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Choosing a name when your first choice is off the table

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You were so close! You thought you had the perfect baby name all picked out, but now it's off the table. Read on to learn how to let go of the idea of the perfect name and get to the business of finding something even better — your baby's name.

You might be here for any number of reasons. You had a gorgeous baby girl name picked out and learned you're having a boy. A co-worker just had a baby and used your top choice. You shared the name with your mother and learned of an unsavory character from her past with the same moniker. A questionable celebrity gave her child the baby name you've always loved.

It happens.

So where do you go from here?

Start by letting go of that most loved name. Easier said than done, I know. When a name is truly off the table, don't compare each new name you come across to the discarded favorite. This is an unfair fight — if the reigning world champion can't compete in the Olympics, no one has to beat his time to win gold. Once you start letting new baby name choices stand on their own merits, you'll be able to see what you love about them rather than what they lack compared to the other.

Why did you love the name?

Ask yourself what drew yourself to that favorite baby name — you know, the one I just asked you to forget all about — in the first place. Then see if any other names fit into that niche. If the name was for a grandmother who has since been honored by another family member, could you use a different part of her name? If you had to let a name go due to unfortunate initials, can you find a name that rhymes but starts with a different letter? Looking all around — but not at — your top choice can be a clever way of finding baby name inspiration.

Go a totally different direction

Choosing a baby name of similar style to your discarded favorite can sometimes backfire, serving as a daily reminder of the Baby Name That Got Away. If you think this might be you, we recommend starting fresh. Find some category, any category, of names that sounds interesting and get to browsing. Literary names, names with seven letters, names from Broadway — whatever your interests, there's a list for that. 

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