Picking your baby’s name is a pretty important – their first name is something they’ll bear for life, after all. So it’s not surprisingly that, occasionally, some of us parents who have already picked and registered our baby’s name may decide, on reflection, that we’d like to change it to something else. But are you allowed to do that in the UK – and, if so, how?
Here’s everything you need to know about changing your baby’s name…
Can I change my baby’s name after I’ve registered it in the UK?
Yes, if you decide that you’ve made the wrong name choice for your little one, you can amend the first names (but not surname) on their birth certificate within 12 months from the time the birth was registered.
You do so by going along to your local Register Office (with all the necessary paperwork), as you did when you first registered your baby’s name. You will be charged a fee for the certificate to be amended.
Your child’s first names can be changed only once on the birth register – and they must be changed to the names you’re now using for them or the names they’ve been baptised with.
Only mum, dad or guardian can make the name change. If there’s a baptism involved, the minister who performed the baptism may also be required to provide a form.
What if I want to change my child’s name a year or more after the birth?
You can still do this but, if you’ve decide to change your child’s first name 12 months or more after first registering their name, you will have to apply to do it by deed poll, as you would any other name change.
‘No one could remember it and no one could pronounce it’: one mum reveals why she changed her baby’s name
Mum-to-be Carri Kessler from Maryland, USA, was certain she had the name for her baby girl totes sewn up.
It was to be Ottilie, a name she loved and that was shared by a British friend of hers. So baby Ottilie was born and duly named. So, why, 3 months on, is she now called Margot? Well…
Carri appeared on the Today show to share her story of how little Margot/Ottilie has become the Baby Whose Name Was Changed after her family struggled to pronounced it.
Carri says she and her partner Will began to ‘get cold feet’ as soon as people started asking what their newborn was called – even ‘fessing up that when they were still in hospital, they were ‘just not saying it’.
“We started Googling other names that we should use — like, ‘Is she Hazel? I don’t know!,” Carri says.
The couple decided to throw caution to the wind and stick with the name that they had been so certain on for so long. But even then, they still had some doubts.
“Then the nurse came in and asked what her name was, and we said, ‘Ottilie,'”Carri recals. “And she was like, ‘What?'”
Oh dear… but things were due to get a whole lot more complicated!
When they took baby Ottilie home and introduced her to her wider family and friends, everyone struggled with the name.
(They have, for the record, a toddler son, Harley, who they had no such name remorse over.)
“No one could remember it and no one could pronounce it,” Carri says. “I was like, ‘If you say it with a British accent, it sounds really good!’ And people said, ‘But you’re from Maryland.'”
However, 6 weeks after Ottilie’s arrival, things were no better. Carri’s grandmother even admitted she was writing herself notes to remind her how to pronounce her great-grandaughter’s name. Oops.
“She said, ‘I don’t know how to say her name. I have Post-its all over the house so I can remind myself,'” Carri explained.
And then the biggie: she ended up struggling with the name herself.
“Anytime anyone said her name, I kind of cringed,” she says. “Introducing her made me sweat. And I thought, we’re going to keep having to introduce her! This is going to be a problem forever.”
So Carri felt she had no option but, 3 months down the line, to change Ottilie’s name.
After discussing it with Will – who was in total agreement with her – Carri made the difficult decision to choose Ottilie a new name – much to the huge relief of their family.
“Then we were like, ‘This is so exciting, we can rename her!'” she says. “All we did was talk about names. Is she this? Is she that? I felt like she was anything simple that wouldn’t give me anxiety.”
Carri says she ran their eventual 2 options past ‘799,383 people’ and amazingly, ultimately took the advice from a barista in a coffee shop who suggested Margot.
Carri then set about informing everyone of Ottilie’s new moniker.
“We sent out a mass email,” she says. “It was like, ‘Hey! Remember Ottilie? Her name’s Margot now.”
She says the reaction has been very positive, the transition to Margot ‘mostly seamless’ and that it will not be something they will be hiding from her in the future.
“I honestly think she’ll be like, ‘Why do we have a bench that says Ottilie?’ I feel like it’s a good story for her. It will be part of her lore,” she says, noting that while most people have switched to calling her daughter Margot, she does have a friend who calls her Nottilie — as in, “Not Ottilie.”
“I honestly take her out now so people can ask her what her name is and I can tell them it’s Margot,” she says. “It’s a great thing. It’s really taken a lot of stress out of my life.”
And when Carri asked her British friend how had fared in life as an Ottilie, she got a surprising answer:
“She was like, ‘Yeah my name has been really character-building’, and I was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me that before?!’ I feel like life is character-building. She doesn’t need a character-building name as well.”
We love this story! Our only question is: do you pronounce Margot with or without the T?
We have to say we love both Margot AND Ottilie though ?
Images: Getty Images/Today.com