After you have a baby, there are a ton of parenting decisions you'll have to make. Many of them, your child will probably have no recollection of when they grow up. But what you name them? That's a decision that will follow them well into adulthood.
You may have a name that's been passed down through generations that you're planning to use. Maybe there was a song or TV show you really connected with during pregnancy, so you're picking something pop culture. Or maybe you're just trying to come up with a name that absolutely none of your child's future classmates will share with them.
Well, before you pick something completely unique and off the wall, you may want to ask yourself "can I legally use this name?" Luckily, we live in the United States where for the most part, we have the freedom to name our children whatever we want. It's not like that everywhere.
In Denmark, parents are encouraged to pick a name off a list of 7,000 pre-approved names and if you don't find one you like, you can submit your idea for approval which could get the green light or be rejected by a local church or government. Iceland and Portugal have similar laws.
Germany has multiple baby-name restrictions, including no use of gender-neutral names. New Zealand doesn't allow names that could be offensive to someone rational or names that look like they represent an official title or rank.
Banned Baby Names in the United States
Like we mentioned, we've got more freedom when it comes to our names but there are a handful of states that restrict things like the number of characters in a name and the use of certain symbols. In many of those instances, those restrictions exist because the database handling birth registrations can only handle letters found on the English keyboard or a finite number of characters. We'll get to Idaho's naming laws in just a second, but first, let's address this so-called list of baby names "banned" nationwide.
There are many sites that will tell you some of the following names are banned for babies in the United States, but the truth is that many of the names legally challenged in court were requested by ADULTS seeking a name change. For example:
When it comes to assuming the name of one of the most beloved holiday icons of all time, it really depends on what state you live in. The rumor that Santa Claus has been banned as a baby in the United States circulates because of a 1999 case out of Ohio where a Santa impersonator wanted to legally change his name to "Santa Robert Claus." A probate court denied the request because they believed that allowing him to have the name year-round would be misleading to children in the community. However, the Utah Supreme Court approved the name change for a Salt Lake City man. A judge in Upstate New York happily approved it with tears of joy in her eyes for another.
We can't for sure say this "name" is banned nationwide, but at least two states said absolutely not. Claiming the digits represented his relationship with nature, time, the universe and nature of life, a North Dakota high school teacher tried to have his name legally changed to 1069. They said no. When he tried again in Minnesota, they also said no. Minnesota's instructions to register your child's birth flat out say that you can't use numeric characters in a name. If he'd wanted to spell it out, he probably could've gotten away with it in Minnesota.
Apparently, some yahoo from California wanted to change his name to the Roman numeral III and pronounce it "three." In the court documents, this request was denied because the roman numerals were a symbol, not a word and was inherently confusing. They compared it to someone wanting to change their name to "Number" but spelling it #. In this guy's defense, his given name was Thomas Boyd Ritchie III and we can only imagine that being "the third" people likely called him three growing up.
So What Are Idaho's Baby-Naming Laws?
According to TheBump.com, you're not getting away with a number as a name in the Gem State either. They say that only letters are allowed in Idaho. The use of special characters such as asterisks is banned.
We tried to verify this against the state code and information on the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare's website but there we weren't able to confirm that, so we reached out via e-mail. Public Information Officer, Greg Stahl, wrote back and told us that the bureau advises against numbers and special characters in baby names because of administrative ramifications of a name containing them. He explained that the Social Security Administration won't accept numbers or symbols when a social security number is request.
He also noted that baby name requests like this are extremely rare.