Baby Names - Tips for Choosing

Some parents have their baby's name picked out before their child is even conceived, while others wait until after their baby is born (and about to be discharged from the hospital!). If you're agonizing over the choices and looking for advice on naming your baby, check out these member tips.

Make it sing:

Michael Taylor Hoffman rolls off the tongue, while Michael Austin Hoffman qualifies as a tongue twister. Consider the cadence, and be careful about combinations that could turn your child's name into a joke. (How long will it take for Savannah Anna to become Savannah Anna Banana?)

Keep it short:

You can save your child a world of future frustration (when he or she's filling out forms and applications, for instance) by going easy on the syllables, especially if your last name is already long or complicated.

Simplify the spelling:

Speaking of sparing your child frustration, consider the way the name will be spelled. Unique spelling might be, well, unique, but your child will face a lifetime of spelling corrections (no, that's J-A-K-U-B, not J-A-C-O-B).

Consider nicknames:

Make sure you're happy with both the long and short versions of your child's name (e.g. Nate for Nathaniel, Katie for Katherine) because he or she may pick up the nickname whether you like it or not.
"My daughter's name is Mia Elizabeth, but she likes to call herself Mimi," says WTE member khm01. "I think I have a little diva on my hands — and she's only 21 months!"

Look at initials:

If you like the way C.J. sounds, Carl Joseph might be a good combo for your baby-boy-to-be. But be careful that the initials don't spell disaster for your child (like Amanda Susan Smith or Steven Owen Barth — oops!).

Honor tradition:

Get creative with the way you use family names and contemplate combining them: his mom is Ann, yours is Mary — welcome little Ann Marie! Use your mother's maiden name, the name of a favorite relative, or a passed-down family name as either a middle or first name.
"This round, we have picked out Jake Neal for a boy (my husband's father and grandfather's middle names are both Neal) and, if a girl, Eva VonD (the Von D comes from my maternal grandmother whose last name was VonDohlen)," writes Emmashaw.

Be original:

There's nothing wrong with an exotic, unusual, or creative name — just be careful about going overboard. Apple Paltrow might get teased for her fruity name, but famous mom Gwyneth probably makes up for it. Think hard before saddling your own progeny with a similar moniker. (Is Grape's mother in the house?)

Consider what's popular:

Often, a parent hears a name he or she likes — the lead character from a TV show or the heroine of a novel — only to discover that, er, everyone else likes that name too. If originality is important to you, check out the top baby name in 2010 to see if your choice shows up (and then choose something else!).

Analyze the meaning:

Parents often choose a name by picking one with a special meaning or association. For example, you may feel so-so about "Bryan" until you learn it means strength and honor. Another source of inspiration is the ethnicity (Celtic, African, Greek, etc.) and/or its historical associations (a president, famous artist, or explorer).
"We named our son Jayden for the meaning behind it — it's a Hebrew name meaning: God has answered your prayers," says WTE user chachymom.

See what fits:

If all else fails, look to your new family member for help. Parents-to-be who can't decide on a name might simply want to wait until their baby is born.
"With [son] Aidan I went through three major phases," says WTE member Gidgetgirl. "First he was Caleb. Then it was Joshua. On the way to the hospital I said 'I really like Aidan' and we went with it after he was born. It just fit."


Matthew UrbanComment