“How much time should the parents take to decide on a name after the child is born?” A reader named Steve e-mailed me last week with this question. It’s one that many parents in the U.S. don’t really think about, because we tend to choose our baby names ahead of time. But what if you don’t have a name selected by the time the baby arrives? How long should you take?
If the baby has a name, and you’re using it regularly, she’ll likely start responding to it when she’s about five months old. So it would be great for the baby to have a name before this point, to give her time to hear it and become accustomed to it.
But then there’s the paperwork. The baby needs a name before she can have a social security number, health insurance, and so forth. So it would be ideal for the parents to settle on a name within the first few days or weeks, so all the forms can be filed.
So my official answer is: as soon as possible. Your newborn doesn’t care about having a name right away, but if you want her to be covered under your health insurance, that’s what she’ll need.
But if that isn’t possible, my back-up answer is: pick a filler name. Get all the paperwork squared away. Take your time selecting a real name (but try to pick one before the five month-mark), and once you make a decision, go back and change her legal name.
What’s your opinion?