Picking the perfect name can be an overwhelming task for new parents. Here are our top tips on how to choose a baby name to help you get it right.
Naming stories are the best.
Ask your closest friends 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 Madrone – 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? Here are some tips to help you choose a baby name.
1. Brainstorm with Baby Name Lists
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.
The internet is filled with baby name inspiration. Here are a few of our lists to help you choose a baby name.
There’s no need to let choosing a name for your baby stress you out. Take comfort in the fact that just like your baby found you – in time, his or her name will find you too.
Honor Your Culture + Family History
One unbeatable naming technique is to take a page from the naming days of yore. Choose a family member or ancestor and carry their name into the future by giving it to the next generation. It’s hard not to love a name that carries family significance.
Consider your and your partner’s lineage and see if there is a cross cultural baby name that will mean a lot to both of you and the legacy you hope to create.
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 come naturally?
Can you imagine yourself singing it in a lullaby?
How does it sound to call out into the backyard when it’s time for dinner?
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 or let you know you’re way off base.
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 United States 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.
Watch out for initials that spell things, especially if you’re hyphenating. They call them four-letter words for a reason.
In the US, a baby can go unnamed up until the day they have 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 their 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 their personality. Spend some time gazing into the eyes of your precious new little one. Then you’ll know everything you need to decide.