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Baby for sale? Mom lets advertisers pick baby's name for $5,000

Kim Grundy is a mom, writer, expert laundry folder and sandwich maker, not necessarily in that order. Raised in Oklahoma, she is now a West Coast gal and lives in California with her husband and two sons, along with one dog, two fish (oo...

Baby name contest sparks controversy

Would you let an advertiser pick your baby’s name for $5,000? A parenting startup called Belly Ballot ran a contest and one L.A. mom is ready to turn over her baby’s naming rights for the cash.
Newborn baby

Most parents put a lot of thought into picking the perfect baby name, and that includes searching the internet, reading books, looking at family names and seeing how well the name flows with the last name. One thing that probably doesn't cross their mind, however, is selling the baby name for cash. That is exactly what one parenting website called Belly Ballot has proposed with their “$5,000 National Belly Branding Contest.”

“One lucky pregnant couple will win $5,000 in exchange for letting the entire world decide their baby’s name,” the contest rules explain. “We will select a number of currently trending names, and names sponsored by our advertisers to be listed on the ballot.”

Baby name for sale!

Just to be clear, the winner of the contest doesn’t get input on the names, as the rules state that Belly Ballot and their “advertiser sponsorships” decide on the name options and then there will be nationwide voting on those particular names. No word yet as to which advertisers are involved.

The comments on their website were mixed, with some excited about the money prize:

“My husband and I are trying to buy a house because our apartment is too small for our new baby and this would be huge help for our down payment,” wrote one parent.

Other commenters had reservations about the contest:

“Don’t get me wrong… I could use the money, but this sounds a bit outrageous,” wrote one commenter. “What if everyone chooses a terrible name? Am I still on the hook to choose it? Why can’t I select my favorite names instead of you determining that?”

And another:

“This is crazy. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for even considering this. What are you going to tell your baby when they ask you how you chose their name? Don't do it, you will regret this.”

How much is your baby name worth?

Many parents, including the pregnant California mom named Natasha Hill who won the contest, saw this as a good financial move, with Belly Ballot saying she revealed she would “spend half the money on credit card debt and the rest would go into a college fund for her new baby.”

“I’m so excited to have won!” Hill is quoted as saying. “I think the whole Belly Ballot concept is so social and fun, and can’t wait to see what everyone votes for!”

Some parents agree with Hill, with one commenter on the site defending themselves against the negative comments, “Well, I’m so happy you are in a good financial position where you don’t need the support… must be nice. Don’t judge others who could really use the money to provide a better life for their children.”

We reached out to Lacey Moler, co-founder of Belly Ballot, who told us she has seen “excitement” with the contest.

“I don't really view it as selling your rights as much as an exciting opportunity for a new mom to include people all over the world to vote on and help her pick her baby's name,” she told SheKnows. “... [The] winner... is thrilled about being able to crowdsource the name. I know that this might not appeal to everyone, and we definitely respect parents who choose to keep their name and the baby naming process more private. However, we are allowing baby naming to become more social, and a lot of parents love being able to include their friends and family in the process.“

Crowdsourcing baby names did generate a buzz recently when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer sent group emails and tweets asking for baby name suggestions. There is one major difference, however, in that advertisers weren’t paying to have her baby name rights and she got the final say (Mayer named him Macallister, by the way).

A dangerous precedent

Kasey Candela, founder of The Rosa Cee Community, had concerns when he heard about the contest.

“To me, this is a dangerous precedent,” Candela tells SheKnows. “Some things have to still be sacred. Our children are not baseball stadiums. They are not a football bowl game. These aren’t things that we can sell for money or leverage for money. It is one of those things that should be off limits. You can make the case that a grown adult could do something like this — although I wouldn’t agree with that — but at least you have a consenting adult. In this case, the child is not even born yet.”

Candela says that the Belly Ballot contest violates not only our culture’s morality, but the rights of the child as well.

“We are obviously in a horrible economic position and most people are hurting but there are some things we just cannot do for money,” he told us in a phone interview. “You have to keep your dignity and your pride. There are a lot of tempting things — like why don’t people go into prostitution in bad times like this? There are bridges that are too far and I think a lot of people are being short-sighted and don’t understand the implications and they will look back and be sad at their decision.”

Candela said he also spoke with Belly Ballot co-founder Moler about his problem with the contest. “For her it was just for fun. I said to her, ‘Don’t you think that this could be a dangerous precedent that if all [of] the sudden we as a society deem that selling our children’s organs or getting a tattoo of a logo is OK?’ She didn’t deny it.”

In fact, Candela said his Christian organization Rosa Cee consists of a group of people who share the same concerns about traditional parenting and cultural values regarding childrearing and they plan on boycotting the advertisers who take part in this contest.

“Our goal is not only to stop the contest. With any of the advertisers that come out, we want them to know that there is a grassroots effort and there are people who really do care and are willing to use their pocketbooks to stop these kinds of cultural issues that we don’t agree with,” he said. “Personally within our group, we are not going to buy any of their products and hopefully this will grow and will be a chain reaction and it will be a spark that will pass along to other groups.”

Tell us

What do you think? Would you sell your baby's naming rights for cash? Or do you think Belly Ballot has gone too far with this contest? Weigh in below!

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