Are you struggling to name your baby? Let my toddler help you. Here are some name suggestions I got when asking my kid, “What should [Friend] name her baby? Oh, she says she doesn’t like that one, do you know any more names?”
Ridaw the Reindeer Nose
Ding Dong Rester
An interesting side effect of gathering content for this post is that now my toddler seems to feel responsible for naming our friend’s baby, and will occasionally offer totally spontaneous suggestions, or ask me if the baby has a name yet. Hopefully this means I am raising a future name nerd!
Some of these name suggestions have obvious inspirations – for example, Alma is definitely after the show Alma’s Way, but most of the others are pure toddler imagination. I was surprised how few of these suggestions are names of real people in our life – Miss Stella is a teacher at preschool, but that’s it. That made me wonder at what age kids start to have a distinct mental category of names as opposed to words. I found a couple of interesting papers (1, 2) on how young children use syntactical cues to determine whether a new word is a proper noun (name) or common noun (not a name), but I didn’t find anything about the slightly different question of when English-speaking children develop the idea that most proper nouns in English should not also be common nouns. If you are aware of any research related to that, please leave a comment!
If you think my kid is onto something with all the word name suggestions, but you’d prefer a list curated by a grown-up, you might enjoy this post.