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Here's why for some parents, baby names are all about the nickname

In the baby-naming game, some parents start with the nickname and work backwards.
/ Source: TODAY

What’s in a nickname? For lots of parents, it’s actually the key to what’s on their baby’s birth certificate.

Take the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, for example, better known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They announced Wednesday that their new royal baby's name: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

The couple wasn't bound to the same name restrictions as other royals, and so could choose to call their newborn son whatever they liked.

And what they liked was a nickname.

Lauren and Margarito Torres, a Chicago couple with careers in the medical-insurance field, who had their first child in September, made a similar choice.

Once they knew they were having a girl, they were certain they’d call her Isa (pronounced “eesah,” with a long e and soft s), inspired by Salma Hayek’s character in “Fools Rush In,” a rom-com they watched when they first began dating.

But what they would name her was still up in the air.

“We love the name Isa,” Lauren told TODAY Parents. “But we also wanted to give our daughter a longer, more formal name.”

Lauren and Margarito Torres picked the nickname Isa for their daughter before choosing the formal name, Luisa.Courtesy of Nellie Gould

They waited until she was born on Sept. 7 to choose between Luisa and Isabel. In the end it was Luisa Christine Torres.

“But to everyone, she’s baby Isa,” said Lauren. “It’s simple, short and pretty. When she’s older, if she wants to use her longer name, she can.”

Going the nickname-first route when naming a baby is a popular path, according to Pamela Redmond Satran, an editor and founder of

“We’re seeing a lot of parents who decide on a name because they have a nickname in mind,” Satran told “So parents start with the nickname and work backward.”

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Satran speaks from experience. Her 29-year-old son Joe is officially a Joseph, a name she deems “old-fashioned and formal.” On the other hand, Joe, she told, “is warm and friendly.”

“I come from a long line of Joes — my father and grandfather were both named Joe — and I named my son Joe too, partly in honor of them but mostly because I love the name,” she said.

While the popularity of nicknames suggests a casual vibe, it’s really about what parents love.

Brooklyn journalist Catey Hill, 38, and husband Jay Robert, 40, a lawyer, took the nickname-first path for 7-month-old son Ike, whose formal name is Leon Isaac Robert. That middle name was specifically chosen because, well, they like Ike. A lot. “The nickname definitely came first in our case,” said Hill.

The couple took the nickname-as-the-real-thing route for 3-year-old daughter Edie. (Simply Edie, not Edith.)

“We just like the names,” Hill told TODAY.

Remy was the nickname chosen by Esther and Nitzan Raphael.Courtesy of the Raphael family

Sometimes a nickname as a name can be a preemptive strike against future nicknames. Which is how Esther Raphael, 38, who lives on Long Island and works in marketing, and her husband Nitzan Raphael, have an 8-month-old son, Remy.

“I love the Hebrew name Rahm. It’s such a strong name,” she said. “But I knew people would call him Rahmy. I just don’t like that. So I went with Remy.”

Esther and Nitzan Raphael with children Remy and Siena courtesy of the Raphael family.Courtesy of the Raphael family

Bottom line, said Satran, “People are more and more aware of the power of the nickname.”