Naming stories are the best.
Ask your closest friends about where their names came from, and you’re sure to get a good story or two. You could find out that Lindsay’s parents named her after their favorite bank teller. Lewis was named for his great-grandfather who brought the family to the US. Or Maddy was named after a Madrona – her dad’s favorite tree.
A name is the first gift you can give your child.
So how does a parent to be go about choosing the right name?
A great way to get the ball rolling is by looking through lists of people and places you admire. The perfect name might not be on any list, but it could get you moving in the right direction. Think outside the box:
Parents-to-be have plenty to worry about. In this era of in vitro fertilization and egg freezing, even just trying to get pregnant can be an anxiety-inducing endeavor — though with the right IVF support, it really doesn’t have to be. There’s no need to add even more stress to your pregnancy by putting undue pressure on choosing a name.
Take comfort in the fact that just like your baby found you, in time his or her name will find you too.
Mind the Past and the Future
One unbeatable naming technique is to take a page from the naming days of yore — choose a family member or ancestor and carry his or her name into the future by giving it to the next generation. It’s hard not to love a name that carries family significance.
It’s good to be conscious of the times when going this route. Say you want to name your baby girl after her great-grandmother, Mildred. It’s wise to consider that there aren’t too many Mildreds these days. And depending on the way you feel about the sound and feel of the name, its lack of fashion could either be a great quality or a deterrent.
Trust Your Instincts
In every aspect of parenting, learning to trust your instincts will serve you well. In this case, it’s a subtle way of reminding you to pay attention to the less tangible qualities of a name. Think about how the name feels when you say it.
Does it feel sharp?
Does it come naturally?
Can you imagine yourself singing it in a lullaby and calling it into the backyard when your child is being rowdy?
Parenthood is guaranteed to encompass the whole spectrum of emotion, so it’s good to have a name that can be applied to any situation. You’ll see further down the list that sometimes it’s good to wait and get to know your baby a bit before you settle on a name. You may have a name selected in advance. Once baby arrives your instincts will either affirm you’re on course or shout, “No way!”
Pay Attention to Detail
Depending on what state your baby is born in, his or her name might have to abide by certain restrictions. Several states won’t allow names that have symbols or even diacritical markings like accents, while others have character limits. All and all, the US is pretty lax when it comes to naming laws, but that’s certainly not true for every nation. If you happen to have your baby in Saudi Arabia, don’t get any big ideas about naming her Linda. You’ll be sorely disappointed.
Even if you’ve got a handle on all the rules, sometimes the devil is still in details. Watch out for initials that spell things, especially if you’re hyphenating — a.k.a. giving baby a first, middle, and two last names.
They call them four-letter words for a reason.
In the US, a baby can go unnamed up until the day he or she has to travel or get a social security card. So really, there’s no big hurry to jump into a name. It’s not a great idea to wait too long of course. In the state of California, things start getting expensive if parents wait more than a year to choose a name. Not to mention that it’s helpful for a child to recognize his or her own name as they’re developing a sense of identity.
But again, there’s no rush. If you just can’t decide on a name — it usually comes down to two — it’s perfectly ok to wait and meet your baby first. Get to know her personality. Look into her eyes. It’ll be clear after that.
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