8 Percent of Parents Regret Their Baby's Name, Survey Finds

Unscientific survey reveals parent struggle with trendy or overused names.

Oct. 19, 2011— -- It took Kelcey Kintner nine months to conceive her baby girl's name, Presley, but nearly a year of gnawing regret before she changed it.

Kintner, a 41-year-old who blogs about parenting on Mama Bird Diaries, said she and her husband chose the name Presley from a baby book, not as an homage to the king of rock, even though their older daughter's name is Dylan.

"I actually like the name Presley -- I don't dislike the name," said Kintner, who lives in Westchester County, N.Y. "It just didn't feel like her name."

Today at 4, Presley has been legally renamed Summer, inspired by the television teen drama, "The OC," and Kintner said she is satisfied that she finally got her girl's moniker right.

"It's such a difficult thing," she said. "It's hard to name a child before you meet them."

Kintner is one of an estimated 8 percent of parents who got it wrong the first time round, according to a nonscientific survey from the website site YourBabyDomain, which is getting a lot of press attention this week.

Some say that number is even higher. A February survey by the online Baby Center showed 11 percent regretted their name choice.

"It's sort of an awkward thing," said Kintner. "I don't think anyone takes it lightly. But some people are really struggling with it."

Parents in the survey cite a number of reasons for regret, including being influenced by trends (that turned out not to be trendy) or discovering other parents had chosen the same name for their newborns.

The top girl's name from the Social Security Administration in 2010 was Isabella, from the film series, "Twilight."

"In our culture names are more important than ever before, and so parents want their name to be as unique as possible," said Amanda Barden, author of "Baby Names Made Easy."

"If they find one other child has the same name as their baby, they are upset about it," she said. "But parents also don't want their kids to stand out that much. So they make a decision and they regret it because it sounds too whacky."

Experts say that Americans are just more narcissistic. Look at some of the Hollywood baby names: Apple, Sunday, Bronx, Brooklyn and Suri.

Pop star Mariah Carey and her husband actor-comedian Nick Cannon named their fraternal twins Moroccan and Monroe -- or Roc and Roe for short.

"Most of that is part of their own self-image," said Cleveland Evans, a professor of psychology at Bellevue University in Nebraska, who specializes in the science of names, or onomastics.

"People in the movie business or the rock star business see themselves as avant-garde, creative people who are keeping up their own image."

A psychologist, Evans said there are no ill effects for a child under 1. Anywhere between 6 and 12 months of age, children will respond when their name is mentioned.

"But even if they turn, it might just be because they've heard it so much and not at the point where they identify it as 'me,'" he said. "I don't think anyone has to worry about harming the child."

Even school-age children easily deal with having multiple names and nicknames, according to Evans. Teasing takes place, regardless at that age, no matter what the name.

"And if you're the daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow, are you really going to have to worry about a lot of teasing for the name Apple?" he asked.

Evans said most names are harmless.

"I think sometimes parents worry a little too much about it," he said. "Naming your kid things like Mayhem or Trivia or Cobra on the birth certificate are not good ideas. But very few end up with something like that."

You Named Your Child Hitler?

Pity the poor New Jersey child who was called, "Hitler," said Evans. "That child had a problem with his father no matter whether they named him Hitler or not."

Evans, himself, was named for his grandfather -- Grover Cleveland Lively -- who was, in turn, named for a former president.

"My mother might say she regretted what she named me," said Evans. "I grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo and I was called 'Ohio' all the time."

But like most people, Evans' mother didn't actually change his name, she just "brooded about it," he said. "I doubt all 8 percent [in the survey] are upset enough."

Such was the case with writer Alexandra Jacobs, who blogged on the website Babble that she had named her son Seymour -- a name that had "literary overtones" from J.D. Salinger's famous Glass family to investigative writer Seymour Hersh and restaurant critic Seymour Britchky.

"To my surprise, 'Seymour' was greeted not with coos over our cleverness, but furrowed brows, curled lips and snorts of derision," she writes. "And that was just the grandmas."

She was also reminded that the fictional Seymour Glass killed himself, Seymour Krelboyne was a character from the film, "Little Shop of Horrors" and a famous porn star was named "Seymore Butts."

After thinking about changing his name to Issac and calling him "Sy," Jacobs said she "fell in love again" with the original name.

But Kintner, now the mother of four -- Dylan, Summer, Harlowe and Chase -- did legally change Presley's name.

"My husband, along with our family and friends, would call her Presley and I would just bristle in silence," she wrote in a 2009 column in the Washington Post.

The process was time-consuming, up to a year of paperwork.

"After 9/11 they don't make it easy unless you are getting married," said Kintner. "We went to court six times."

"The most awkward part was the family," she said. "People didn't know what to call her."

Today, even Summer knows about her name change and often calls her doll "Presley."

"There's a lot of embarrassment and people feel uncomfortable about it, but I did not regret my decision for one minute," said Kintner. "I look at her today and she is such a Summer. I am so happy that I did it."