Tips for Selecting a Name for Your Baby

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Finding the perfect baby name can be a personal matter as well as a challenge. It is important to give your child a meaningful name. You'll want to choose a name that you like and that will be easy for the child to live with. In addition, most parents want to have a name picked out before the birth of their child.

Family Baby Names

The easy choice is naming the child after someone in your family. Children have long been named after fathers, grandfathers, or grandmothers. It has also been popular in the past to make a child's middle name his or her mother's maiden name.

There are positives and negatives to using a family name. Preserving family history is a big positive; you will likely share a lot of stories with the child about the person for whom he or she is named, and the child will likewise pass on those stories as he or she tells the story of where the name came from. If the child is named after a parent, this could create some confusion in the family, but this is often avoided by calling the father by one name and the son by a nickname. Sometimes children will be upset that they don't have their own name. None of these are reason enough not to name your child after a family member if that's really what you want to do.

Picking Names

If you don't know where to start, you can buy a baby book. You can also look at one of the many online sites that help you choose names like Baby Center. At this site, you can provide the chosen origin of the name, the letter it starts or ends with, even the number of syllables. You can also try Baby Names Garden which has a lot of lists, such as Top Names of the 20th century, Victorian Names, unique baby names, and so forth.

You can still start with family names, then add names of friends, people you grew up with, teachers, names you've heard on television or read in books, made-up names, anything that comes to mind. Think about character and personality traits, names of places that are meaningful to you, like where you went on your honeymoon, somewhere you used to live, etc. Consider place names from your heritage as well, or look for names that fit your ancestry. Add the month your baby will be born, the season, the days of the week, its astrological sign.

Popular Names: Boys

Some popular names for boys are:

  • Jacob
  • Ethan
  • Michael
  • Jayden
  • William
  • Alexander
  • Noah
  • Daniel
  • Aiden
  • Anthony
  • Liam
  • Jackson
  • Mason
  • Elijah
  • James
  • Landon
  • Asher
  • Lucas
  • Cole
  • Riley
  • Gabriel

Popular Names: Girls

Popular names for girls include:

  • Isabella
  • Sophia
  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Ava
  • Emily
  • Abigail
  • Madison
  • Chloe
  • Mia
  • Charlotte
  • Addison
  • Lily
  • Bailey
  • Harper
  • Scarlett (See more S names for girls.)
  • Madeline
  • Grace
  • Laila
  • Riley

Paring Down the List

Set your list aside for at least a day. Then sit down with your partner and read through the list.

Read each name out loud and gauge both of your reactions. As you go through the list, think about whether each name is too popular, too difficult to pronounce or spell, and what nicknames might be derived from this name. Consider, too, any reactions you have to a name, positive or negative. You probably won't want to name your little darling the same name as the person who kicked the back of your chair the whole year in second grade or the name of your husband's first girlfriend.

At this point you can also start to consider how you might like to spell a name. There are many variant spellings for a lot of common names, so you'll have to give some thought to exactly how you'd like to spell Ashley (Ashlee, Ashly, Ashely) for example, or if you want a Skyler or Skylar.

The Final Choice

Keep working with this list until you've gotten down to 10 or so names each (or just boy names or girl names if you know the sex of the child). You'll also want to think about the actual meaning of the name, which you can find in a book or any number of places online, such as Baby Names.

Think about a middle name that could go with each first name. Look at those names with your last name. Do the initials spell anything? Do you want your children to all have the same initials or do you want variety?

If there are other children in the family, you can include them in this process so they will feel like they had a part in this big step toward welcoming their baby sibling into the world.

Still Stumped?

If all else fails, make up a name. Just because you've never heard of a child named a certain thing before doesn't mean it's wrong. A baby's name is, in a way, reflective of your personality as parents, what you want for your child and how you view that baby. Yes, it's a tough decision, but if you name the child with love and thoughtfulness, you're sure to pick the perfect name.

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Tips for Selecting a Name for Your Baby