Who would have thought that finding the perfect baby name would be so tough?
In the first flush of pregnancy you and your partner may sit around tossing names out, discarding them as easily as last week's leftovers or faithfully jotting them down for future reference. But, on the journey that is raising a child, selecting a name can be the hardest part.
What does your favourite name mean? Can your friends spell it? Does your mum like it? Is it about to rocket to the top of this year's baby names list? So much to consider.
Read on for our fail-safe route to reaching the right choice for you and your baby.
Why Is Choosing A Name So Important?
To begin with the possibilities feel endless, but the more names your partner vetoes, and the further along in pregnancy, the harder the task becomes. After all, you're picking your baby's name which will be a key part of their identity. Countless studies have drawn correlations between our names and our success in life. It's easy to feel responsible for your child's whole future with one decision. Their name will be carried with them for life – while Boo may be cute on a toddler, a 40-year old lawyer may not welcome it. Ultimately though, don't stress over the name. It's amazing how many children grow into their names, or casually adapt them to suit.
When Should You Start Thinking Of Names?
As soon as you want! Many parents tend to start the name conversation once they've passed the security of the 12-week scan, but that's not to say you can't have spent the weeks beforehand mulling over ideas. Equally, it's not unusual for parents to reach the delivery room and still not have a name – or spend the baby's first days referring to him or her as 'the baby' because you've been unable to reach a decision. But the sooner you start to think about it the sooner you can make your shortlist. The final decision doesn't need to come until once baby is here. Ultimately, don't rush your decision. The baby doesn't need to have a name until 42 days post-birth when it must be legally registered.
How To Choose Your Baby's Name
Get yourself a notebook and keep a list of potential names. Nine months is a long time and the perfect moniker in week six of pregnancy may be running a little thin by your due date. Over time you may find you naturally rule out some of your initial ideas anyway. This approach will serve you well if you don't want to panic-name once the baby makes its appearance, when you'll feel more pressured to pick a name because everyone will be asking.
It's always worth looking into the names you're shortlisting to find out their meaning. No matter how pretty the name some still have meanings that you may prefer not to saddle your newborn with. Baby Calvin may not thank you for it when he loses his hair prematurely (his name means 'bald'). But don't be put off a name purely based on its meaning – of course people may ask you what is the meaning of your bundle of joy's name but they're just as likely to coo over a pretty name. If you're worried about a name being too popular then it's easy enough to find lists of most popular names over recent years.
Look To The Past
If you're stuck, why not delve deeper into your family history and see if there are any names that stand out to you. There may be some names you deem old fashioned but, just as with fashion, names tend to come and go in cycles. We're sure at some point in the future names like Sharon, Sarah and Ethel will regain their popularity – if you love it go for it and be ahead of the curve. There's also something special about naming your child after a great grandparent or distant relation and it adds a special dimension to their own story.
Consider A Classic
Don't automatically dismiss classic names as being too boring or common. Sometimes classic and elegant is just the ticket – and stands out for being so amongst a sea of off-beat names. Choices like Emma for girls and Dylan for boys have stood the test of time for good reason. Or be inspired by a piece of literature – how does Alice (in Wonderland), Rosalind (As you Like It) or Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) sound for girls or William (Shakespeare), David (Copperfield) or Lawrence (Little Women) for boys? Or explore our classic girls names list.
Don't Go Too Out-There
In a rush to find a unique name, many parents get creative or draw on pop culture for inspiration. Don't rush into a decision. If you find one you like, pop it in your notebook and take some time to mull it over. A good test is to go to your local park and shout the name out – how do you feel? Silly? Or proud? Any name that is drawn from popular culture runs the risk of becoming over-popular or worse (Game of Thrones fans who named their daughter Daenerys may have later developed regrets). Plus tastes change. Bet your parents are glad they didn't plump for Kajagoogoo for you. And with a made up or totally obscure name your child will spend a lifetime having to explain it.
Consider The Spelling
Which brings us nicely to spellings. If you like a name, don't be so determined to find a new variation on it to be different. Some names lend themselves to a variety of spellings which tend to reflect cultural differences, for example Johanna and Joanna. Spelling Joanna with a Z just because you can is another matter. Ask anyone with a less than common name and we're sure they'll tell you that they spend a significant proportion of their time spelling it out.
Go Back To School
For many prospective parents, picking a name can be so difficult because names hold memories of people we've previously known – who wants to call their newborn after the kid who was mean to them at school? So once you've gathered together your final list take a run through with your partner and make sure there aren't any monikers that will spark an instant dislike. But remember, memories fade – especially as you build new ones with your baby – and you may have to compromise with your partner.
Many parents-to-be use the middle name as an opportunity to pay tribute to a family member, but this doesn't have to be the case. There are two key points to consider here. First, it can be used to honour a family name you feel obliged to include but secretly dislike; and second, some children end up going by their middle names so make sure it's one you're happy with. Try some middle name inspiration.
Check Your Initials
Because who would want to be known as P.O.P or N.U.T? Enough said on this really – once you pick a name (and a middle name if you're using one) write out the initials to make sure they don't spell out anything you wouldn't want your child to be called.
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