If You’re Having Second Thoughts, There Might Still Be Time to Change Your Baby’s Name

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Naming a baby is one of the most fun and fraught parts of pregnancy. I still can’t believe I was allowed to name a human being. I think my partner and I picked a pretty decent name for our baby, though there was definitely a period right after she was born when I thought, “Did I choose wrong? Is it too late to change her name to Evelyn?”

In some cases, parents have more than just second thoughts about their baby’s name, and one Maryland couple had their baby daughter’s name officially changed after they realized they’d picked a “character-building” name that nobody could pronounce.

According to Today, Carri Kessler and her husband loved the name Ottilie for their second daughter. It does look like a pretty name! But although I am pretty sure I like it, I realized shortly after reading it that I don’t actually know how it’s pronounced. Does it sound more like “oddly” or “Oh-da-lay”? (According to Nameberry it is either “Ott-ill-ee” or “Oh-TEEL-ya,” which I never would have guessed. Also it’s apparently a German name and a feminine version of Otto, and I still wouldn’t have known how to pronounce it after having lived in Germany for five years.)

Ottilie is a very pretty name, but the pronounciation thing turned out to be a serious stumbling block.

“No one could remember it and no one could pronounce it,” Kessler said. “I was like, ‘If you say it with a British accent, it sounds really good!’ And people said, ‘But you’re from Maryland.'”

Six weeks later, the problem was worse than ever. Kessler says her grandmother was incapable of remembering the baby’s name.

“She said, ‘I don’t know how to say her name. I have Post-its all over the house so I can remind myself,'” Kessler recalls. “And I was like, f—. We’re f—ed. We’re totally f—ed.”

At that point, Kessler and her husband were experiencing a lot more than the normal amount of baby-name cold feet. They were pretty sure they’d made a terrible mistake.

“Anytime anyone said her name, I kind of cringed,” she says. “Introducing her made me sweat. And I thought, we’re going to keep having to introduce her! This is going to be a problem forever.”

Kessler says she eventually asked her husband how he felt about the possibility of changing Ottilie’s name, and he was like, “Yes! Let’s do it.” Then she asked her mother, and her mother was like, “OMG, yes, change her name!”

So they got a second chance at the whole baby name thing and wound up picking Margot, which is also lovely. (One of Kessler’s friends has taken to calling Margot “Nottilie,” as in “Not Ottilie.”)

Changing the baby’s name from Ottilie to Margot was not nearly as big of a deal as it might seem. Friends and family were generally positive, and the transition was seamless, probably in part because “Margot” was easier to remember than “Ottilie.” Kessler and her husband got the change done quickly, and Margot will never remember having been Ottilie–though she will have a cool story to tell and some baby furniture labeled “Ottilie”.

Speed is of the essence with this stuff, though. It’s probably not a good idea to change your 3-year-old’s name. But if your baby can’t hold her head up yet and you wish you hadn’t named her Pikachu, there might still be time to change it.