Baby Names - How to Choose A Baby Name

by thefont

Looking for the perfect name for your new baby? A guide to choosing the right baby name including all the pitfalls and traps to avoid.

Where To Start When Naming Your Baby?

When I was younger I believed I knew what my children would one day be called. "Thomas," because that was the name of my much loved father who died when I was a child and "Lucy," because that was the name of my best friend.

Then, life got in the way.

Firstly, I had only daughters, so Thomas was out of the window. Secondly, my younger sister had a daughter before me and named her Lucy.

All this meant that my long treasured baby names were useless and I needed to find some new ones. So, not knowing where to begin, I trudged off to the shops, and bought a couple of baby name books. Only then did I realise just how hard this was going to be. Suddenly, I had a sense of the scale of what was facing me.

 Naming someone, choosing a word that they had to see and say hundreds of times a day for their whole lifetime, seemed such an enormous responsibility. I was utterly overwhelmed. So, I started a process of reducing the possibilities- reading through the lists with my partner, scoring through the immediate "no's" of which there were a surprisingly large number. This left me with about 20 names which formed the basis of a shortlist. The problem was, even armed with a shortlist, I really didn't know where to go from there. After a lot of research I found out an awful lot about choosing names, which I have tried to summarise below. I hope you find it useful so that your journey to choosing a name for your new baby can be a happy and exciting one.

Things To Consider

Whilst nobody can tell you what the perfect name is for your child, there are some general principles that everybody should consider. 

Does It Go?

Every name consists of multiple parts. The christian name- which we as parents get to choose, possibly a middle name, and a surname- which we either marry or inherit.

One of the very first things to consider when choosing a baby name is whether the Christian Name and surname go well together. Nobody wants "Ben Dover" as their name, however amusing some people might find it.

The Initials

Similarly, check the initials and what they spell. This is something easily forgotten, yet something that could affect your child their whole life. If you find a Christian Name that you love, ensure that the middle name that you choose is something that makes sensible initials when the whole name is used. Also, not only check that it doesn't make a word from the initials, but that it also doesn't spell a word with only vowel missing- this could also cause your child much angst in future years. 


Consider which names are currently the most popular. In my case I refused to use any of the names that were in the top 10 girls or boys names for that year unless they were classic names. Think carefully before choosing a fashionable baby name. Something that seems very fashionable now won't in 20 years and may even become embarrassing for your child.

Are You Looking For A Name For..

Celebrity Names

Names either of celebrities or of their children are something else you should try to avoid unless you are absolutely certain that it will not have any future implications for your child.These kind of names are often extremely popular for a couple of years and then fall out of favor quite suddenly leaving children with a name that may even seem an embarrassment.


Also, think about what the name you choose means.

Many people don't know the meanings of names so it is useful to get a book and quickly check, this way there won't be any nasty surprises later. 

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Brand Names

If you choose to name your child after your favorite type of car, handbag, or other brand please think carefully about what the connotations of that might be in later life.

Place Names

Some people like to name their babies after where they were born or conceived. Often this can make a great name. I once had a friend named "Stratford" after his birth at Shakespeare's birth place, but there are masses of other beautiful place names that can be used as baby names. Of course, you may wish to think twice if your daughter is born in Vegas...


Recently there has been a trend for parents to choose a commonly used name and change the spelling to make it more unique. Please think carefully before doing this as to whether that "uniqueness" is worth it given the difficulties that this may cause your child throughout their life.

I have a name that needs to be spelled every time I give it, and it has frustrated me immensely over the years.

Both Love The Name

This is a name that you will be using for many, many years so make sure that you BOTH love it. My sister-in-law, currently pregnant, wants a name that my brother hates. She has told me that she is waiting until just after the birth when he is full of gratitude to her for all that she has gone through during the birth to persuade him to use the name she likes.

Personally I think this is a bad idea. It is much better if you can find a name that you both love. Not only will it avoid conflict but it will mean that it is a joy for you to both use and tell people about.

Name Your Baby!
Name Your Baby!


Try to think what your babies name will be shortened to. Make sure you love the shortened version of a name too because however much you may try and stop it it is likely that this is the name that will be used for your child during their lifetime. 

Gender Specific Names

Try not to use names that are usually used for a child of the other gender. You may love the name and be desperate to use it, but something as simple as this can be the basis for years of unnecessary bullying.

Use The Name Of Someone You Love

One way to choose a name is to use the name of someone you love. Not only will you have happy associations with the name but the person whose name it is will probably be honoured that you have called your child after them. However, please see the celebrity section above if the person you love is famous!

A Name For Life

When picking a name remember that although you feel like you are choosing a baby name what you are also choosing is the name for a man or a woman. Check to make sure that the name you choose would not only be suitable for a child but also be suitable for an adult with a professional career. Who knows what life your child may want to lead?.

Keep It Fun!

Although choosing a name can be quite stressful, try to enjoy it. Choosing a name for the new person in your life is something fun. You can even ask everyone you know for their suggestions although feel free to ignore them!

When To Tell The Name

One thing you should consider when thinking how to choose a baby name is when you tell people what you have chosen. One thing is certain, if you tell people before the child is born some people will say that they don't like it and try to persuade you to choose something different.

For this reason many people prefer to tell people the name after the baby is born. This way people believe that the final decision has been made and usually only offer positive feedback. Of course, this doesn't always work. When I told my mother in law my daughters name (after the birth) her reply was "no, what is it really....?"

Top 100 Names In The US 2010

Updated: 01/29/2012, thefont
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