How Do You Choose A Baby Name?
Some people have a list of baby names they love, which they’ve known for years.
Other people have absolutely no idea. That’s me. I’m other people.
So how do you go about choosing a name for your unborn child? It feels like an insane amount of pressure to choose a name for another person. Yes, if they truly detest your choice then they could change it when they’re older but the likelihood is they’ll have their name for life.
Celebrities don’t help the matter; they come up with names that used to just be nouns like Apple, Bunny and Petal. Any old word is up for grabs if you’re a celebrity; be it Cricket or Pilot. And let’s not even get started on Elon Musk’s X Æ A-12…. Prizes available for correct pronunciation!
There are thousands of potential names out there, so here are some ideas I’ve tried to help narrow down the choice.
Rule out the definite ‘No’ options
This is perhaps the easiest part of choosing a baby name. You’ll have an endless list of names that can be excluded immediately.
They could be names of other immediate family members or names of their pets. You’ve never realised how many people you dislike until you try and choose a name!
All of the people you hated in school? Off the list.
The work colleagues you can’t stand? Off the list.
That person who said something mean to you 20 years ago, but you just can’t let it go? Off the list.
Consider their full name and initials
This one is important. What will their surname be? That may rule out several options when you realise that you are about to name your child after a celebrity. Our surname is Frost, and so I’ve had to veto the name Jack.
It’s also worth considering what their initials will be if you’re using middle names as well. Amelia Rose Sienna Edwards could be a lovely name; until the dear child has to write their initials in school…
Research your family tree
Names are often carried on throughout the generations, and it can be a lovely way to commemorate a much-loved family member. By researching your ancestry, you can also discover some new ideas which you may not have considered previously. There are many ways to do so and it helps if you know all your grandparent’s names.
You may have a family tradition you want to uphold, such as using the father’s name as a middle name. The names may also inspire you into choosing a modernised version e.g. Teddy instead of Edward. You can sign up to sites such as ancestry to start your research.
Use an app
One of the methods we’ve used is a naming app. There is one called Kinder which takes its inspiration from the well-known dating app Tinder.
You and your partner both log on and provide your surname, and you can narrow it down by sex if you know it (we don’t).
The app then displays a baby name above your surname, and you either give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. There are hundreds of names in there, but the important thing is that it tells you when you ‘match’ with your partner.
It keeps all the names in a list, that both you and your partner have said they like, which really helps narrow down the list. Although proceed with caution; it may lead to arguments when they have given your favourite name a big thumbs down!
Consider favourite films and books
Another way to choose a baby name is to go through your favourite film or book series. It may provide you with an idea that is meaningful to you; for example a character in the first film you saw together. Taking inspiration from a film you’ve loved for years could be a way to ensure you are still going to like the name in years to come.
Try not to get too carried away though, your future child may not appreciate going through life as a Hagrid or Gandalf!
Browse the most popular baby names lists
You can easily access the Top 100 boys and girls names lists for the UK. There’s a reason that some of those names have been in the top 10 for a number of years, and that’s because they’re well-loved, wholesome names.
However, there is a possibility that they end up in a classroom full of people with the same name. I was in a class of four Sarah’s one year but you quickly establish nicknames (Sarah 1, Sarah 2…). Once out of school, you mix a lot with other age groups and having the same first name as someone else doesn’t matter.
If you specifically don’t want to choose a popular name then this method also helps because you can rule out the Top 25 for example, and choose something further down the list.
Keep your baby name choice a secret
Once you’ve made your choice the best thing you can do is to keep it between yourselves.
If you tell people, they will take it as an invite to provide you with their opinion. If you thought your list of people you disliked was long; wait until other people start telling you theirs. They’ll also manage to come up with nicknames that you never would have considered!
Grandparents are notoriously bad for disapproving of names, despite the fact they’ll love the baby once it arrives. If you choose to share, just don’t be surprised if you’re hit with comments like ‘that’s a dogs name’.
One thing I definitely won’t be doing…
Is choosing a baby name that needs an explanation of how to spell it. You may think you’re being quirky by changing the traditional spelling of a name but you’re not. You’re setting that child up for a lifetime of having to spell their name for other people. Nobody wants to have to say ‘that’s Ysabelle with a Y’ or ‘my name is Finlee, with two ee’s’.
Using these methods has helped us to get from 1000s of name options to a list of around 20, although this list is ever-evolving. I’m not sure that any decision will have been made by the time of birth either. Perhaps it will be nicer to wait until we’ve met the baby and can choose a name to suit it.
I’d love to know if you have any hints or tips which helped you to choose a baby name. Or if you have any regrets and why?
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