We look for baby names that are unique... but also classic. And meaningful, but also fun. Oh! And we want them to honor our grandmother... or maybe my partner’s grandmother? And we want them to be completely original and modern, but easy to spell and pronounce. And don’t forget making sure there are good associated nicknames! And here’s a list of ex-partners names we absolutely cannot use! Let’s face it, naming a baby is hard... but what if you had someone to help you with that? Enter @What’sInABabyNameDoula, Taylor Humphrey, a professional baby name consultant gaining popularity on social media.
A trained doula, Humphrey sees the importance of “holding space” and supporting parents through important decisions and transitions, and few decisions we make for our children will be more important than naming them. Fortunately, that’s something Humphrey is passionate about. Long before she had a roster of clients, more than 33,000 followers on TikTok, and almost 15,000 on Instagram, she was a little kid eagerly discussing what her baby cousins should be named, or writing whimsical fairy tales just to name the myriad characters. She credits her beloved grandmother, a “consummate nicknamer,” in helping her realize that names are more than just what we write on someone’s birth certificate.
“A name was an energy, a personality, a collection of experiences and memories,” she tells Romper by email. “A name is like an encrypted file filled with every bit of information that person would ever do, be, or have.”
Humphrey talked to Romper about what’s in a name, what’s in a baby name consultant’s job description, and her best advice on how to discover the best name for your little one.
What prompted you to become a name consultant?
After graduating from NYU, I lived in New York City taking odd jobs to support myself while I pursued screenwriting. But after moving home to care for my grandmother, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I became sick with a mystery illness of my own that ultimately took five years to officially diagnose.
During that time, I was experiencing really debilitating pain. I physically and mentally couldn’t pursue my screenwriting full time, let alone a 9-to-5 job. So my motivation for starting @Whatsinababyname on Instagram was two-fold: to give myself a small, low-stakes way of accomplishing something on my darkest days, and as a fun and creative way to share my passion for baby names!
How do you approach baby naming with your clients?
It’s not just names; it’s full-spectrum perinatal support (with a small dose of couples therapy, for good measure.) The ethos of my business is to help parents “discover” their babies’ names. I like to use the word “discover” instead of decide, or choose. While decision-making can be wrought with anxiety, discovery is more like treasure-hunting: it’s adventurous, exciting, introspective, and illuminating. For me, baby name consulting is about providing guidance towards the names that accurately represent the essence of a child’s unique spirit.
I create a cohesive, bespoke baby name list based on my clients’ specific personalities, values, motivations, aspirations, inspirations, etc. The lists are completely tailored to them, and address some deeper questions as to who they sense their child is going to be in the world. We work through the list together. I am right there with them, helping them to resolve any conflicts that may arise throughout the duration of the pregnancy until the baby has been born and has been given their name.
What kind of response have you gotten on social media?
Believe it or not, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I have seen a huge surge in demand. When I first started What’s in a Baby Name it gained traction pretty quickly; my follower count was low, but the engagement was high. At first, I was posting about specific names that I liked, and shared insights into how the numerology of a given name could shape a person’s personality. Later on, my interest shifted to the ways in which names symbolize the values of society as a whole. So I transitioned from posting in-depth commentary about individual names to creating lists of names that felt aligned with one another. At that point, people started messaging me all the time asking for suggestions, help, and advice. I was eager to provide support for the parents who needed some extra guidance and inspiration.
What are common requests from clients in regard to baby naming? What kinds of names are they looking for?
On TikTok, I am getting a flood of requests for baby names that “go with” older siblings' names… Parents are looking for cohesive and creative “Sib-Sets.” On Instagram, I get a lot of requests for “unique names.” In my private consultations, I work with a lot of first generation Americans who are looking for names that work in their native language as well as English. They want to honor their heritage while choosing names that feel American.
What's a name trend you're all over right now?
I shy away from mentioning specific names that I don't like because I believe wholeheartedly that women need and deserve love, kindness, support, and acceptance for all of their choices, including baby names. Who needs more mommy shaming?
That said, there is a certain type of name that I rarely suggest for my clients: The Witch Hat name. A Witch Hat name is one, if looking at a graph of the name’s popularity in the United States, that sprang up, experienced exponential growth, and sharply tapered off within 20 years. Crystal, Amber, and Erica, or Kyle, Tyler, and Chad. I make no judgments about these particular names but they feel a little worn-out.
Data suggests that Witch Hat names will be ripe for revival around the time our grand and great grandchildren are starting their families, as many cultures embrace using family names for babies, so you can expect to see names popular for 80s babies to pop back up around 2060 to 2080!
What is your advice to someone trying to figure out what to name their child?
Listen to your heart, and be bold; make a list in the notes app on your phone – once you’ve created space, you’ll be shocked to find inspiration in the most serendipitous places; if you’ve chosen a name, wait to share it until after the baby is born. (I am shocked by how many women come to me asking for my professional opinion after a friend or family member has poo-pooed their favorite baby name!)
And don’t name your kid Lucifer.