There’s so much in a name. Names hold history and meaning, as well as familial and cultural associations. Of course, when the OB told me that Baby no. 4 would be our first son, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to name him.
In accordance with Ashkenazi Jewish custom, all three of our daughters are named for deceased relatives we wanted to memorialize. We chose first and middle names for each girl that will forever recall the men and women who came before us and led notable lives, contributing to their communities and caring for their families.
But having used initials associated with seven of our dearly departed, my husband and I realized we’d run through everyone; all the relatives we’d wanted to honor now had descendants named for them. We had a free hand.
During our first three go-rounds, we essentially played rounds of Scrabble for keeps. We limited ourselves to names associated with particular first letters. I’d always imagined that it would be easier to choose any name we liked. That would have been true if this baby were a girl, since I’d stored up names I liked but couldn’t use — because they had the “wrong” first initial — since working on our first daughter’s name. However, having never thought much about boys’ names, especially names beyond the initials we’ve already used, we found ourselves back to square one.
My husband and I needed time to sort, discuss, and compare our options. Yet, with each subsequent birth, finding time for these top secret conversations has become more complicated. I suppose that explains why our first daughter had her name the earliest, and our son will have his the latest.
How do you pick a name when there are no rules, no constraints? This has been a learning experience. I’ve scoured countless lists of boy names over the last several months. I’ve paid special attention to the names of every man I’ve seen on social media and every male customer service representative I’ve dealt with, just to see if anything struck a nerve.
We’ve discussed meanings we might like in a name. We’ve pondered how names look and sound on their own, as well as with our last name. Envisioning signing everybody’s names to future cards, we’ve considered how various names sound along with the first three first names we’ve chosen. Truth be told, finding a boy’s name that harmonizes with three clearly feminine names is its own sort of challenge.
Along the way, I learned about Kinder, a new naming app. Since my due date is rapidly approaching and the baby’s name has remained unsettled, I convinced my husband to try it with me. My husband and I swiped left or right on our phones, depending on whether we liked names the app suggested. Unlike other baby-naming platforms, each name appeared on screen with our last name, which was helpful. At the end, the app provided a list of names where we’d matched. There were four. Only one was a new addition to the discussion.
Of course, what you want to know is whether Kinder is worth your time. If you’re a first-time parent or feeling stumped, I’d say maybe. It’s quick and easy to use. I also suspect we would have found the app more useful if we were early in our process. However, I’d encourage the app developers to consider a few improvements.
First, the list of suggested names is surprisingly short, even if you opt into a series of name lists. Other major baby name sites offer significantly more options. Kinder’s offering both full and nickname versions of the same names make the list feel even shorter. Second, I’d like a way to check names’ meanings within the app, because meanings matter. I didn’t see any such option.
Third, the algorithm needs to get smarter. It was appropriate for Orly to show up when I requested Hebrew names, but that’s not a boy’s name. Further, as practicing Jews, there’s no way we’re naming our son Christian or Jesus. So, while I appreciated the chuckle when I saw those names beside Braunstein, I would have preferred seeing more names I’d consider serious contenders. We’re getting down to the wire here. I’m not perusing new apps for kicks.
In short, I’d say Kinder is built on a promising idea, but there’s room for improvement in the implementation. For now, I’ve found Nameberry, Baby Wizard, and the Social Security list of top 1,000 names more helpful in painting a fairly full picture of our name options. For anyone looking for more specifically Jewish or Hebrew names, Jewish parenting site Kveller offers a baby name finder and this Hebrew Names site offers a selection of names that you might not have seen or considered yet.
So, if you’re in a position similar to mine, there’s reason to be hopeful. Something will eventually click, and in the meantime, happy name hunting!