Ask Them Their Names



When I was pregnant and people asked me if I had a name for my baby yet, I told them that I didn’t have a name, but she had one picked out and had let me know years a head of time. It was Phoebe. This is her now:

Phoebe - My Shining Light


She is totally a shining light. When she was four years old she told me she wanted to be a prophet when she grew up.

For several years now I have taught pregnancy yoga, and I am surprised by the number of people who have difficulty naming their children. “Have you asked them?” I would say.  In a pregnancy yoga class where we don’t just squeeze the kegels but also chant mantras and talk to our babies, that didn’t seem like a weird thing to ask. Many women were surprised though. They hadn’t considered asking the baby or that the baby could really tell them.

“Just ask,” I said. To some of them I said it again and again.  “Just listen.”

I gave this advice to one friend, who wasn’t that into spiritual stuff, and she just looked at me like I was crazy. But about 3 months later, she sent me a once sentence message: “She told me her name.”

The story: She was laying in bed and she heard a grown woman’s voice say the name and she knew it was her child. Chills. That friend is much more spiritual now.

There is scriptural evidence that the importance of your child’s name may way deeper than whether they will be teased at school. In the Bible Dictionary, under “Names of persons” it says:

 “The numerous passage of holy scripture in which reasons are given for bestowing a particular name on any person show that the Hebrews attached great importance to the meanings of their names….”

Do you know that the meaning of your name is? Your children’s names?  Is it an aspect of God?

 “In the O.T. special reverence is paid to the name of God, as representing his person and character. In many cases a Hebrew personal name was composed of (1) one of the names or titles of God (2) a verb or adjective, forming together a simple sentence, such as Azar-iah, the Lord hath helped…..” it goes on with more examples.

I recently wrote two posts on the many names/titles/aspects of God and how calling on the right name used in the right context can have more awesome results than using other names. [Read the first post here.]

When it comes to naming our children, it seems that many of them have names already picked out, and if we listen, they will tell us. In fact, these kind of pre-birth announcements are so common that in some cultures there is a name for this sort of thing pre-birth announcement.

Does it really matter if you child is Sofia instead of Grace? Maybe not. But maybe. Names are seed mantras. They plant a seed in your subconscious mind that will take root and grow. Even if a person doesn’t consciously know the meaning of their name, there is a collective unconscious (that we are all tapped into) where it is known. Each time a person says your name or you say it, you reinforce that meaning. Especially if you say it after the words I AM, which is also a name of god, and happens to be (in my opinion), the two most powerful words in the universe, because anything you put after them becomes reality after enough time.

I was at a Gift of Giving Life Party in Arizona and one blunt, hilarious woman flat out said, “I know my 3rd got the wrong name.”


So what if you feel that happened? Or maybe you feel like your name doesn’t suit you?

I say it’s okay. Everything happens as it should. In truth, we are all aspects of God, and our names reflect that. Sometimes a wrong name becomes part of a person’s journey to figure out who they are. I had two ancestors who hated their names and legally changed them.

As divine beings we, like God, have more than one aspect. And as we grow and change we will take on different names and titles and aspects. Brother, sister, husband, wife, friend, teacher, nicknames, aliases, wishful names. Perhaps your daughter (or son) will change their last name when they marry. Oooh. Or maybe they will hyphenate. There is something so cool about a hyphen, the way it marries two words.

And then there are the new names–not just the new name one receives in the temple endowment.  In fact, God frequently renames his servants when they reach a certain level of advancement on the path to fulfilling their sacred contract. I recently received a new spiritual name, and if you want, you can read about it here.

In one culture I read about in the Australian Outback, they don’t celebrate birthdays on the day they were born, they decide when they have been through a significant change in their life and then let the tribe know and everyone celebrates their rebirth. Along with this comes a re-naming of themselves.  By this standard one might have a birthday only once in 5 years and then 2 in a year.  And a new name each time, too.

What has been your experience as you have contemplated what to name your children?

14 thoughts on “Ask Them Their Names”

  1. When I asked my mother why she named me Melissa, she told she just knew that was my name. That was back before routine ultrasounds so she also “just knew” I was a girl. I will admit I did not understand that. I always kind of thought it was a cop out because she couldn’t remember. Until… I became a mother. I have had two very significant naming experiences with my children. One where my older son (3 years old)knew “you’re going to have a baby girl and her name is Ella” My response “what if it’s a boy?” His response “It’s NOT!” He was right. Another where I knew we would have another child, it would be a boy and his name would be Declan. People often ask me how I came up with that name. I had never heard the name before and have no idea how I knew these things… I just did. Then just a week before he was born he let me know the middle name we had picked was not right. After officially naming him, we found out two uncles and his great grandfather have that middle name. We would not have picked the name if we had known this. Apparently his name was very important to him. <3

  2. LOVE this. With my 2nd, we found out about his birth two hours after he was born. We got online and made a short list of 5 boy names and picked one later that night. After we arrived at the hospital two states away the next day, I was rocking him in the nursery for the first time, and just a minute after meeting him, said “oh, sweet baby…WAIT. What is your name?” It was a complete stupor of thought. The only name I could think of was Joshua. But that wasn’t anywhere on the list. I don’t know if it was him talking to me, or the angels, but his name had to be Joshua. And so it is.

  3. I thought naming my daughter was very important, but I didn’t want to give her a “common” name. As a Rachel Marie, I was very very sick of millions of other people sharing my name. I went through several names and ended up finding hers on a bolt of fabric at the store. I didn’t breathe a syllable of it to anyone but my husband, saying I wanted to wait until I held her the first time. But the week before her birth I had a prenatal massage. The masseuse asked what name I had picked out, and I told her I hadn’t told anyone. Later during the massage, she said my baby had told her the name, or at least that my baby liked it and that it started with an “A,” which it does (Avlyn). Since she has been born, I have had many people, even many school teachers, tell me that they have never heard the name before, but that it’s very beautiful. So I reached my two goals, and it’s nice to know that she likes it. But, no, I had never thought about asking the baby about their name. I saw a movie when I was young where some islanders pick their names when they were 5 years old. I wondered what I would have chosen for myself. Most likely not the name I have now.

  4. I totally believe everything you’ve written in this article. I think we need to ask to know what our children should be named. When I was pregnant with my first, we knew it was a girl. Separately (but on the same day), my husband and I were both inspired by the same name, “Sydney”… Later that day when we told the other the name we liked, we were surprised when it was the same name.

    During my second pregnancy (a boy), we couldn’t come up with a name we liked. When I was 8 months along, I had to have emergency surgery. Before surgery I prayed that Heavenly Father would reveal what we should name the baby. The whole time I was under the anesthetic I dreamed about a book I had read. The main character’s name was Rye. When I woke up after the surgery, I kept saying, “I like Ry, I like Ryan.” Up until then, I’d never liked the name Ryan because of previous guys named Ryan that I’d known while I was growing up. Needless to say, we named him Ryan, and the name is perfect.

  5. I have 4 sons- and each of them has a first name that meant something spiritual to my husband and I. We narrowed our name selection to 2 names for my 4th son- Levi or Zimri. Both were names of men who had impacted our lives through their stories- they were men I would hope my son would be like. The day after that sweet boy was born, as I was looking at him I knew he was not a Levi or a Zimri. I hesitantly told my husband the feeling I had and he sighed of relief because he had the same prompting. And so our Levi or Zimri became a Zakias. 🙂

  6. I have had several tell me. I KNEW my 3rd was going to be a boy named Mason months before he was even conceived. Once my pregnancy was confirmed I told everyone from the day the line turned pink that I was having a boy named Mason.

    My best friend thought I was crazy, until she came with me to the u/s in hopes to prove me wrong. But I even told the u/s tech I was having a boy, and he simply confirmed it. The shocked, literal jaw dropped look on my friend’s face was priceless.

    My 7th child I swore was a girl, and at the u/s was shocked to find out it revealed a BOY. 2 years later HE started identifying as a GIRL! She changed her name on her own by age 3 and lives as a girl. I was technically right all along!

    I knew my last baby was going to be a boy named Carter too. I knew 3 years before he was conceived. Once conceived I had about 10 people all smugly tell me I was having a girl. U/S again revealed my little Carter was indeed on his way.

    I know that my last baby (whom we are TTC) will be a girl named Harper Avery. She told me this around the time I was carrying Carter. I’ll let you know how that goes!

    I have 9 children currently and . . .
    I am a “spiritual” Atheist too, BTW.

  7. All six of my kids have given me their names, usually during the pregnancy. Each experience was different, and each was special. After having three boys who each had two middle names, I was conflicted about what to name my daughter. She had given me her name, Kathryn- a great grandmother’s name, years before she came and when I was finally expecting her that name had been used by two cousins. So, I asked her if I could name her Kellie, a name I had liked since high school. She said yes and that her name could be a middle name. Well, I decided that if she was anything like me, she would want two middle names just like her brothers. The name Elizabeth was decided on after another great grandmother. I told her I didn’t want to get any flack from her during her life about her name since I was double checking with her spirit before she was born and she would have 3 names to choose from. 🙂 Then I saw a picture of an American Girl doll with the name Kellie and I knew it looked a lot like my daughter would. And it did. She is now 10 and never a complaint about her name. It has be such a joy and privilege to get to know these precious children before they are born.

  8. I love this post! I know that at least 6 of my 7 children’s names were divinely inspired or given directly to us by our children. The one I’m not sure of I chose just because I liked the name, but that could have been because she wanted it as well. Who knows? I wrote a blog post about choosing the names of my last 3 children, which you can read here: It was also reposted on TGOGL blog on August 20, 2012. There are no coincidences!

  9. All of our boys were named after they were born (a few days after) this allowed me to get to know them. But, with T2 and T3, I knew their first names, not sure exactly how, but I did. But we waited til we met them before we decided.

    Interestingly enough, I wanted a certain middle name, Gideon, for T2 and DH didn’t agree. So we picked Joshua instead. We ended up giving that middle name to T3.

    BUT when T2 wanted a stage name, he picked Gideon and is now known online and on stage as Gideon. That was just confirmation to me , that was supposed to be his middle name.

  10. My baby’s names were “given” to me and/or my husband. It usually took my husband three days after birth to give them names. (Sweet, huh?) Our last baby was most significant because we didn’t find out the gender, but we knew because the name was given to us so early in the pregnancy!

  11. PS. I love Mutant Message Down Under. I’ve read it three times and I often laugh about the “fly” facial.

  12. We had a different name picked out for my daughter even before she was conceived. She was to be Elizabeth (my given middle name). When we found out we were having a girl, I had difficulty bonding with her. Elizabeth…just didn’t seem right.

    About a month before our daughter was born, I kept having visions of calling her “Kate” and “Katie”. When I told my husband, he said that he had been having those exact same visions! I also felt her telling me, “Mom, Elizabeth is a nice name, but it’s not my name.” Once we decided that her name was Kate, I bonded with her so much more easily!

    The first thing my husband said after Kate was placed on my stomach after she was born was, “Are you Kate? You ARE Kate!”

    So, future children will be asked their names while in utero 🙂

  13. Thank you for writing this beautiful post! I found it very insightful as naming our children has always been tricky for me.

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