That being said, there are certain “baby naming rules” that are worth following, lest you have a moment of what were we thinking? down the road. And baby-name regret is one of the worst kinds of regrets.
The popular Baby Name Blog Nameberry recently rounded up a list called “No Dumb Names: And 21 Other Baby Name Rules Worth Following.” Here are 10 of my favorite must-follow rules for naming your baby:
1. Family/personal significance trumps popularity. If you really wanted to name your daughter Sophia after your Great Grandmother, and both you and your partner love that name, don’t let a popularity list stop you. It’s more important to love your baby’s name — to choose the best name for your child — than it is to avoid the trends. Because if there’s personal significance then it will never be trendy.
2. Make sure your baby’s initials won’t spell something negative. Think this one through, folks.
3. The last letter of the first name shouldn’t be the same first letter of the last name. For instance, I have a friend whose last name is Snykus, so she had to rule out any baby names that ended in “S” because the last name would sound like Nykus. (Iris Snykus becomes Iris Nykus.) Even my first and middle names — Michelle Leigh — awkwardly blend together to sound like “Michelley”. My parents obviously didn’t think about that.
4. Think about nicknames. Again, speaking from example, my mother cringed whenever someone called me “Shelley” or “Shell” because that’s not what she named me. If you really despise an obvious nickname (Ben for Benjamin, Eddie for Edward, Maddie for Madeline), re-think the name choice. Because there’s a good chance that the nickname could stick.
5. Each child’s name should sound different (or at least not have the same nickname!). Nameberry uses the examples “Carter, Carson, and Carly,” but my family went even further with this no-no rule: My Grandfather’s name is Patrick and my Great Aunt’s name is Patricia. They went by the names “Buddy” and “Cookie” (even now, 80-some-odd years later!) — obviously to avoid the “Pat” overlap.
6. Don’t pick a name that you’ll have to forever pronounce and explain to people. I always think of the poor kids in school who spent weeks of their life correcting substitute teachers during roll call.
7. Come to a consensus with your partner. Some couples decide that the mom will have more say over the girl’s name and the dad will have more say over a boy’s name — and that’s fine — but just come to a mutual agreement. It’s not fair to bully your partner into agreeing to a name that doesn’t sit well with him/her.
8. Don’t let anyone pressure you into or out of a baby name. Maybe there’s a specific family name that you’re being pressured into using. Or maybe your mother’s incessant nagging and criticism finally got to you. Whatever the reason for being talked out of your gut-feeling name choice, Nameberry cites this as the #1 reason for name regret. Solution: Don’t tell anyone your name choices ahead of time! All of the nay-sayers and eye-rollers will have only positive associations once they meet your little one.
9. Choose a name with some kind of meaning. Whether it’s a family association, literary heroine, positive meaning, an homage to your heritage, or even just a childhood favorite. Choosing a name that means something to you will prevent the kind of name regret that might come from picking a “trendy” name that just sounds nice.
10. Choose a name that will grow with your child’s age and personality. You know how people say “Well with a name like _____, what did you expect?” Don’t do that to your kid. Your child’s name should have the flexibility to be a lawyer or an artist; a 2-year-old in pigtails or a 50-year-old executive.
Read all of Nameberry’s 21 Baby Name Rules.