Kristen is the insightful blogger behind Swistle: Baby Names, but she writes under the whimsical name Swistle, with her avatar labelled as Swistle, of Thistleville. I’m not sure what she intended by the pen name, but it reminds me of a wind whistling through a field of thistles – someone with a mind which is cool, sharp and practical.
Who is Swistle?
Swistle is the doyenne of personalised baby name advice columnists. From reading her blogs, the impression I get of Swistle is that she is a person with exacting standards, but realistic expectations. Which I think is the perfect mindset for a baby name advice blogger.
The Premise of the Blog
People write in with their baby name dilemmas, and Swistle answers them. Along the way, interesting naming issues come up for discussion, such as whether babies choose their own names, or what happens when all the names you like are really popular, or how to stop someone from using a nickname for your baby that you hate, or why isn’t Parsley a name. But plenty of people just want to know the correct pronunciation of a name they are considering, wonder which spelling of a name would be best, or seek to make their sibset sound harmonious, or at least not terrible.
You are free to weigh in with your own opinions by leaving a comment, and if you don’t feel you have anything new to add, you can often participate in public polls.
When the parents eventually have their baby, they write back and tell us all what name they chose, and sometimes include a photo of their new bub so we can see how well the name suits them. (At this point, you may find that the parents have ignored every piece of advice given to them, and gone with the name they wanted to use all along, even though nobody liked it, and tried to persuade them not to use it).
Getting Help From Swistle
You need to email her with your problem – Swistle provides information on how best to get your letter selected, because not every letter can be published. She says she only answers questions from US parents, but if you aren’t from the USA, you may be able to get your letter published on general naming topics. I have seen one Australian get their letter published.
Swistle’s Favourite Baby Name Book
The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg. She also keeps a close eye on the US popularity charts.
How Long Has Swistle Been Blogging?
She began Swistle: Baby Names in February 2008, but she had been blogging since 2006 on a personal level. She was on Blogspot until earlier this year, when she moved onto her own website (a process which involved much wailing and gnashing of teeth, apparently).
Swistle’s Other Blogs
Swistle, which is a personal/parenting blog, and Milk and Cookies, which is a shopping blog.
Swistle on Social Media
You can connect with her through the Facebook page for the baby names blog, and through Twitter, but this is a personal account and not primarily for baby names.
Other Places That Swistle Has Written About Names
Nameberry, BlogHer and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine. She has also been recommended on Disney Baby’s Best Blogs for Baby Name Inspiration.
She has five children, including a pair of twins. On her blog, she uses as their aliases Robert, William, twins Elizabeth and Edward, and Henry. However, she explains on BlogHer that their names are actually closer in style to Ian, Keegan, Clarissa, James, and Caleb.
Baby Name Advice from Swistle
She has prepared a “cheat sheet” for expectant parents, to help them start their baby name quest the right way. Here’s the low down:
- Make a list
- Consider people, places and fictional characters you may want to honour
- Check the popularity rankings
- Even on your first baby, think ahead to future sibling names
- See the middle name as a place to have fun and seek compromise
- Be reassured that everything will work out
The best advice I think that Swistle has ever offered on her blog is that there are NO RULES when it comes to choosing baby names. So many people limit their choice of baby name according to what they think they “should” pick, that they end up eliminating all their favourite names, or find that there are no names left that they like.
(Picture shows a field of Nodding Thistles)