Arts & Crafts Parenting

Picking a Baby Name

When is it appropriate to pick a baby name? According to BabyCenter, most couples decide in the second trimester. According to me, you should have decided 12 years ago.

When is it appropriate to pick a baby name?

According to BabyCenter, most couples decide in the second trimester.

According to me, you should have decided 12 years ago.

Choosing a name for another human being is a big task. You’re potentially setting someone up for years of torment (I’m talking to you, Ben Dover), countless “it’s actually pronounced” moments, and the let-down every time a Starbucks barista spells your name wrong.

I understand that parents want to wait to find out the gender, or at least know that the pregnancy is a sure bet, before falling in love with a name, but we’re talking about the most important title of someone’s life.

Don’t you think that decision deserves a little more than four months?

Hear me out. Baby names, like fine wine, take time to be appreciated. Names that you once loved become the butt of a joke, and names you never even knew existed sky-rocket to the top of your list in seconds. So I think it’s worth starting the conversation with your partner the moment you confirm your pregnancy, and spend the proper time – a full 9 months if possible – vetting ALL your options.

In my professional opinion, here’s what you need to do. In this exact order.

Step 1: Get inspired

Start building a shortlist of baby names by writing down the first, middle and last names of everyone in your immediate family. Think about your best friends, teachers or mentors who changed your life, singers and athletes that you idolize, characters from your favorite book or movie, and loved ones who are no longer with you.

Then look back at your family tree. As far as you possibly can. You’ll probably laugh at how formal-sounding the names were in the 1880’s, but you might find a diamond in the rough. And think how cute it would be for your child to explain that they were named after their great great great great great great great grandmother? Super cute. That’s how cute.

Because inspiration can come from anywhere, but nothing’s more meaningful than personal connections.

And while you’re rifling through the history books, don’t limit yourself to relatives. You might want to hop online and type in “most popular names in [insert year].” I would avoid the last decade, so your child won’t feel like a carbon copy of every other boy or girl in his school. But you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to find inspiration. Popular names were popular for a reason!

Step 2: Ditch the duds

Once you and your partner have your lists, do some research to rule out the weakest options. Look up the origin, meaning (in other languages as well as English), era of peak popularity, current popularity, various spellings, and historical figures who shared the name. Here are some things you can avoid by doing your homework:

  • Naming your son Oliver in 2014, along with every other parent in America.
  • Name your son Gary, only to find out it’s the Japanese word for diarrhea.
  • Naming your child Nevaeh, only to find it in the top spot on every “Ugly Names You Should Avoid” list.
  • Naming your daughter Zoeey or Zoey or Zoi when 99% of the world spells it Zoe.

Do your due diligence, my friends. And honestly, it’s kind of fun.

Step 3: Lay out your options in a visual way

This is something not enough parents do. Sure, you’ll only enjoy it if you’re as OCD and obsessed with making things as I am. But it’s surprisingly handy to have, say, flashcards of your baby names pinned to a corkboard in your bedroom. You’ll unconsciously start eliminating your least-favorite. If you’re lucky, the list will grow smaller and smaller each week and you’ll be left with only a few names to stress over.

Also, don’t underestimate the benefit of writing names by hand rather than just saving them as a smartphone note. Some names sound beautiful but their letters don’t sit well on the page (sorry, Niamh.) Others are difficult to write in cursive. And some just don’t look right when they’re paired with your last name.

Side notes: Don’t read too far into these photos. I didn’t want to give anything away, so these names are simply the most popular names of 2016. Thank you, BabyCenter!

No corkboard? Here are some other options to consider:

  • Fold up your favorite names, place them in a fishbowl and, each night, pick out a few to discuss over dinner.
  • Place colorful sticky notes on your fridge. You’re bound to open that thing once or twice a day, so the names will be woven into your daily routine.
  • Write the names on a piece of paper and leave it on your office desk. When you’re in a work state-of-mind, you’re more likely to take the vetting process seriously. The goal is to eliminate, and sometimes that takes a professional approach.
  • And lastly, if you have kids (or nieces and nephews) and want to get them involved in the process, try putting miniature sticky notes on a Fisher-Price See ‘N Say The Farmer Says. Have your kids pull the string, spin the arrow, and talk about the different names that the arrow lands on. It’s a great way to get them involved. And who knows, maybe you’ll be able to tell your friends that “our daughter picked it out.” Adorable, isn’t it?

Step 4: Battle of the baby names

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to fewer than a half-dozen names, it’s time to get serious for the grand finale. I’ll use Hunter and Candace in these examples so we’ve got a boy’s name and a girl’s. (Why Hunter and Candace? Because it’s my blog and I’ll do whatever I want.)

A few questions to consider:

  • What nicknames could our child be given? Are we okay with that?
    • Hunter becomes Hunt, which is a little too close to a very naughty word. And Candace becomes Candy, which sounds like a stripper.
  • How might people misspell the name?
    • Hunter won’t be misspelled unless your friends flunked out of middle school. But Candace can be spelled “Candice”, which may become annoying for your child. Something to think about.
  • What does the name sound like in a different accent?
    • If you hope that your kid might someday live or work abroad, then you may care whether his name will be mangled outside the States. My husband is from Australia, where Hunter is pronounced “Huntah,” much as it is in Boston. It lacks a certain crispness (though it isn’t as bad as “Harper” which, Down Under, becomes “HAAAAAAAH-P’UH.”) But Candace sounds the same, so you’re good there.
  • What famous people already have that name?
    • Hunter S. Thompson (gonzo journalist), Hunter Parrish (actor in Weeds), Hunter… umm… Any others Hunters? Naa. It’s fine. The most famous Candace is Candace Cameron, which may be one reason to avoid it. Especially if your last name is Cameron.
  • How does that name sound in sentences you’ll use frequently?
    • I guess the only problem for Hunter is if you come from a hunting family (i.e. “Let’s go hunting, Hunter.”) And you’re safe with Candace, as far as I can tell. Unless you own a candy story.

Did you clean your room, _______?

Overall, my point of view (which I stole from a dear friend of mine) is this: A child’s name should be rare enough that they’ll probably be the only one with that name in their class, but not so unusual that it’s a daily hassle for them to spell or explain. You want the name to be interesting… but not confusing.

What other tricks and tips do you guys have about researching, vetting and picking baby names? And while you’re at it, any suggestions for twin names (boy and girl) that work well together? We’ll take all the suggestions we can get!

Until next time, stay crafty.


11 comments on “Picking a Baby Name

  1. I agree it’s important to give naming your child some serious thought. Even how you spell it has become important. Are you Jane or Jayne, Steven and Stephen, Sean or Shawn the list goes on. Love how your incorporated getting younger children involved. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. what? have you failed to consider their initials? you have to be sure the monogram won’t cause future embarrassment… there are some tricky little words out there. perhaps you’d like the initials to be clever… one of my grand nephews has the initials O.M.G.
    and to be honest ~ sometimes you think you have the perfect name chosen and then when your newborn is in your arms you realize that the name you picked with such love and care doesn’t fit with your new baby. they are tricky that way! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is exhaustingly wonderful and I can hear you say every word in this blog post.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One thing I’ve kept in mind is how easy it is to call. “Leeeeeeeigh” doesn’t carry very well but “Mayaaaaaaa” is easier to yell so they can hear you in an emergency.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. When I was pregnant it came down to nick names. I had Nathaniel, Jacob and Zachary. I was like Nate? Nope! Jake? No way! Then Zach? I can deal with Zach. Until he came home from school one day crying. When I asked him what was wrong he told me “the kids at school are calling me Zachy!” I about cried myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! I guess we’ll never be able to predict what other kids will call them or what will rub them the wrong way, can we? But for what it’s worth, I think Zachy is adorable! 😊


  6. Pingback: 8 Bullshit-free Tips I Wish I Knew Before Having Kids – Bringing Up Gaybies

  7. Pingback: 8 Bullsh**-free Tips I Wish I Knew Before Having Kids

Leave a Reply to BringingUpGaybies Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: