intend for that to be the name that’s used more than 50% of the time (like Joey for Joseph).  

So take down the stress a bit, huh? Call her Isla if you want it, let the nickname come of its own accord. I can’t in good faith recommend the lovely name Olivia because of how common it is, but I did read a book where the Olivia character’s nickname was “Liffey” (after a river). It can be outside the box. As for Mischa – why not? It is in itself a nickname for Mikhail or Michael, so would you need another nickname on top of that?

As for your boys’ names, Adair seems a bit feminine to me, actually, but if you love it, I’d endorse it over Noah and Liam which are also very, very common in the under-5 set.   And what would their nicknames be? If you like short names that end in a consonant, how about Amos? James? Nate?

I’m not quite sure what your roadblock to names you love is, but you haven’t hit your sweet spot yet, perhaps because you’re putting unnecessary restrictions on yourself. All the names you’ve sent are five letters or less – do you hate long names? Pretentious ones?   Does the idea of Allistair or Evangeline send you heaving? Figure out what your non-negotiable rules are, and then you’ll be able to find a place where you’re really excited about the names available.