I am and have always been obsessed with names. I like learning about people's names, I like naming things, and, yes, I've joked that the only reason why I had kids was to give them names. So you can bet I love the idea of nicknames! There are so many to choose from, too, from specific to general and popular. One of the most common for little girls is "princess," and while I don't have a huge problem with it I have to admit that it's a little annoying and dated. Thankfully, there are nicknames for your daughter that aren't "princess." So, you know, expand your vocabulary, people!
Before I became a professional writer, I spent years as a museum educator. One exercise I did with countless kids in the galleries and classrooms was to discuss the importance of names —family names, the names we're given, and the names others choose for us or refuse to acknowledge. The point was to show that names are an intrinsic part of our identities. They can link us to our past and our culture and, sometimes, give an indication of the kind of life our name-givers want for us.
So, while princess is fine (I'm on record as saying I think playing princess is a lot of fun), princess in isolation, especially coupled with a lot of the other really obnoxious messaging girls get about what virtues they should espouse (beauty, coyness, delicacy) is, perhaps, a bit limiting. So here are some other options one could use in lieu of princess or at least in conjunction with:
It's a nice royal alternative, I think. It conveys all the good things about princess (special, honored) but none of the baggage (lacking power, largely decorative). A khaleesi doesn't sit around in a tower wearing a pretty dress waiting to be rescued. A khaleesi sits around in a tower in a pretty dress until she gets bored and whistles for her dragons and abolishes slavery.
I always feel like this is almost exclusively the domain of little boys, but why? What's so gender specific about the idea of being a friend? With all the completely toxic nonsense in the air about girls being backstabbing and catty, the sooner a little girl can see herself (and other women and girls) as a good friend, the better.
Who doesn't like flowers? (Except for my weirdo husband, who is contrary about everything, but that's another story for another day.) They're lovely, they smell nice, and a lot of them are surprisingly sturdy. Also, like my little girl, they love water and dirt, so there's that, too.
4. Li'l Queen
My daughter has always described herself as a queen and we lean into that hard because, OMG, yas, li'l queen, yas! Like khaleesi, this gets in all the positive aspects of "princess" and empowers them. Queens rule, you guys. It's also a nickname that can grow with a person. Being a 30 year old "princess"? I don't know, it's just a little bit weird, TBH. I feel like, in a best case scenario you advance to queen at some point. Why not just start there?
Again, why is this the provenance of boys exclusively? I'm sorry, but do we not have the Williams sisters? Do we not have Aly Raisman? Abby Wambach? Have we forgotten about OG's like Billie Jean King or Flo-Jo? Girls can absolutely be sports. And maybe if you plant the seed early (perhaps casually, say, via a childhood nickname) that, yes, this is something you can be and we will encourage you in it, you'll see more Alys and Serenas and Billie Jeans.
A friend of mine did this with her daughter, specifically because she did not want her child to be called "Princess." So, from the time she was an infant, she referred to her baby as "Doctor P" (her first initial), and not only has it stuck but it's absolutely adorable and I am here for it. Traditional? No, But traditions have to start somewhere and this is one I feel like we can really make happen if we all just believe in ourselves.
They're valuable. They're sparkly. Some people believe they have mystical properties. It's a fun nickname. I fully support it.
8. Mon Chou
Chou (pronounced "shoe") is the French word for "cabbage." But it's also the word for a delicious, cream-filled pastry (if you've watched The Great British Baking Show, you've likely heard mention of "choux pastry"). That's most likely the "chou" that was originally intended for this adorable pet name though, hey, why not call your kid a cabbage? And in many ways, my daughter is like a cream-filled pastry, too : she's sweet, light, and fun. Also "mon chou" is fun to say.
Not only is it a nickname that will make your daughter feel treasured and loved, it just oozes Downton Abbey levels of charm, doesn't it? I feel like you can't say it without at least thinking of a posh British accent, amiright? Like, the two of you can just go ahead and jauntily tilt your matching tiaras as you sip tea from matching china cups.
In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a race of warrior women (the daughter of Ares, god of war, and a nymph named Harmonia). Whether or not they actually existed is the subject of scholarly and archaeological debate, but regardless they are pretty badass. (Wonder Woman is an Amazon! Who doesn't want to be Wonder Woman?!)
This was actually my daughter's nickname in utero on account of her powerful kicks and predicted size (which just so happened to be accurate within ounces) and it's actually pretty cute.
Because she is a champ. Or she will be. At least she could be with this kind of lovely, encouraging nickname. Again, this is almost exclusively given to boys, but I see no reason we can't extend it to our girls.
I mean, mainly so you can say it like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. ("My precioussssssss.") More than 15 years on it still works, somehow.
13. Little Witch
Between The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Harry Potter, American Horror Story: Coven, and the renewed pop culture interest in Hocus Pocus, I feel like witches have been having A Moment for the past few years and I'm absolutely pumped about this. Long reviled as evil-doers, more modern audiences have found feminist heroes in these powerful, intelligent, crafty women (and so what if some of them want to suck the lives out of all the children in Salem?Calm down, pearl-clutchers!).
Birds are cool. Birds can fly. Also, like my daughter, they eat about two times their own body weight every damn day. I think this is a cute nickname for any kid.
It's just funny, that's all. And this is a common one from pre-birth days that can continue once they make their entrance into the world. It's adorable and happens to be gender neutral, so why not?
There's so much the Scottish get right, including but certainly not limited to: perfect accents, kilts, Shetland ponies, the discordant but ultimately awesome sound of bagpipes, and the word "lass." It's no more than a word for "girl" (as "lad" is the word for "boy"), but it just feels so much more delightfully rich than that. I love it and absolutely believe we should use it for everything.