I think that this is awful advice. Consider the following:
Scenario #1: Claimed But Unused
Imagine that you and your significant other are having a boy and decide that you both love the name Noah. You announce the name to your family and your younger sister has a fit because Noah has been her name since she was 15 and she claimed it and how dare you! Yes, your sister may have claimed Noah, but that does not guarantee that she will ever really use it. There are too many unknowns:
- maybe her SO will hate Noah
- maybe she will only have girls
- maybe her kid's last name will be Ochoa
- maybe she won't have any kids
- maybe her taste will change
Rule #1: First born, first dibs on names.
Scenario #2: But That's MY NAME!
I know plenty of women who have "claimed" a name (sometimes multiple names) and are very hurt when close friends use those names. Most of the time, the names are very common. Frankly, I just can't see the point in arguing over who thought of Emma or Jack first. There are a bajillion Emmas and a zillion Jacks, so you'd better get used to sharing.
On the other hand, I can see how it might hurt if you feel like you came up with a special, unique name and then felt it had been stolen. Solution: keep your unique name to yourself. That way, if someone uses it before you get the chance, you will know it is pure coincidence, not malice.
Announce your baby name choices early on. If you have an absolute favorite name you’re sure you will use, don’t make a secret of it. Planting it in everyone’s mind as “your” name can help avoid problems later.This is a terrible, terrible idea. If it's a common name, you can't own it, so don't try. You're going to look like selfish twit if you try to act like Bella is your own personal property. If it's an uncommon name, drawing attention to it is playing with fire. Chances are that your sister/cousin/fried never would have considered Wilfred if you hadn't brought it up.
Rule #2: No one owns a name.
Scenario #3: Honoring Grandma
One circumstance that can be a little tricky is the beloved family name. Maybe you have a dear grandmother named Matilda. You and your sister-in-law get pregnant within weeks of one another and independently decide to honor Grandma Tillie. Don't bother fighting over who was closer to Grandma — you all have the right to honor someone you loved (and it doesn't hurt that her name is back in style!). I don't really think it's a problem for cousins to share a name, especially if that name is honoring a beloved family member. If it really bothers you to have two Matildas, you can divvy up the nickname territory or use Matilda as a middle name or use Grandma's middle name. But please don't follow Nameberry's advice by announcing all this publicly — a private conversation between the two sets of parents is best. And remember that you are all trying to show your love for Grandma, so please be generous.
This actually was a concern for me when my daughter was born. My same-age cousin's girlfriend was due just 6 weeks after I was, and it was possible that we would both use a version of our beloved grandfather's name (especially because my cousin is also named after my grandfather). My husband and I didn't share our daughter's name with anyone else in the family before she was born, but we did talk to my cousin and give him a heads up. Turns out they weren't considering that name at all, but if they had been, it wouldn't have changed our decision. And, most importantly, we did not conduct this conversation over Thanksgiving dinner.
Rule #3: Be discreet. Generosity wouldn't hurt either.