HOW TO CHOOSE
THE PERFECT BABY NAME
In our baby naming article, we cover:
And everything else you may not have considered. Let's get started!
While choosing a name for your baby can be a lot of fun, it can be quite pressurizing too.
After all, your child’s going to keep the name you choose for the rest of his/ her life! There are so many things to consider.
While you may not want to be too traditional, if you’re too creative it can lead to teasing on the playground.
We’re living in a time when there are a lot more baby names available than ever before. This should make it easier, but the choice can be overwhelming too.
Where does a parent start when you have to consider meanings, family expectations, origins and even just your partner’s different ideas?
At least you have about nine months to come up with a name!
Enjoy the process and have fun because out of all the things about having a child, this is probably the only thing you have complete control over.
Take note of how you “feel” about certain names. We often associate names with people we’ve known previously, and they generate strong emotions.
You’ll find yourself gravitating towards certain names and feeling repelled by others. At the end of the day, you want to pick a name that you both love, that feels right and that sounds good to you.
The critics, and there will always be some, will just have to get used to it!
Unique Baby Names
Most people pick a name that’s unique but that isn’t too much of an outlier. This is probably the safest way to go.
Look at a list of the thousand most popular names in the US and pick one from near the middle.
That is, look at those around either side of the 500th most popular. In this range you’ll find names that aren’t totally unfamiliar to most people yet are special enough that there won’t be three children in class with the same name as your child.
Most people don’t want a name that’s so popular that it’s in the top ten. Look out for celebrities who’ve just named their babies, because these names will be over-used in the next few years.
Luckily there are lots of baby name generators online as well as articles and advice.
One idea is to use meaningful places for inspiration. Perhaps you and your partner went to Egypt for your honeymoon…Cairo is an interesting baby name.
Maybe he proposed to you in a club named Havana…Inspiration is everywhere.
You may have a name from a favorite movie or book that you’d like to use. Alternatively, there may be someone in history who inspires you or your partner.
Check the Trends
If you want to pick a name that stands apart from the rest, beware of trends.
A few years ago, the trend was for names rhyming with “ee-aah.” We therefore had Olivias, Sophias and Mias in every school corridor.
If you want to be trendy but also a bit different, pick a similar sounding name that isn’t as popular. In this case you could go for Amelia.
Know Your ‘Hood
While the name Noah may rank very high in the country, it may not be so popular in your neighbourhood.
Chat with your local kindergarten teachers and parents of young children and find out which names are popular.
You may choose to use them or avoid them, but at least you’ll know.
Consider the children in your social circle too. Do the names tend to be Biblical, like Adam and Ruth, or more hippie like Storm and Raine?
Try it Out
Many parents don’t want to share their choice of names with family and friends until after baby is born.
However, it’s nice to check out public response to a name. One way for you and your partner to do this is to use the name the next time you order a coffee at Starbucks.
Watch the barista’s reaction carefully. Do they ask you to repeat the name? Do they have problems with spelling it?
You may think Hermoine and Joaquin are beautiful names but they’re difficult for most people to spell.
How much difficulty does the barista have with repeating the name out loud? A name like Penelope tends to get shortened to Penny because it’s not easy to say.
Ask Close Friends
While you may not want to make your name choices public, it may be an idea to share them with a few close friends to get their opinions.
They might see something that you’ve missed. If you haven’t seen the movies, the names Loki and Hannibal may seem appealing, but your friends may spot the problem straight away.
If you want to give your child a middle name, and not everybody does, there’s no need to put quite as much thought into it as you did for the first name. It’s seldom mentioned after the birth announcement in most cases.
The middle name is a useful place to hide that obligatory relative’s name that you’d rather not have used. The middle name can also be useful if you want to have a gender-friendly alternative to an overtly masculine or feminine first name.
If you’ve chosen the very manly Hagan as a first name, you may want to balance it with Jackie as a middle name.
Of course, when adding a middle name, always check that the monogram doesn’t spell something awful, as in Amanda Scarlett Stevenson. That said, Lisa Sophia Denton’s monogram is even worse!
Put Them Together
Once you’ve settled on a first name, put it with your surname and see how they sound together.
If you have a very long or complex surname, consider a short, simple first name.
For example, with the three-syllable surname Patterson, we’d suggest something short like James.
Have a look at the letters that end of the first name and the beginning of the last. Nicholas Anders can sound like Nicola Sanders!
We’d advise you to use the most commonly accepted spelling for your baby’s name.
It will just make life so much easier for your child if people don’t constantly misspell her name or have to be corrected.
Try to avoid extra apostrophes and strange capitalization. Use Desiree, not Desire’; Malasia not Ma’Lasia.
Keep it simple and save your child the hassle of “No, it’s J-A-K-U-B not J-A-C-O-B!”
Names are used in a standard way for email handles.
Most places of work or study use the first initial with the surname, so do check if that is going to work for your chosen name.
Fred Atkins is an okay-sounding name, but his future email will likely be email@example.com.
Not so good.
What About Siblings?
Some people like the new baby’s name to compliment that of an older sibling. You could rhyme your children’s names, like Michelle, Chantelle and Janelle, but once they’re older the girls may not enjoy their names sounding so matchy-matchy.
Try to avoid giving brother and sister similar sounding names. Kids like to be seen as individuals, even if they’re twins. That’s why Simon and Simone are best not used together.
The other extreme is total inconsistency in your children’s names. If you name one child something simple and modern, like Todd, it probably won’t work to name his baby sister Henrietta.
Try the names out together by saying them in a sentence out loud. “Todd and Henrietta, it’s dinner time!” sounds a little awkward compared to “Todd and Ava, it’s time to eat!”
Respect Family Traditions. Or Not!
Your family, or his, may have a long tradition of family names.
Think carefully before choosing to disregard this. It can give a child a sense of belonging and heritage to have a name that goes back for generations.
You could use family names creatively. For instance, if his mother is Anne and yours is Mary, what about naming your baby girl Ann-Mary?
Yes, it can cause problems if the baby’s grandparents object to the name you’ve chosen.
The bottom line though is that they got to name their babies.
This is your baby and you get to name it even if your mother-in-law cries or you - yikes - get disinherited.
If you anticipate having problems, you can always keep the chosen name to yourselves until after the baby is born.
Just name the baby and make an announcement after the birth.
Stay firm in your commitment to the name you’ve chosen. Those involved will hopefully soon get used to it despite being disappointed.
They’ll adore the baby and will start using the name you’ve chosen or will come up with a cute nickname of their own.
If you and your partner share a common ancestry, such as French, you may want to use a French name for your child even though you live in the US.
Making a Decision
We get it - the struggle is real!
Deciding on the perfect name for your little one can be difficult and nobody wants to make a mistake.
Added to that, you probably have a hundred other things to get done like decorating the nursery and scheduling doctors’ visits.
Deciding on a name should be more fun than stress, though.
Think of it as a creative project that you’re tackling together.
So, whether you’re looking for something traditional, picking a very special family name from your family tree or making up your very own brand-new name, chances are that if you and your partner both love it, it will be perfect.