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How to Change Your Baby’s Name
How to Change Your Baby’s Name
Apr 19, 2024 4:17 AM

  So you've already put a name on the birth certificate, but now you're feeling baby name regret. Can you change your baby's name? Of course you can!

  Follow our step-by-step guide to changing a baby name, from navigating the legal process to coping with the emotions of a name change.

  

How Long Do You Have To Change Your Baby's Name?

  Name change laws vary by state. In most states, parents have between five to ten days to submit a birth certificate, which is considered official registration of a child's name.

  If you do not fill out the birth certificate in those first few days, your child is registered with a placeholder name such as "Baby Girl", "Infant", or "Unknown", and an official name change is in your child's best interest.

  Luckily, most states have a grace period of between six to 12 months to change a baby's name without going to court.

  

When is it too late to change your baby's name?

As baby name consultants, we answer this question on a case-by-case basis. Many factors go into this determination, including the child's age, how well they know their legal name, and the similarity of the new name to the old name.

  While most of our name change consultations are for infants, we've assisted with name changes for toddlers and preschoolers up to four years old.

  Earlier is always better, but sometimes name changes happen after the infancy stage. There's no absolute cut-off, but if a child is of preschool age and knows their name well, it's too late to change it to something totally different without their opinion and consent.

  

How to Legally Change Your Baby's First Name

  Changing a baby's name is more common than you think. In a Nameberry study about baby name regret, 8% of parents who felt name remorse legally changed their child's name.

  A legal name change formally recognizes your baby's new name. Your child's legal name will be printed on the Social Security card, and later, their state ID and other official documents.

  Follow these steps to legally change your baby's first name:

  

Changing Your Baby's Name Before 12 Months

In most states, you can amend your child's birth certificate before 12 months without a court order. To do so, you will need to contact your state's Office of Vital Records — a branch of the Department of Health — and request a birth certificate amendment.

  If you have already ordered your child's Social Security card, you will need to fill out a new Social Security card application. You can download the application, visit your local Social Security office, or call their toll-free number, (800) 772-1213.

  

Changing Your Baby's Name After 12 Months

Name changes are processed at the state level, so you'll need to download the name change application for your area. Pro tip: our guide to Name Change Resources is organized by location, so start there!

  Consulting with a lawyer in your state, if it's in your budget, may make the process more efficient, as they will understand the nuances of name changes in your state.

  You will need to fill out a number of forms before officially filing for a name change. This may include a petition to change name, a verification form, a notice of petition, and a court order approving the name change. Some of these forms may need to be notarized by a Notary Public. You can find a Notary Public through your lawyer, bank, or local UPS, among other places.

  If you are filing with your partner or co-parent, both of you will have to sign all of the forms. If you are filing as a single parent, you may need to show proof that you have notified — or attempted to notify — the child's other parent, if their consent is required.

  In some states, you can file for a name change electronically. Otherwise, you will have to visit your local county clerk's office. Remember to keep personal copies of all the paperwork!

  Some states require public notice of your name change request. If this is the case in your state, the court will specify a newspaper in which to publish the notice, which will cost an extra fee.

  Depending on your location, you may have to attend an official hearing for your child's name change. At your hearing, you will submit all of your paperwork, and a judge will review your case and give you a certified copy of the final order.

  If a hearing is not required in your state, a court order approving the name change will arrive a number of weeks after your paperwork and payment are filed.

  After the name change is approved, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration to report the legal name change and apply for a new Social Security card. If you'd like to change the name on your child's birth certificate, you can contact your state's Office of Vital Records. See our section on Changing Your Baby's Name Before 12 Months for more.

  

How Much Does it Cost to Change Your Baby's Name?

The cost to change your child's name varies by state and the age of your baby.

  If you amend your child's birth certificate within the first six to 12 months — the time period that does not require a court order — the name change is $50 or less in most states.

  Changing your baby's name after the first year typically costs more. In Hawaii, a name change includes a $55 filing and service fee, while in California, this fee can be up to $450. If you cannot afford this amount, most states offer a fee waiver for which you can apply.

  View our Name Change Resources to learn more about specific requirements in your state or country.

  

The Emotions of Changing Your Baby's Name

  There's a whirlwind of emotions that comes with changing a baby's name. In a Nameberry study on baby name regret, parents reported feeling shame, anxiety, sadness, embarrassment, guilt, irritation, and more. You may also feel positive emotions during a name change, like happiness, excitement, and relief.

  How do you deal with this emotional rollercoaster? Here are some important things to remember:

  

1. Name changes are normal

Thousands of parents change their baby's name each year, so you are in good company! In fact, your child will likely one day know another kid or two who has gone through a name change of their own.

  

2. Your child will be okay

A name change is not going to hurt your child or leave them with lasting emotional scars. Plenty of well-adjusted children have gone through name changes, and your child can too.

  

3. Everyone else will forget about it

It's natural to be nervous about sharing your baby's new name. Many parents wonder what other people will think and worry about being judged. The best thing to do is bite the bullet and announce the name change. A few months from now, it will be old news. A year from now, most people will have forgotten it ever happened.

  For more tips, check out our guide on How to Announce You've Changed Your Child's Name.

  

4. The name change will become a part of your child's story

This name change is just one piece woven into the story of your child's life. Your baby is so young now, but there are much bigger things on the horizon for them. Trust that in time, the name change will feel less significant.

  If you continue to struggle with emotions surrounding the name change, contact your doctor or a mental health professional for more help.

  

Read next: How to Announce You've Changed Your Child's Name

Go back to the main Name Change Guide

  

About the Author

  

Sophie Kihm

LinkSophie Kihm's Personal Website

  Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top 2020s names, Gen Z names, and cottagecore baby names. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest.

  Sophie Kihm's articles on names have run on People, Today, The Huffington Post, and more. She has been quoted as a name expert by The Washington Post, People, The Huffington Post, and more. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.

  View all of Sophie Kihm's articlesChevron - Right

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