More time and emotional energy is spent on selecting a name than choosing the right car seat or crib- and rightfully so. It’s probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your child. Talk candidly with your spouse or partner about what names the both of you prefer before the baby arrives. Family and friends may want to share their opinions and suggestions. Remember it’s your decision to make, and you can also choose to reveal your name choice after the baby is born
Below are some tips to help when choosing a name.
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Tip 1: Partner Discussions and Veto Power
Have in-depth discussions with your spouse or partner very early on regarding baby names you both like and dislike. Make sure you are both on the same page.
Though it can make the process take longer, giving both of you veto power over names can avoid conflict and disappointment in the long run. Some couples even make long lists of possible contenders and slowly whittle them down together over time.
Don’t make any assumptions about name preferences – have honest conversations. Compromise is key because this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make together!
Tip 2: Prepare for Opinions from Family and Friends
Expect lots of input from well-meaning family and friends when it comes to baby name ideas. Everyone will have suggestions for you! However, while it’s fine to listen politely, remember that ultimately this decision is for you and your partner alone to make. If you have your heart set on a name, don’t let others dissuade you. Share your choice after the birth or keep it private up until baby arrives to avoid excess judgment.
Tip 3: Will the Name Grow With Your Child?
One of the most important factors in choosing a baby name is ensuring it will suit your child from birth through adulthood. Adorable nicknames like “Boo-Boo” are fine for a baby but not necessarily for a 30-year-old lawyer. Look for names with depth that age well.
Whimsical or flashy trends may not stand the test of time. You want a name your child can grow into and own through every phase of life.
Tip 4: Consider Any First, Middle, and Last Name Combinations
How many names will you give your child? In many cultures, babies are given long first names or multiple middle names to honor relatives. Hyphenated first names are also popular.
Just be sure to avoid unfortunate initials when using multiple names. Check how initials spell out and make sure they don’t spell anything undesirable (e.g., Patrick Irving Green).
Consider the overall length as well when pairing a first and last name as well.
A good rule of thumb is to have one-syllable first names with multi-syllable last names (John Morganstern, for example) or a multi-syllable first name for a one-syllable last name (Samantha King). Pronounce it a few times to see if it’s audibly pleasing.
Tip 5: Don’t Forget Nicknames
When considering all baby name options, look at common nicknames associated with the names and make sure they are positive. For example, Richard becomes “Dick” and Barbara turns into “Barb.”
Also, try to avoid using a nickname as a legal name; your child will have to continually explain that his first name really is “Stevie” and not “Steven.”
Tip 6: Say it Out Loud!
Once you have name contenders lined up, say them out loud, over and over in different tones and contexts. Have your partner say them as well, envisioning calling the name affectionately and also yelling angrily. Does the name flow off the tongue? Is it pleasing to the ear? Make sure it sounds right aloud before cementing your choice. Call the name across a park. Sing it gently. Shout it loudly!
Tip 7: Test it Out First
If you remain undecided between a couple top names, go a step further than just saying them out loud, try them out for a while before birth.
Refer to your baby with the potential names. Call pets or dolls by the names and see how it feels saying it. Ask young children in your life which names they like best for the baby as well. Get input from others and ask them to use the name, but make the final decision based on your own gut feelings.
Tip 8: Consider Popularity or Uniqueness
Skim through the top 100 baby name lists to get a feel for current popular names. While classic or trendy names can be nice, also consider names outside of the top 10 or 20 to make your baby’s name more unique. Obscure names with odd spelling should also be avoided, but you can look for uncommon names with traditional spellings. Many parents now gravitate towards names outside the Top 100. Check your state’s names database as well.
Tip 9: Do Some Research
Today’s parents put a lot of weight on what names mean and where they originate from. Do your research! There are endless online databases and baby name books that let you look up the background and meanings behind potential names from different cultures. Finding a name with significance to your family or heritage can be very meaningful. Make sure to also vet any unfortunate meanings associated with a name as well.
Tip 10: Honoring Family Names
Look back into your family tree on both sides for naming inspirations that pay homage to relatives, especially deceased loved ones. Honor a beloved grandparent or great aunt by using their first or middle name. But be cautious of any Jr/II/III suffixes which can cause legal confusion. Also vet any old family names for outdated meanings or terms that aging poorly before reusing.
Tip 11: Don’t Forget Gender Considerations
If you choose not to find out your baby’s sex until the birth, considering gender-neutral, non-binary names can make sense. Names applicable for both a boy and girl allow more flexibility.
However, some distinctly masculine or feminine classic names clearly align to one gender more than the other. Keep gender association in mind, and use that how you see fit depending on your preferences.
Tip 12: Consider Cultural/Religious Associations
Look deeply into names from your cultural background or religious/spiritual traditions that hold deeper meaning for your family. Consult relatives still in touch with your heritage for the most authentic names. Be thoughtful about respectfully using names from cultures outside your own as well. Avoid anything that comes across as cultural appropriation.
Tip 13: Find Surprising Baby Name Inspirations
Look for hidden name inspiration in your hobbies, favorite books or movies, travel destinations, languages you speak, foods you love, songs/artists you enjoy, colors, nature themes, and more. Make a meaningful connection to your passion. But be cautious of names too directly linked to pop culture that may not age well.
Tip 14: Review the Current Vintage Comebacks
Many old-fashioned names from past generations are cycling back into popularity again. Long-ignored classics like Pearl, Flora, Millie, and Nellie for girls and Arthur, Hugo, Franklin, and Otis for boys are getting refreshed as retro names that still feel modern.
Dust off Grandma and Grandpa’s generation for naming ideas.
Tip 15: Still Unsure? Ask for Opinions!
If you and your partner are still undecided after researching and make pro/con lists, ask for some outside opinions from people you trust – just take them with a grain of salt. Survey friends, family members, coworkers and see if any fresh ideas come up that spark inspiration.
But remember, it’s your child and your choice!
Tip 16: Google it
Are there any questionable associations with a particular name? If there is a notable person, place, event or thing with the same name there could be consequences for your child later on. For example, there will be negative consequences for naming your son Charles when your last name is Manson.
Googling the name is a good idea to make sure there aren’t any surprise associations you didn’t know about.
Tip 17: Trust Your Parental Instincts
At the end of the day, upon hearing that perfect baby name, most parents just know in their gut that’s “the one”. After all your brainstorming and research, your instincts will guide you. That lightning bolt of inspiration can come at any moment. Stay open-minded and creative and your baby’s name will come to you!
For even more naming ideas and inspiration, check out the following baby name articles:
Now that you’re armed with inspiration and guidance, it’s time to confidently choose the ideal name for your little bundle of joy. Happy name hunting!