Newborn baby being held and kissed by parents

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BOSTON — A name expert is helping new parents choose monikers for their babies and predicts that 2023 trends will include gender-neutral names and using surnames as first names. Colleen Slagen began offering consultations on baby names in January 2022, following a lifelong “obsession” with them. She now receives up to five requests a day for consultations that cost between $175 and $250.

The 33-year-old undergoes a lengthy process to create a list of either eight or 16 names for her clients. Not only does she help parents name their children, but she also assists couples in choosing a new surname if they don’t wish to take each other’s, and even helps some clients change their names altogether.

Slagen suggests that 2023 name trends will include surnames such as Sutton, Miller, and Brooke. Working as a nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, she shared her passion for baby names in an online video.

“I have been obsessed with baby names my entire life. I spent my whole life preparing for this job – without knowing it existed as an option. I used to read yearbooks, phone books, and baby name books and always enjoyed discussing baby names with friends,” the name expert explains.

As her friends started having children, she began unofficially advising them on names. “I’d get feedback from friends and even their partners, saying that it was very helpful,” Colleen says.

When she went on maternity leave with own her daughter in January 2022, she decided to take a leap of faith. “I bit the bullet and launched my website. It was a slow start, but then in January of this year, I started making TikToks and all of a sudden, it really took off.”

Colleen now receives up to five inquiries a day for her services, which include assisting clients in choosing baby names, new names for themselves, or even helping couples create a new last name when they get married. Her eight-name package costs $175, and her 16-name package costs $250.

She conducts a thorough process to advise clients on the best names to suit their style, taking into account any names parents cannot use because they know someone else with it or because it doesn’t “flow well” with their surname. During consultations, Colleen gathers information through a questionnaire.

“Most people that come to me have already given names a ton of thought already,” the 33-year-old says. “The consultations are pretty in-depth. When someone reaches out, I send them a questionnaire to gather information.”

After the consultation, she sends clients a list of names, along with details on the style, meaning, popularity, and why she thinks it’s a good option for them.

“I also give them feedback on names they’ve already considered,” Colleen adds.

Though most of Colleen’s clients have yet to give birth, she already knows of one baby named after one of her suggestions. As a full-time nurse, her clients need her help around the clock, with some even reaching out from the delivery room. Colleen offers tips and tricks for people searching for the perfect name.

“I think names have become such a hot topic recently because of the rise of social media in particular,” she notes. “There are a few trends I really like right now – with girls we’re seeing a lot of feminine, vintage names like Margot or Eloise. With boys, there’s been a similar trend, but parents are also keener to have nick-namable names like August, which can be shortened to Gus or Augie.”

“There’s also been a rise in gender-neutral surnames being used for first names – which I love,” Colleen continues. “Some of these popular names include Noah, Sutton, Miller, Ellis, or Brooke. I think people like surnames because there’s an endless amount of them to choose from.”

“They’re unique but they’re familiar enough that they don’t sound weird. It’s fun to go through surnames from different origins and meanings to find one to fit the vibe the clients are going for,” the name expert concludes. “I think one thing people are really interested in is how popular a name is. You can easily look up a name on a social security website and see how much it’s been used. Another way to find names is through social media or look at baby-focused companies that name products after kids. Discussion boards are also another great way to find a name.”

A list of potential name trends include:

  1. Vintage names such as Mallorie or Eloise for girls.
  2. Surnames being used for first names such as Sutton, Miller or Brooke
  3. Gender Neutral names
  4. Names that can be shortened to nicknames like August to Gus or Augie

How do you legally change your name?

For couples looking to start fresh with a new last name, the process for legally changing your name can vary depending on the country or state you reside in. However, many regions, especially within the United States, use the same general process.

  1. Choose a new name: Make sure you have a new name in mind that is appropriate and follows any naming guidelines or restrictions in your jurisdiction. Some places may have rules against offensive names, names that are too similar to well-known figures, or names that could cause confusion.
  2. Petition for a name change: Fill out the necessary forms, which typically include a petition or application for a name change. These forms can usually be found on your local government or court website. You may need to provide personal information, the reason for the name change, and any required documentation (e.g., birth certificate, proof of residency, etc.).
  3. File the paperwork: Submit your completed forms to the appropriate government office or court, along with any required fees. The fees for a name change can vary depending on your location.
  4. Attend a court hearing (if necessary): In some cases, a judge may require you to attend a hearing to explain the reason for your name change request. Be prepared to provide a valid reason and answer any questions the judge may have.
  5. Obtain a court order: If your name change request is approved, the court will issue a court order or decree legally changing your name. This document is crucial, as it serves as proof of your new name.
  6. Update your records: With the court order in hand, you will need to update your records with various government and private institutions. This may include:
  • Social Security Administration (if in the United States)
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (for driver’s license or ID card)
  • Passport office (for updating your passport)
  • Banks and financial institutions (for accounts and credit cards)
  • Employers, schools, and professional organizations
  • Insurance providers
  • Voter registration
  • Medical providers

Remember to consult local resources for the specific process and requirements in your area. Additionally, consider seeking legal advice or assistance if you are unsure about any aspect of the name change process.

South West News Service writer Athena Stavrou contributed to this report.

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