Most parents-to-be have several months to decide on a baby name during pregnancy — or at least a short list of potentials — but that doesn’t mean they always get it right.
It's a big decision, after all. You’re giving a name to another human being, which will be crucial to their sense of self and identity and something they'll have to live with forever. Unless it's so bad they decide to change it. Or — in the case of mom Carri Kessler and her husband Will — you realize you made a huge mistake and change it to something completely different.
The Kesslers chose the name Ottilie for their daughter because Carri had a friend living in the U.K. with the name and had always loved it. But it didn't take long for her to fall out of love with the name, because nobody else — including family members — could remember or pronounce it. When Carri suggested people "say it with a British accent" to make it sound better, she was reminded that she was from Maryland.
When it got to the stage that Carri was cringing every time anyone said her daughter's name and introducing her to people made her nervous, she realized something drastic had to be done. Luckily her husband felt exactly the same way, and at the age of 3 months, Ottilie was renamed Margot.
If you regret the name you gave your child, it’s actually not that big of a deal to change it. The easiest way is simply through common usage. Let everyone know the new name, and it won’t take long to stick. (FYI, it’s best to do this before the baby is about 7 months old, as at this age they will begin to respond to their name.) But if you want to remove all traces of the original name, you’ll need to go down the legal route, which is the only way to change the name on the birth certificate, Social Security card, etc. Name change procedures vary by state, but in all cases, the necessary forms will have to be filed at court to obtain a final decree authorizing the name change. Many states allow new parents six to 12 months to make changes on their child’s birth certificate without obtaining a court order, so again, time is of the essence.
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