One of the first thoughts I always have after finding out I’m pregnant is, “I get to name a baby!” Because I love names and the idea of getting to name a tiny little human. When I was little, I would write out the names of my future kids in church because I loved the idea of choosing a baby name so much (true story). Of course, I also stress over all the pressure of deciding on the perfect name. Because how is one supposed to pick the perfect baby name when there are so many options and things to consider? It can consume a person because as amazing and fun as it is–a name is so final! So permanent. And it sets the tone for that little person from day one.
7 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Baby Name
1. Traditional or Non-Traditional
When picking a baby name, an important question is, “Do we like traditional or non-traditional names?” This is important to consider from child one because it can also set the tone for your future children’s names. Even though families can have a William and a Maverick, once you start with either a traditional or unique name, you feel more compelled to stay in that direction for your future children. So you either go William and Matthew or Wilder and Maverick.
And just to put a plug in for unusual names, given that I’m a Quin, one study completed by a sociologist at New York University found that kids with unusual names might be better at impulse control because they spend their lives having to help people out with pronunciation.1 However, another study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people with more simplistic first and last names seem to excel more in the work world because it seems society feels more comfortable with names that are easy to pronounce.2
2. A Dime a Dozen
There’s always a new name trend. And strangely, it seems so much harder to escape than you think. I cannot tell you how often friends have told me, “I had never heard anyone with the name (Insert trendy name) until we named her, then I heard it everywhere.“ So, to avoid this, check out the top trending names for the past five years and see if your favorite name falls on that list. And if it is, ask yourself, “Do we care if there are many children with this name? Or do we care more about loving the name?“ I found that even when trying to go out of my way to find a name others don’t have, a year or so after using a name, it begins to rise in popularity regardless. Therefore, with my fourth son, I went with a name I knew was popular just because I loved it!
I’m slightly obsessed with meaning. If you have two baby names you love but can’t decide on, I think a great way to have a tiebreaker is to look up their meanings. It’s not that people necessarily live up to the meaning of their name, but I think the meaning of our name does in some way affect us. One of my son’s names means strong as a wild boar. But I went with it! And boy, is he strong now. I always wonder what would have happened if I had named him something that meant weakling.
4. Nickname or No?
I am obsessed with nicknames, so one of my prerequisites for choosing a perfect baby name is finding a name with a nickname I love. But that’s also important to consider if you don’t like nicknames. What nicknames does the name you’re choosing naturally invite? You love Harrison, but you hate the name Harry? That may not be a good choice for you. If you love the name Stephanie but worry someone might call her “Step on Me” (a Full House reference for you ladies in your 20s and 30s), it might not be the name for you. Or vice versa, if there are two names you equally like, and one has an adorable nickname, too, that might be the way to go!
5. How it Flows with a Middle Name and Last Name
Some families have traditions where the middle name is named after the grandfather or grandmother. Do you have a first name you love but no middle name yet? Or vice versa? It’s fun to consider names that you like together. My husband and I chose to have all one-syllable names for our children’s middle names. I enjoyed having a theme! But these worked well because they all have longer first names. Also, it’s important to consider how the name sounds with your last name. You may love the name Ally until you put it with your last name Gator. Then maybe you realize Ally Gator isn’t what you want to name your little princess.
6. Vary the Spelling
You can change the spelling if you have a traditional name you love but want to add a little fun to it. This is an easy way to give your child the name you love and add a little flair to a more common name. Ashley becomes Ashleigh or Ashlee. Mark becomes Marc. However, be warned. Your child may be frustrated you gave them a spelling everyone gets wrong.
7. Don’t Overthink It
If this article has only caused more stress, let me give you some good news. Once you have your baby, the name is instantly them! Even if you have stressed over names for months . . . I have heard very few mothers say they regret the name they chose. So have fun and get creative!
Now that you know how to pick the perfect name, read our baby name lists. Cheers to choosing the perfect baby name!