You Have A Deadline For Choosing Your Baby’s Name, & This Is It

by Shannon Evans

For some parents, choosing a name is the easiest part about having a baby. But for many moms, naming little ones is hard work. In the United States, moms commonly feel pressure to bequeath a formal name at the time of delivery, if not before, but in many parts of the world, parents wait much longer. Maybe the pressure is self-imposed and unnecessary. Legally speaking, how soon after giving birth do you have to pick your baby's name? You might have more time than you think.

When William and Kate took two days to announce their firstborn's name, weeks earlier than many Brits expected, National Public Radio (NPR) took the opportunity to clarify the laws about baby naming. In much of the U.K., it turns out, parents have 42 days to register their child's birth and provide a name. So little Junior could be happily hanging out in his bassinet for over a month without a name. Does that take the pressure off a bit?

In the United States, NPR pointed out, things are a bit more complicated because laws pertaining to birth registration are left up to the states and so, they vary pretty widely. Often the birth must be registered within 10 days or less, but depending on the state, parents have up to one year to decide on (or change) a name.

To determine the appropriate laws for registering a birth in your state, ask your healthcare provider or go to your state's website. If you're unsure about which parent's last name, or a hyphenated combo, to give the baby, you're not alone. As more and more millennials are bucking traditional norms, many parents feel the weight of having more options than their parents had.

When parents are married, they usually decide together what their baby's surname will be, but if they are unmarried, it can get complicated. Typically, the selection of the last name is done by the mother, noted Babble, but in most states, there are no rules about it. But heads up: in Florida, the baby is given an alphabetically hyphenated last name if the parents can't come to an agreement on their own.

The point is, there's time. Don't let the selection of a name keep you from joyfully anticipating the arrival of your baby, or from bonding with them after birth. After all, a few days of snuggling and feeding might be the very thing you need to know exactly who they are anyway.