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Melissa and Ben are expecting their second child. They already have a daughter named Polly – Ben chose her name. The family surname is a short familiar one beginning with R.

So far Melissa’s name lists look like this:

Girls
Liza
Cleo
Ines
Marguerite
Stella

Boys
Jack (a family name, but more common than Melissa would usually go for)
Fergus
Douglas
Ned
Sidney

If it’s a boy, the middle name will probably be Linton, as this is a family tradition. If a girl, there is no middle name chosen, but Mary is one option that Melissa likes – it’s a family name. Polly also has a family name in the middle.

Generally Melissa prefers names that aren’t highly popular, and she likes names that can be easily shortened or have a nickname eg Liza nn “Lulu“. Melissa and Ben are not fond of overly “girly” names, and don’t want something that will sound “old ladyish” next to Polly.

They are very open to hearing fresh ideas, because so far there is no name that stands out from the pack, or which they really love.

* * * * * * * * * *

It’s tough when you have no shortage of possible baby names, but none that jump up and down in front of you, shouting, “Pick me! I’m the perfect name!”. It’s a problem that especially seems to affect parents expecting their second child.

Naming the first baby is often so easy: you get to use your favourite name since always, or the right name seems obvious from the start. We tend to second-guess ourselves when the second child is due, worry a lot more about it, and also have to think of something that will sound okay with the first child’s name.

I would take the pressure right off yourselves and have some fun. You’re actually in a good position, because you are both in a similar head-space, and not disagreeing with each other. This seems like an opportunity to get creative and open yourselves up to the possibility of all kinds of names.

Why not make a game of it? You could go for the “random name choice” idea where you flip coins or pull names from a hat or open a baby name book at random. Or you could have a “play off” type name where two names compete against each other, and you both eliminate the name you like least – “It’s time to go … Douglas”. Or pretend you’re talent show judges: “Cleo, it’s a yes from me”. Or go on “dates” with your name list, trying them on for size, until one of them gets a rose. Feel free to be as silly as you like!

So I will look at your name list, but I really want you to have a few giggles together as well.

GIRLS

Liza
This is quite different name to Polly. Polly is a relatively uncommon name, but you hear it enough that it seems like a regular name – so far this year I’ve seen three new babies named Polly. On the other hand, I have never met even one person of any age who had Liza as their whole name. So while Polly seems fresh, underused, and up-and-coming, Liza seems extremely rare and possibly a bit dated.

I can also see potential pitfalls, with people mistaking it for the popular Eliza, or reading it as Lisa, or not being sure whether it’s said LIE-za or LEE-za. You seem to want the name so you can use Lulu as the nickname. Could something more obviously Lulu-like be the answer, like Lucia, Louisa, Eloise, or Talullah? (I was going to say Lucinda, but Polly and Lucinda is a bit too much like Polly from the nursery rhyme who sat among the cinders!). Or could you use Lulu itself – Polly and Lulu are utterly adorable together.

Cleo
This is a cool name, and I think makes a wonderful match with Polly. It suits your wish for a name that doesn’t make Polly appear “old ladyish”, because Polly and Cleo seem young and hip, not fusty and vintage. Interestingly, I have seen the exact same number of baby Cleos as baby Pollys, so they feel like a good match popularity-wise.

Ines
That’s a really pretty name, and manages to sound exotic-but-not-too exotic. Weirdly, it doesn’t sound that strange with Polly either. I can foresee pronunciation issues though – I’m not sure myself whether you would say it IN-es, or EE-nes, or ee-NES. It might also be confused with Innes, which is sometimes given to girls.

Marguerite
How elegant and chic! I love Daisy as the nickname for Marguerite, but you might think Polly and Daisy is too old-ladyish, or too cutesy (same with Maisie?). What about Margot? Polly and Margot is a gorgeous sibset.

Stella
A pretty, starry, classic name, and the fact that it’s also popular (which you don’t normally go for) makes me wonder if you like it more than you think? Polly and Stella does have a very strong L sound though.

BOYS

Jack
I wouldn’t worry about the popularity if Jack is a family name that you like and have strong positive connections to. This is a good, solid, unpretentious name that sounds very manly with your surname. Nothing could be more down-to-earth than Polly and Jack, and both being popular nursery rhyme characters adds a touch of whimsy.

Fergus
Very handsome and rather hip. It sounds both aristocratic and rugged, and I love it with your surname. Gus would make a cute nickname.

Douglas
This is the kind of name that parents don’t often consider, but it’s a classic and is still in some use. It’s not hip like Fergus, but has something of the same sturdy vibe.

Ned
This sounds great with your surname, and Polly and Ned is just too cute!

Sidney
This is quite similar to Polly – a vintage-style name that is coming into use more and more, so I think they make a great match.

Other Names You Might Like
Adelaide
Anneliese
Daphne
Marigold (a spin on Mary, but might need a different middle name)
Meredith
Nora

Hugh or Hugo
Campbell
Barnaby
Magnus
Finlay
Alistair

I think the names you have thought of already look pretty good, and maybe one of them is a name that will grow on you until you love it, or one name will suddenly seem perfect once the baby actually arrives.

I hope that blog readers will suggest as many names as possible for you to consider – one of them could be the perfect choice!

Readers, what what do you think of Melissa and Ben’s name lists? What do you think you should do when no name really stands out? And can you suggest any names that go with Polly without seeming old-fashioned?

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