A Guide to Finding the Perfect Baby Name
Choosing your child’s future name can be HARD. With so many names to choose from, you’d think that finding one you like would be easy. But as you are faced with the reality that you are choosing a huge part of your child’s identity for them (and the prospect of a having a partner who doesn’t agree with you on naming styles) it can become quite overwhelming.
Thankfully, the process is not all bad. Especially if you equip yourself with a solid set of guidelines to make the search easier, you should be able to lighten up and have some fun with it. After all, this is a special opportunity to bond with your baby- many parents say that choosing a name helped them to feel more connected to their child, and to make their approaching arrival feel more “real”.
Here, we have put together our favourite tips and tricks for choosing the perfect baby name.
Finding Meaning in a Name
Not everyone thinks that a baby name has to be overly meaningful, and that’s okay, but it can be really helpful when you’ve become bogged down in the process. Choosing your child’s forever name is supposed to be a special right of passage in parenthood, and if it’s starting to feel like an impossible mountain to climb, looking at meanings that are special to you might help you to fall in love with an unexpected name. Think about what is important to you (and your partner) and try doing a search specific to that meaning and see if anything resonates. Otherwise, you can look through a name list and pay attention only to the meanings- cover the names column with your hand if you must. When you see a meaning that sticks out you, unveil the name and you might just find “the one”!
Test Your Name’s Wearability
As much as you want to love your child’s name, it’s important to remember that this is the first step in shaping their identity, so you’re going to want to choose something that is easy for them to live with. One of the biggest ways to test a name’s wearability is to ask a neutral third party to read the name out loud off of a sheet of paper, since constant mispronunciation is one of the most frequent complaints about a name.
The other big thing to consider is how kids will respond to the name. Kids who want to bully others, which is unfortunately something that happens often, will find something to pick on no matter what- but don’t make it easy for them! Make sure there are no unfortunate nicknames or rhyming words associated with the name you have chosen for your child. Remember to consider initials, as well as commonly mispronounced letters/phonetics amongst children.
On the topic of nicknames, avoid choosing a longer name with a shortened version/nickname you don’t like. No matter how much effort you put into making sure everyone uses your child’s full name, eventually somebody is going to shorten it and it will inevitably stick.
The Sibling Factor
While you might not want your children’s names to be completely matching, and most parents don’t, you’re likely going to want to make sure sibling’s names sound good together. Are you okay with their names rhyming? Starting or ending in the same letter? Do they sound too similar? Too different? There is really no right answer to any of these questions, but chances are, you will have some pretty strong feelings about them once you dive into it. Thinking about what you’re okay with and what you're not okay with will help you to narrow your search. If a name really keeps calling to you even though it doesn’t match your criteria, then that is a pretty good indicator that you have found a name you love enough to use for your child.
Envision Who Your Child Will Be
Many parents spend lots of time during their pregnancies thinking about what their child may look like and who they will grow up to be. This is actually a really valuable tool for choosing a baby name- even if your assumptions are way off-base. Whenever you hear a name, you often picture a child with that name in your head. While these images are based off of preconceived ideas and will vary greatly from person to person, they will help you to get a good sense of how you truly feel about a name and how it fits into your lifestyle.
If there is a name you really love, close your eyes and think about how you picture a child with that name to look and act. Does it fit with the image of who you imagine your child to be? For example, if both you and your partner have dark hair and dark eyes, but you picture a “Finn” to be a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy, then chances are you cannot picture a “Finn” as your son. In the same way, you might think of a very spunky, electric little girl named “Xena”, but if you and your partner are both the shy literary type, then the name “Xena” might not feel like it “fits” with your family.
Keep it to Yourself
Once you have found the perfect name, you might feel like you want to sing it from the rooftops and introduce the world to this little baby you’re so excited to meet. If you can help it though, try to withhold from broadcasting it until after the baby is born. As you have likely noticed by now, finding a baby name can be tricky, and agreeing with a partner on a name can be even tricker. One of the biggest things that parents find gets in the way of falling in love with a name are negative associations they might have with it from the get-go: people from their past, brand identities and so on. If you and your partner have managed to find a veto- worthy association for every single name on the planet besides a select few, imagine what happens when you open the forum up to more voices and opinions. There is always going to
be somebody who knows somebody who knew somebody with the name you have chosen, and more likely than not, they are bringing it up because they didn’t enjoy that person’s company. That, or the name simply isn’t their taste. Since names are so highly subjective, it’s best not to invite others to weigh in.
The good news is, it’s only your associations and your taste that matter when it comes to naming your child. So if you can handle keeping the name under wraps for a while, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief fending off unsolicited opinions- don’t give anyone the opportunity to ruin your chid’s name for you! Your family and friends will learn like the name as they fall in love with their new grandchild/niece/nephew.
Let Your Baby Decide
While this might not be for everyone, it is worth considering waiting until your baby is born to decide on the name that suits them best. No matter what, your baby will grow into the name that you choose for them. Many parents, however, state that once their baby was born the “just knew they looked like a...”. Before gender scans were widely available, this is how most babies were named, so it’s not like you’d be really risking it by waiting. Simply make a short list of the top 3-5 names (or more, no one is stopping you!) that you and your partner agree on and pack it in your hospital bag ahead of time. Chances are, one your baby is born, a strong favourite will arise.
Did you know that you can even leave the hospital without picking a name? If you really need more time to see who your little baby is going to be, there’s nothing stopping you from bringing your bundle of joy home and feeling them out for a while before choosing their name- no feel pressured into picking something if it doesn’t feel right. The hospital will just put in a placeholder on the birth certificate and you will be given a set amount of time to change it.