Do You Have To Name Your New Baby Right Away? An Expert Explains

All new parents are different when it comes to naming their babies. Some couples, like my husband and I, have had baby names picked out for a boy or a girl for a while now — and we are still trying to conceive. There are others who are more free-spirited, who want to see the baby and hang out with them for a bit first to see what their name should be. But how long do you have to decide? Do you have to name your baby right away after they’re born? How does the entire process work?

It's important to know what exactly is on a birth certificate other than your baby's full, legal name. The certificate will include your full name, your maiden name (if that applies), the date and place of your birth, and your social security number, as well as the father's full name, date and place of birth, and his social security number, according to West Tennessee Women's Center's website.

But apparently you don't have to fill out the name portion of that certificate as soon as you think. OB-GYN Lakeisha Richardson tells Romper you don’t have to name your baby immediately after they’re born, and the timeframe depends on what type of birth you’ve had. “Usually, for a vaginal delivery, you may have 24 to 48 hours to name your baby before the mom is discharged home. If you have a C-section, you may have up to 72 hours to name your baby prior to being discharged home."

But yes, it is possible to leave the hospital without a name. You should just expect a phone call from an official from the State Department of Health since you didn’t complete your paperwork, Richardson says. And unfortunately, this option can be pretty tough to deal with, as it's costly to have to add to the birth certificate after you already leave the hospital.

If you have a home birth, you’re responsible for contacting your State Department of Health to apply for a birth certificate to fill out. However, everyone knows how long things take in the mail from the government, so maybe this will give you some leeway to see whether your baby is an Ashley or more of a Victoria.

Picking a baby name is tough, especially since it's so permanent. What if you and your husband can't seem to decide on one? There's always picking names out of a hat or randomly selecting names out of a baby book by closing your eyes and pointing. If that thought scares you, perhaps take turns in naming each of your children, or if you're only planning on having one, include your partner's pick as a middle name, or first name, depending on the flow. Old reliable standbys, like naming your child after family members, are still popular, and when all else fails, just name your baby after yourself. (I mean, who's cooler than you?) Pampers also has a baby name generator if you really want to make the baby-naming process fun.

Whether you’ve had your special baby name picked out since you were 10 years old, or you want to wait and see what name fits your new baby best, you have some options for how long you have before making that final decision. Just remember, the name you pick will be with your baby for the rest of their life — no pressure. But if you want to name your kid Tree Stump, no judgement, just make sure you fill out the proper paperwork and birth certificate before the state department comes to get you.