11 Things That Go Through Your Head When Picking a Baby Name

image source: thinkstock
image source: thinkstock

Naming your baby may be one of the hardest tasks you’re faced with when pregnant. (You know, besides trying to figure out how to shave your legs with a 20-pound bowling ball in your way.) Not only is it something that lasts forever, it’s something you and your partner have to agree on. Plus, there are about 1,497 other factors involved in picking a single name, the following list not all-encompassing. Trust me, I know. We didn’t decide on a name until after our kid was born. I have a first name for a last name, and my son’s name falls in weird-but-not-terribly-weird territory. It could potentially fall into a gender-neutral gray area, and I repeat (and spell) it often to friends and family. Here’s a few things we learned along our naming journey. Obviously I didn’t always listen to my own advice, which is the biggest piece of advice I have for you: All that matters is that you like it. That being said, here are a few things that ran through my head when choosing a baby name for my son.

1. Exes

Your spouse could have had your baby named even before you were married, but if it’s the name of either one of your exes, it’s an automatic veto.

2. Nicknames

It could be an awesome name, but if the inevitable nickname associated with it is horrendous, it’s a no-go. (Don’t think just because you’re choosing the name Richard, you’re making everyone everywhere promise to never call him Dick.) One of my most-liked names in the history of ever would be turned into a nickname that’s totally fine, but also happens to be a normal name I hate. It was immediately crossed off the list, despite my undying love for the unadulterated version.

3. Kids you know with that name

Whether it’s kids you know currently or kids you knew growing up, you’re likely to associate the name with that person, which knocks … oh, about another 1,500 names off the list.

4. Hollywood popularity

Or pop culture in general. Or politics. Is your name choice the character in a movie or TV show? Chances are it could skyrocket in popularity and your kid will end up being known by their last initial. Is it going to be the next Bella or Elsa? Better yet, is your chosen name going to be the name of a popular movie character that’s yet to come out? If only we could know. Beware Frozen and Hunger Games lovers.

5. Teasing probability

Does the name rhyme with anything possibly negative, even if it’s a huge stretch? Because you know the kids on the playground will figure it out. Seriously, think outside the box on this one before you make your decision. I wouldn’t be against telling a handful of elementary schoolers your potential choice and letting them have a go at it first.

6. How it sounds with your last name

You can’t change your last name, so better to adapt the first name to work with it. Sometimes alliteration works, but rhyming does not. Occasionally repeated ending syllables work, but often it just becomes a mouthful. Make sure you’ve said your kid’s chosen full name out loud before you set it in stone … er, ink. My favorite name of all times is Knox but I will never, ever be torturing a future child with this awesome name. (See my byline and say that out loud a few times.)

7. How it sounds when you yell it

I’m sure your kid is going to be absolutely perfect, but just in case, how does it sound when you’re yelling it? You know, just in case your kid is ever in trouble. Also helps for when you have to yell it across a playground or crowded public place. Somehow I’m not sure yelling, “North! North!” if your kid is lost is going to get you any help beyond a point in that general direction (and some odd looks). Also, screaming “Honey!” or “Angel!” when your kid just kicked you or threw something at you may send a mixed message. Not that your baby will ever do such a thing.

8. Last names for first names when your last name is already a first name

Especially not the same name. This seems like a given, but I know a few too many double-named folks to leave this off the list. (Case in point, our weather man is named Neil McNeill and our postman is Riley Reighly. For reals. Spelling variations do not give you a bye.)

9. Names that double as other things

Names of cars. Cities. Verbs. Food. (I’m looking at you Apple and Kale.) Descriptions. (That’d be you, CrimeFighter, Blue Ivy, and Pilot Inspektor.) Maybe this is a good time to note looking at celebrities for inspiration may not translate well in normal life.

10. Names of your other kids

Can you list your kids’ names together and not stumble or get tongue-tied? Do they sound OK together? Is there a theme, like all starting with the same letter or ending with the same sound? More importantly, do you want to continue the theme or end it? I didn’t realize it until my son was well over a year old, but all three of our names end in “er.” Oops. Our future child will be left out of this trend. Sorry, kid.

11. Spelling

Once you’ve picked a name, you have to decide how you’re going to spell it, especially if it’s a name that already comes in a litany of variations. Are you prepared to have your kid correct the spelling of it over and over for the rest of their life? My husband and I learned quickly that when we introduce our son, we over-emphasize the first syllable to make it clear or say his name and sound ridiculous when we automatically add a disclaimer, “… with a K.” Also, silent letters (and extra letters) don’t earn you any bonus points in the naming game. (See also: initials and monograms. Make sure you don’t accidentally spell a curse word or derogatory action.)

What would you add? Did you learn anything from naming your baby?

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