Choosing a baby name can be one of the most fun and challenging aspects of having a new baby. Your baby’s name will be an introduction to the type of person he or she is – for example, is your baby girl a ‘Lilly’, or is she a ‘Rose’? In your baby boy a ‘George’ or a ‘William’? Should your baby’s name mean ‘strength’ or ‘desire’, or is the name’s meaning not important?
Parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, and family will be sharing their advice and ideas in helping you find a name for your child. Chances are you will spend hours trying to pin down that perfect baby name and you’ll change your mind more than once along the way. But eventually, you will find a few names that you like best.
Once you find a few different names, you can ask friends and family which name they like best. You can also compare your list to the top 100 baby names by decade or the most popular names of a specific year – maybe you want a popular baby name or maybe you prefer a unique name. Eventually, you will find the perfect baby name, and it will instill you with a sense of pride and achievement, both for you and eventually for your child.
1. Selecting a popular name for your baby
Today’s favorite names may or may not be around tomorrow. While some names have proven the test of time, others have come and gone like leg warmers. There is an easy way to determine if a name has staying power, simply review the top 100 names by year using this site.
We list the top 100 baby names for the past 125 years, by year. While choosing a very popular name today can be fun, it may mean your son or daughter will be one of many in their classes growing up. This isn’t necessarily bad, but something to consider when selecting that perfect baby name.
2. Selecting a baby name with the perfect meaning
A great method in finding a perfect baby name is to understand the name meaning. You can find the perfect baby name meaning using one of two methods: 1) you can look up the meanings of your favorite names, and/or 2) you can take the BabyNamesUSA test. The tests helps you find the perfect baby name by choosing words that you believe are important or are words you want your future baby to possess – like loving, or gentle, or intelligent.
The test will allow you to choose meanings that are significant and/or important to you – whether it’s a characteristic you find admirable, or one in which you want your future baby to possess to become successful in life.
3. Searching for a baby name using the origin/ethnicity/religion of the name
One of the most common methods for selecting a baby name is using the origin and/or ethnicity of the baby name. This will give the baby an immediate source of identity and an understanding of the culture and origin of the baby’s family heritage.
In some religions, like Judaism, it is common to name a baby after a deceased family member, to honor loved ones who’ve passed. In many cases these names were from a different generation (see top 100 baby names by year, above) and may be ‘out of style’. If this is the case, middle names are the perfect solution.
4. Choose a baby name for each sex – so whatever the baby is, you are ready.
Once you get the wonderful news that a new baby is coming, it will be a while until you can determine the baby’s sex – IF you are considering finding out at all (food for thought – there is no better surprise, and nothing more worth waiting for). Having a boy’s name and girl’s name is a great start.
5. Naming the baby after the parent – either a single name, or the entire name
In order for your baby boy to become a Jr. (junior), or the ‘II’ (the second), the entire name should be the same as the father’s. The father is the Sr. (senior), the son becomes the Jr. For example, John William Smith names his son John William Smith, the father is the Sr. /I, the son is the Jr. /II.
If the son is the third generation to receive the name, the baby boy typically becomes the III (third). Be sure you want to name your baby boy, or baby girl, the same as a parent – it can lead to confusion growing up. If you know you want to name the baby after a parent, selecting a unique middle name may be the perfect solution.
6. Your child will have to live with this name for a lifetime.
The name you choose for your baby (and future child/adult) should be worn happily. Will family, friends and one day, employers ‘take notice’ for the wrong reasons? Remember, kids can be cruel – don’t make life more challenging than it needs to be.
7. Choose a baby name that you are proud of, and makes you smile.
Naming your baby after family and friends that have a special place in your heart is a great place to start. Are their special attributes you want your baby to carry – choosing a name that means something special is also a great idea.
8. Make sure the full name (first, middle and last) sounds good together.
Say the baby’s name aloud – is it easy or difficult to say the name? Choose a name that flows well together. Stay away from Jim Shoe (gym shoe) or names that when pieced together can have an alternate meaning.
9. Write the full baby name down – as well as the initials of all names.
If your baby name’s initials make up another word – be sure you are comfortable with what results. For example James Earl Thompson (JET) may be acceptable, but think twice about names like Daniel Irving Petty (DIP).
Spell it!! When writing the name down, was it difficult to spell and/or say? If you had problems, you may want to reconsider the name.
10. Nicknames are inevitable.
When your child goes to school, joins a sports team or club, chances are a nickname may be close behind. Some nicknames can be endearing, but others may not be what you had in mind when naming your baby. Many times, Alan Jackson results in AJ – be sure this is acceptable, as many times, it is ultimately out of the parents control.
11. Naming your baby after a sports figure, movie star, or political hero
Be sure you want to go this route, prior to naming your baby. While the name may be beautiful – it could become overly popular. Or, if the person falls out of favor, it may result in giving the name a negative stigma.
12. Naming multiple babies
If your family is going to increase by more than one baby, there a few things to consider. First, naming babies with the same first initial may be confusing – for you, the babies and future teachers. You may want to consider choosing different initials – giving each child a unique name. Second, choosing different initials may make things easier when accepting gifts containing your babies’ initials. If each baby’s name contains the same letters – it will be difficult in determining which gifts belong to which baby. This will only get more challenging.
13. Religious & Traditional considerations
Some families have a tradition in passing down names from generation to generation. Make sure you check with both parents’ families first. Also, some religions don’t allow babies to be named after living family members. Be sure to check your religious beliefs as well.
14. Select multiple names for your baby.
Chances are, you and your partner, your family, and others will all have a different name in mind. While the decision ultimately comes down to the parent(s), keep your mind open to suggestions. Not only will this help in selecting the best name for your baby, but it will make your life easier along the way.
15. What if there is a pet with the same name we wanted to name our baby.
Unless the name is Fido or Spot – we wouldn’t worry much about it. We had a dog name Jordan (after Michael Jordan), and I’ve met many other people named Jordan. It is inevitable that someone somewhere named a dog, cat, fish or rabbit the same name you are considering for your baby. If you love the name – don’t look back.
16. I have a friend/family member who is considering the name I wanted for my baby.
There are a few things you can do. If the person is going to move forward with the name, you may need to choose a new one (or try talking with them). Or you can find the meaning of the name, and see if a different name with the same meaning is appealing to you.
For you parents that have yet to choose a name for your baby – you should learn from this lesson. You may want to keep you favorite names secret – or only share with people that 1) aren’t going to have kids anytime soon or 2) you can definitely trust. Well-liked and/or unique names can become very popular, very quickly.
17. I love the name – but others do not.
Two points on this:
1. If the opinions of these people mean something to you, it is up to you and your partner whether or not you let other people’s opinions change your mind. If their points are valid – it may be worth listening to the person. See ‘Selecting a Name’
2. You will always be able to find someone that isn’t crazy about the name you’ve chosen for your baby. If you are happy with your choice – then tune the person out. If that doesn’t work, tell them thanks for sharing their opinion with you, and name your baby what you wanted to anyway.
18. I like one baby name – my partner likes a different name.
There are several things you can do to compromise:
1. One of you pick the first name, the other can select the middle name – or a nick-name for the baby.
2. Each of you can select a few names you each like, and see if one of those baby names makes you both happy.
3. If you are planning on having multiple children, you can take turns selecting the baby’s name. You can pick the name for the first child, and your partner can pick the name of the next baby. Be aware – if you decide to do it this way, one of you may not be happy when it comes to the next baby’s name.
4. Dart board – Put the different baby names on a dart board (or something similar), and throw away! If that doesn’t work, try the ‘flip-a-coin’ method.
19. My partner wants to name the baby after a family member – but I really don’t care for the name (or the family member).
Honesty is typically the best policy in most cases. If you are not thrilled with the name your partner has chosen for the baby, see article ‘I like one baby name – my partner likes a different name’. There are ideas here that will help.
One suggestion: It would probably be best if you didn’t tell your partner that “You don’t like the name they have chosen”. It will be easier if you just say, let’s consider that name, and come up with some alternatives as well. Or, if your partner is insistent on that particular name, you may want to use it as the baby’s middle name.
Beside what we mentioned above, below you’ll find 7 things to consider when choosing a baby name that is right for your baby:
1. Name Popularity
Some names are trendy and become popular for a season such as the name Jennifer which was especially popular in the 80’s. Names of famous people or characters in movies also tend to become popular for a time. Biblical names like Joshua and Joseph remain popular. Then there are old time names like Bertha or Henry that are no longer considered popular and are seldom used.
When considering baby names, dont just read through a list. Be sure to say them out loud. Imagine calling your baby by the name. How does it sound to you? Say the name along with the babys last name. How do they sound together? Are they compatible? You probably would not want them to rhyme like Sara OHara or Ronald McDonald.
You may also want to consider the uniqueness of your baby’s name. If it is very unusual, it will draw attention to your child. If it is very common, your child may have to be referred by his or her last name or last initial to distinguish him/her from others with the same name.
How will you spell your baby’s name? There are different ways to spell the same name, consider Christal, Christall, Christel, Christele, Christell, Christle, Christol, Christyl, Chrystal, Chrystle, Cristal, Crystle, Kristal, Kristall, Kristel, Kristell, Kristelle, Kristl, Kristle, Kristol, Krystal, Krystall, Krystil, Krystl, Krystle, Krystol, Krystyl and Christl.
The pronunciation of your baby’s name is also something to consider. Is it easy or difficult to say? How do you say the name Xavier? Actually, there are several different ways it can be pronounced. It would therefore pose more of a challenge than a name like Justin.
6. Initials & Nicknames
How long is the name? Is it one syllable like Jan or several like Isabella? Remember that longer names often have nicknames. Isabella might be called Izzy, Belle, Bella, Ella, Ellie, or Allie. Be sure to think about the nicknames your child may be called. Also, what would your baby’s initials be if you were to choose a particular name? Notice that Brian Anthony Dawson would have the initials B.A.D.
7. Meanings, Friends & Family
All names have meanings and origin. Nicole is a Greek name, the feminine version of Nicholas, meaning peoples victory. Nathan is a Hebrew name meaning gift from God. However, the personal meaning parents attach to a name is most significant. The name might reflect the family’s ancestry or religious preferences. Parents may name their baby after a beloved family member or friend. Or a name can be part of a family tradition where first born sons are named after their fathers.
Have fun choosing a baby name! And remember that choosing the right baby name can be made so much easier when you consider the 7 tips outlined above.
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