Isn't it funny how after hours spent poring over
baby naming apps, arguing with your partner (you love Juniper, they prefer Jane), and making lists of favorites, most of us wind up using a nickname for our kid 90% of the time? Sprout. Pumpkin. Cupcake. But out of them all, none inspires more opinions than "princess." While many people love it, others find it regressive, limiting, and anti-feminist. Fortunately, if you're one of those people, or you just want to use something more creative, there are lots of nicknames for your daughter that aren't “princess.”
The debate has been ongoing for years now. While some, like
Cinderella Ate My Daughter author Peggy Orenstein, suggest that princess culture leads to "self-objectification" in little girls that persists as they grow up, others suggest that princesses can have a positive effect. In fact, a recent study from researchers at Brigham Young University found that preadolescent girls can actually be empowered by their love of princesses in the long run. Personally, I think that variety is the spice of life. Princesses are fun and inspiring, but so are superheroes, veterinarians, spies, and Princess Superhero Veterinarian Spies. It's cool if a little girl wants to be a princess... as long as she knows that princess is just one of limitless choices.
What we are called becomes an intrinsic part of our identities. And certainly you can do worse than "princess," which conveys being beloved, beautiful, and special. But there
are other fun, unique options for nicknames out there. So, if you’re brainstorming what to call your daughter, here are 20 nicknames for daughters other than “princess.” 1 Khaleesi
Granted, since the series ended and Daenerys became a monster, this one might not hit the way it once did. But I, for one, just like to pretend the last season of
Game of Thrones never happened, so that makes Khaleesi still OK!
It's a nice royal alternative, I think. It conveys all the good things about “princess” (special, honored), but none of the baggage (lacking power, largely decorative). A Khaleesi doesn't sit around in a tower wearing a pretty dress waiting to be rescued. A Khaleesi sits around in a tower in a pretty dress until she gets bored and whistles for her dragons.
I always feel like this is almost exclusively the domain of little boys, but why? What's so gender specific about the idea of being a friend? With all the toxic nonsense in the air about girls being catty, the sooner a little girl can see herself (and other women and girls) as a good friend, the better.
Who doesn't like flowers? (Except for my weirdo husband, who is contrary about everything, but that's another story for another day.) They're lovely, they smell nice, and a lot of them are surprisingly sturdy. Also, like my little girl, they love water and dirt, so there's that, too.
Again, why is this the provenance of boys exclusively? I'm sorry, but do we not have the Williams sisters? Do we not have Aly Raisman? Abby Wambach? Have we forgotten about OGs like Billie Jean King or Flo-Jo? Girls can absolutely be "sport." And maybe if you plant the seed early (via a childhood nickname) that, yes, this is something you can be and we will encourage you in it, you'll see more Alys and Serenas and Billie Jeans.
A friend of mine did this with her daughter, specifically because she did not want her child to be called "princess." So, from the time she was an infant, she referred to her baby as "Doctor P" (her first initial), and not only has it stuck, but it's absolutely adorable and I am here for it
. Traditional? No, but traditions have to start somewhere, and this is one I feel like we can really make happen if we all just believe in ourselves. 6 Champ
Because she is a champ. Or she will be. At least she could be with this kind of lovely, encouraging nickname. Again, this is almost exclusively given to boys, but I see no reason we can't extend it to our girls. Girls should definitely be instilled with confidence to be a champion just as much as boys.
My daughter has always described herself as a "little queen," and we lean into that hard because, OMG, yas, lil queen, yas! Like Khaleesi, this gets into all the positive aspects of "princess" and empowers them. Queens rule! It's also a nickname that can grow with a person. Being a 30-year-old princess? I don't know, it's just a little bit weird, TBH. In a best case scenario, you advance to queen at some point. Why not just start there?
They're valuable. They're sparkly. Some people believe they have mystical properties. “Gem” is such a fun and cute nickname because it brings with it the idea of something bright, shining, and cherished — which is exactly what daughters are. I fully support it.
9 Mon Chou
chou (pronounced "shoe") is the French word for "cabbage,” but the phrases mon chou and mon petit chou, meaning “my cabbage” and “my little cabbage” respectively, are affectionate French nicknames given to someone you care for and love. And choux, which sounds the same, is also the word for a delicious, cream-filled pastry (if you've watched The Great British Baking Show, you've likely heard mention of "choux pastry"). In many ways, my daughter is like a cream-filled pastry, too: She's sweet, light, and fun. Also, "mon chou" is fun to say. 10 Birdie
Birds are cool. Birds can fly. Also, like my daughter, they eat about two times their own body weight every day. I think this is a cute nickname for any kid. It gives the image of a sweet little bird flying with freedom and singing to its heart’s content. And every young girl should grow up believing that she has the ability to spread her wings and fly — metaphorically, of course.
Not only is it a nickname that will make your daughter feel treasured and loved, it just oozes
Downton Abbey-levels of charm, doesn't it? I feel like you can't say it without at least thinking of a posh British accent. The two of you can just go ahead and jauntily tilt your matching tiaras as you sip tea from matching china cups. 12 Precious
I mean, mainly so you can say it like Gollum from
The Lord of the Rings. ("My precioussssssss.") More than 20 years out from when the first movie premiered (and more than 65 years since the books were published), it still works. Calling your daughter “precious” will make her believe that she truly is precious and one-of-a-kind. 13 Little Witch
WandaVision, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Harry Potter, and the renewed pop culture interest in witches have been having a moment for the past few years, and I'm absolutely pumped about this. Long reviled as evil-doers, more modern audiences have found feminist heroes in these powerful, intelligent, crafty women (so what if some of them want to suck the lives out of all the children in Salem? Calm down, pearl-clutchers). Hocus Pocus, 14 Bean
Somehow this nickname is both funny and endearing, maybe because it makes you think of how small your little girl really is in her first few years of life. This is a common one from pre-birth days that can continue once they make their entrance into the world. It's adorable and happens to be
gender neutral, so why not? 15 Lass
There's so much the Scottish get right, including (but certainly not limited to) perfect accents, kilts, Shetland ponies, the discordant but ultimately awesome sound of bagpipes, and the word "lass." It's no more than a word for "girl" (as "lad" is the word for "boy"), but it just feels so much more delightfully rich than that. I love it and absolutely believe we should use it for everything.
16 Sweet Pea
If the French can call their loved ones after cabbages, then we can call ours after a plant, too. A sweet pea is deceivingly not a vegetable, though — it’s actually a lovely blooming pink flower. And just like the flower, any daughter nicknamed “sweet pea” will be the absolute sweetest, cutest, and universally adored.
Now that we’re on the flower train, here’s my case for “sunflower” as a nickname for daughters. “Sunflower, Vol. 6” by
Harry Styles, anyone? That can be her instant soundtrack. Sunflowers are bright and effervescent, which are lovely traits to instill in your daughter. And you can even use “sunny” for short! 18 Smiley
Fun fact: The nickname “smiley” is actually what sparked the use of the name Miley of the Miley Cyrus we all know and love (her original name was actually Destiny Hope Cyrus). This nickname is perfect if your little one has been grinning and cheesin’ from basically day one. Who doesn’t love the aura of a radiant smile?
“Goldie,” or even the more straightforward “golden” (the title of yet another
Harry Styles song, sorry), is a nickname to represent the absolute shine and royal worth your little one has. It will help instill in them that they should always strive for the best and go for gold whenever they can. Maybe you will even have a future Olympic gold medalist in your midst because of this nickname. 20 Rockstar
“Rockstar” is another one of those archetypes almost always given to boys and men, but girls and women can most definitely be rockstars, too. By calling your daughter “rockstar,” you’ll bring her up with a sense of rock and roll. Fair warning, don’t be surprised if one day she asks you if she can have a guitar or drum kit.
No matter what you choose, any nickname for your daughter is sure to remind you of the best parts of her personality. She’ll know she’s cherished and adored, and you’ll have a sweet pet name to call her (and eventually annoy her with) throughout her life.
Study referenced: Coyne, S. M., Linder, J. R., Booth M., Keenan-Kroff, S., Shawcroft, J. E., and Yang, C. (2021). Princess Power: Longitudinal Associations Between Engagement With Princess Culture in Preschool and Gender Stereotypical Behavior, Body Esteem, and Hegemonic Masculinity in Early Adolescence. Journal of Child Development, 92(6), 2413-2430. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13633 What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
This article was originally published on
April 17, 2019