Child Development: Baby Names
Guide to Chosing a Baby Name
One of the most important things you will ever do for your child is choosing his or her name. Your child's name will be a reflection of character and identity.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a baby name. The following list should prove useful for parents who are searching for the perfect name for their baby.
In your search for the perfect baby name, you'll find that very few names meet all the criteria suggested here. However, once you decide on your priorities for a name, it should be easy to find several that meet most of them. These suggestions should provide guidance, but remember that choosing a name is very emotional - the most important thing is that you love the name. Good luck.
- Sound: The general sound and rhythm of the name is very important. Over the years you will say the name and your child will hear it over and over again. You need to ask yourself does the name sound pleasing when you say it aloud, and how does it sound with your surname and with the middle names you are considering. If you have other children, how does the name you are considering sound when said with their names?
- Uniqueness: It is hard to find the perfect balance between finding a name that is unique and special but doesn't seem too strange. You will have to determine your priorities. There are benefits and disadvantages to both having a common name and a very unique name. Common names are easily spelled and recognized and may cause your child less problems in the schoolyard in early years. Having a unique name, however, may make your child stand out and feel extra special.
- Popularity: Baby names tend to follow trends and cycles of popularity. Aside from the extremely common names that have always been popular, names that are currently very trendy are likely to go out of style. When choosing a baby name, try to be objective and be sure that this name will sound as good in fifty years as it does today. It might also cause some hardship for your child to find that there are three other children in the same class with the identical name. Some parents look for extremely rare names to avoid the problem of overly popular names, while still others try to find a name that is fairly popular, yet not overly trendy.
- Associations: Many parents feel that it is very important to find a name that conjures positive or meaningful associations. What do you think of when you hear the name? You may want to choose a name that reminds you of someone or something or a place that is significant to you.
- Meaning: While you won't think of the meaning of your child's name every day, it may be important to choose a baby name with a positive meaning since it will sometimes be associated with your child. You can also choose meanings that reflect qualities and traits that you hope your child will possess. Or you can choose meanings that are significant to you for any reason.
- Origin: There are no rules that state that you can choose a name only from your own ethnic origin. Many parents are now finding beautiful and interesting baby names from a wide variety of ethnic and historical origins. You may, however, find that the right name from your own heritage provides an added source of identity for your child.
- Nicknames: Before you choose the name you adore, think about the possible ways it can be shortened and the nicknames that may result. Do you like the potential nicknames your baby may have? If not, you or your child can always insist on using the formal name. If the name lends itself to a very undesirable nickname, however, you may want to reconsider. Conversely, if the name lends itself to many positive nicknames, this is a definite plus.
- Spelling and Pronunciation: Many unusual names are difficult to spell or pronounce because people are unfamiliar with them. This does not necessarily mean that you should not choose a unique name that you love on the basis that it could be difficult to spell or pronounce, but when ranking names, it is a factor to consider. Similarly, creative spellings or pronunciations of popular names will have your child constantly correcting those that mistake it with its more popular counterpart.
- Initials: As you narrow your search, it is also a good idea to be sure that your baby's initials don't spell or represent anything undesirable.
- Gender Identification: Some people think it is very important that a name has a clear gender identification, while others find it less important. Many names are ambiguous. If you decide that it is important that your child have a name with a clear gender identification, you will probably want to rule out those names that are being used for both boys and girls.
- Family and Friends: Once you have found what you believe is the perfect baby name, you may be anxious to discuss it with your friends and relatives. You can expect to get mixed reviews. Some people like to get feedback from others, but bear in mind that there will always be someone who opposes your choice and this can make finding a name very frustrating. You may even want to resist announcing your choices until after your baby is born to avoid that situation.