My Secret for Coming Up with the ‘Perfect’ Baby Name

Coming up with the “right” baby name has got to be one of the biggest responsibilities involved in parenting. Before our children have language to express themselves, or in some cases before they even open their eyes, their parents have chosen the name with which they will walk through life for all their days. This name could take them to the Courthouse, the Whitehouse, or even to the Moon. This name could end up on a marquee someplace in bright lights, hordes of people waiting outside.

Don’t screw it up, amirite?


I personally feel that one of the hardest things about naming my children has been about trusting my instincts — and sticking to my guns. Every parent will tell you that it’s important to love your child’s name. You say it, text it, and yell it about a million times a day. You get baby blankets and clothing emblazoned with it upon your little one’s arrival, and generally speaking, it’s a word you hear constantly for the rest of your life. Picking the right one can feel overwhelming. When you factor in your partner’s choices, other people’s opinions, or your own personal associations with certain names, it can feel like an insurmountable task. But here’s the thing: You have to trust your instincts.

I get asked a lot how I “came up with” the name Marlowe, if it has a special meaning, or if there is some kind of wonderful story behind it. This is the true story: I read it in a magazine about 10 years ago (magazines are an amazing place to come across interesting names, by the way) and it really struck me. I loved the spelling: M-A-R-L-O-W-E, and the fact that I didn’t know one person with the name. I loved that it was pretty but also strong. I could imagine a CEO named Marlowe, and an artist named Marlowe, and that excited me. It quickly became one of my favorites on my list of girl names (Yes. Yes I have had a list of girl names and boy names for over a decade. In my cell phone. Like a normal person). Of course at this point I hadn’t even met my husband yet, and so I had nobody weighing in at all.

Fast forward about eight years later, and I found myself actually pregnant, and actually expecting a girl…and I immediately hated some of the girl names I had previously loved. Nothing like a really real female fetus in your body to give you the reality check you need. Some of them were borderline ridiculous. But Marlowe still stood out. I still loved it! I ran it by my husband and he loved it too! I was only four months pregnant and already my little girl had a name. We chose Mae as her middle name to honor me (my initials backwards), and then Martino as her last name.

Fun Fact: The past two years have been the first time I’ve ever been a part of a family where everyone has the same last name. Yahtzee!

I got a bit of criticism from some people in my family who knew we had chosen the name; they didn’t understand why we weren’t waiting to “meet her” and decide then. But this is where the trusting your instincts part comes in that I mentioned earlier. What it was impossible to convey to them was that the child I was carrying in my body felt like a Marlowe to me. I already knew her, and I knew as much as I knew anything that this was her name. I was positive. Of course even now I can’t imagine her having any other name, but I’m glad I didn’t allow myself to be pressured by others to second-guess or delay her naming. I believe that our children convey their essence to us subconsciously while we carry them, and help up choose a name that’s right for them. I think that’s why names that I had previously adored on my baby name list suddenly felt so wrong.

With my current pregnancy, we are adhering to the same guidelines. Before we knew we were having a boy, there were a few names that we liked for either gender. But as soon as we cut in to that cake and saw the blue frosting inside– we looked at each other, smiling, and knew immediately which one it would be. Kyle and I both love our little boy’s name, and Marlowe loves it too! She talks to him in the mornings in my belly and calls him by name all the time. Like Marlowe, baby boy’s name is a little unusual, but also feels classic. At least to us! Ha! When the time is right, we can’t wait to share the name along with the first picture of our son– but until then we are standing in solidarity with all the parents struggling to pick the perfect moniker for their new child. Trust yourselves and embrace the challenge, and remember that the baby’s parents have the only opinions that truly matter!

More on Baby Names:

Photo: Nina Suh for Love and Lemonade Photography