The Name Game: Choosing the Perfect Name for Baby



Among the many decisions you will make during your pregnancy lies one that will affect your child for his or her entire life. A baby’s name will be with him forever. No pressure, right?  Choosing a name for your baby isn’t easy, so here are some tips that will help you to pick the perfect name to last a lifetime.

Consider the Source. Baby name books can be helpful, but there are many other places you can look for names for your child. Think about names in your favorite book or movie characters, historical figures, Kansas City Royals players or old teachers and friends.  Look at the list of popular baby names on the Social Security website, not only for recent years but for past years, too. You may find an old name that it’s time to bring back. Check out websites like BabyNameWizard.com or Nameberry.com where you can research names, find a name’s meaning, locate similar names or get suggestions based on various factors you input.

What’s Your Type? Early on it is a good idea to decide on what type of name you are interested in. Are you a traditionalist or do you want something more modern? Do you want a popular name or something unique? Do religious names interest you? Do you want something with a natural nickname? Are family names important or to be avoided? Narrowing it down to a certain type of name can help you in your search, as you will easily eliminate names that don’t fit in with your vision.

Family Matters. Look at all the branches of both of your family trees for inspiration. You may not want to name your baby after you or your parents, but your great-great-grandmother might have had the perfect name. Honoring your ancestors can make a baby’s name even more special. If you really want to honor a family member but you aren’t in love with the name, consider it as a middle name!

Testing, 1..2..3... Once you have a short list, say the names out loud over and over again. Say them with your last name. Say them with your names. Say them with a variety of middle names. Say them with your other children’s names and write them down. This will help you not only make sure the names sound good, but it also may help you decide which one is THE name.  Call the baby by each name on your list for a few days at a time and see which one sounds right to you. Sometimes the name you thought you’d love just doesn’t feel right when you say it out loud. Also, make sure your baby’s initials don’t spell something unpleasant!

To Tell or Not to Tell. Some couples choose to share their chosen baby name with everyone…even monogramming the name on the nursery items before the baby is born. Some keep it a secret from the world.  You have to choose what works best for you, but a rule of thumb is that if you don’t want someone’s opinion on the name, don’t share it. Many people feel that they have a say in the baby’s name before the baby is born, so unless you really want your great aunt’s opinion about that name you love so much, keep it to yourself.

At First Sight. Though you may have your baby’s name picked out ahead of time, there is nothing wrong with waiting until you meet your little bundle of joy before making the final decision. Sometimes a name you thought was perfect just doesn’t seem right when you see that little face. Sometimes a name you ruled out for one reason or another will become perfect with thet first glance at your baby. Keep an open mind!

In the end, follow local mom Janell Tarpey’s advice: “Find something you love, something that will grow with them. And try not to let the opinions of others bother you.”

Sara Keenan lives in Brookside with her husband and two children. She saved herself some grief by saying potential baby names aloud when she almost named her daughter Ella. Her older son’s name is Sam. Say it aloud: “Sam and Ella.” Yes, she almost named her kids after a food-borne illness.  (They settled on Annie instead). 

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