7 Steps to Picking the Perfect Baby Name
You get to name a human being. Who will be called what you decide for decades upon decades. No pressure! Here’s how to make sure you’re choosing just the right one.
1. Consider Whether There Are Any Rules You Need to Follow
Maybe you need to name your child after someone who’s deceased, or want to use a saint’s name or a family name, or you want a name within a particular cultural tradition. If there’s anything like this in your life, it won’t take long to think about what they might be, but think about them for real. Are they rules you’re willing to break? Under what circumstances? OK then, does your partner agree?
2. Decide Who Will Decide If You Can’t Agree
“It’s a common dilemma,” says Sherri Suzanne, founder of My Name for Life, a baby name consulting service (yes, that’s a real business!). “For some couples, the answer is easy: One parent gets the final say on the baby’s name; the other is in charge of a different decision,” she says. (Mom is often the one who wins final choice.)
“The reality is that it’s often not that easy,” she adds. In that case, she’ll advise parents to figure out what kind of disagreement they have. If it’s stylistic (traditional versus unusual), you can search for names that walk the line (like “a rarely used classic name,” Suzanne says). If it’s emotionally charged issue — like whose side of the family to honor — you may need to find a neutral first name, and a compound middle name.
3. Look At Baby Name Books and Make Lists of the Names You Like
Maybe you’ve been perusing these books since you first started dating the future other parent of your child. But now this is getting real, and you need to start narrowing that list. Make separate lists, if you must, and then proceed.
4. Stop Caring If It’s Too Popular or Too Unique
“There is no shame in loving a name that is well established,” Suzanne says. “At the same time, there is nothing to fear about selecting a very original name if it is flattering and ‘user-friendly.'” Children can thrive either way, she says. (Consider…Dusty Rose?)
5. Think About What Your Child’s Email Address Might Be Someday
If your child is given an name with the first initial-last name convention, you could be in trouble if their name is Cadence Ruddy or Max Oron, Suzanne says. It’s about making sure you’re not setting your kid up for trouble. But know this, Suzanne says: “While I firmly believe it is a parent’s responsibility to avoid names that form jokes, rhymes, puns, or strong negative associations, they cannot protect a child from every possible adulteration of his or her name.” In other words, worry a little about future mean kids, but don’t let them decide for you.
6. Say Your Favorites Out Loud With “No” 15 Times In 15 Minutes
Because you will be doing that. A lot. But also just ask yourself: Do I like saying this name? “It sounds simple, but you will be saying it all the time,” Suzanne points out. Another good out-loud test: Write the name down and ask other people to say it — are they saying it right? No? That’s what your child will be dealing with for the rest of his life.
7. Accept the Fact That Not Everyone Will Like It
By this point, you’ve probably narrowed your list down, and you’re running your favorites by people you love. Or the UPS driver and the woman at the nail salon. Whoever. It’s very exciting! But Suzanne warns against putting too much stake in this: “Names are like art; we can’t expect everyone to love the same movie, painting, or music. Fortunately, a name, like a song, grows more comfortable the more it’s heard.” Ultimately, only you can make the final decision — and you have to come up with something, lest you want to be calling your child “Baby 1” for the rest of its (and your) life. Welcome to parenting!
Follow Redbook on Facebook.
- 1 1. Consider Whether There Are Any Rules You Need to Follow
- 2 2. Decide Who Will Decide If You Can’t Agree
- 3 3. Look At Baby Name Books and Make Lists of the Names You Like
- 4 4. Stop Caring If It’s Too Popular or Too Unique
- 5 5. Think About What Your Child’s Email Address Might Be Someday
- 6 6. Say Your Favorites Out Loud With “No” 15 Times In 15 Minutes
- 7 7. Accept the Fact That Not Everyone Will Like It