Here’s Why Having Your Baby’s Name Picked Out Before Birth Can Help When You’re In The Hospital

There’s a lot that goes into picking out your baby’s name. It’s such a tough decision that some parents-to-be wait until they’re in the hospital to see if their baby looks more like an Emma or an Olivia before deciding. And while that might work in some instances, a new study has found that having your baby’s name picked out before birth can help ensure that there are no clerical errors that could be catastrophic.

Once your baby is born, a hospital will assign a temporary name to your baby, like Baby Boy or Baby Girl. But when babies are transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), that’s when it can become a problem, according to the Pediatrics study. You see, when generic names are used, it can lead to patient misidentification. (Think about how many Baby Boy or Baby Girl patients one NICU nurse might have, for example.) That could result in anything from administering the wrong medication to even (gasp), a parent taking home the wrong baby.

The Pediatrics study sought to find out how to create more unique newborn baby names as a way to ensure patient accuracy. For example, the new method would incorporate the mother’s first name into the newborn’s name to make the name more distinct—and therefore, decrease the likelihood of wrong-patient errors. So for example, instead of being Baby Girl, your baby might be temporarily named AnneMariesGirl. That way, the new name creates a direct link to the mother, and can help curb confusion, particularly for NICU babies.

Here’s how the study worked: researchers examined patient orders that were placed on one patient, retracted within 10 minutes, and then ordered for another patient within the next 10 minutes. After adopting the distinct naming convention, there was a 36.3% reduction in the number of such events that could lead to wrong-patient errors.

So while you shouldn’t feel pressured into having your baby’s name picked out before birth, (especially if you’re still undecided), make sure that the cute It’s A Boy! or It’s A Girl! sign that the hospital staff puts in your baby’s crib has, at the very least, your first or last name on it. That way, you can ensure that both you and your baby get the proper medical care while you’re in the hospital until you’re able to go home together.

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