How to Pick a Baby Name: A Simple Guide for New Parents
How to Choose a Baby Name
Choosing a baby name was always a big deal for me. I mean, the name I chose for my child would be for the rest of his or her life!
By the time I was choosing a name for my third baby, I had a system down for how to pick the right name.
My Number One Tip for Picking a Baby Name
Number one tip I want to share with you: name the baby what you like, no matter what anyone else thinks.
In fact, it might be a good idea not to share the name of the baby until after the baby is born. That way, people are less likely to make a negative comment about it and make you question your choice.
However, if you’re stuck, it’s perfectly fine to reach out to family, friends, or even social media to get some opinions. Just be ready for those comments that might rub you the wrong way!Looking for baby name inspiration? Here's How to Choose the Right Name for Your Baby #babies
How to Choose the Right Name
Before you make a list of names or decide on one, you can do a few things to really get a good sense of what kind of name you’re looking for.
Here’s a list of ideas of how to choose a baby name:
Start with names you just don’t like.
Sit down with your spouse or partner and discuss names that you wouldn’t choose for your baby. Perhaps there was a show or a book that gave a bad meaning to a name. Perhaps there was a great-aunt who wouldn’t ever give you any candy, so you’d never choose that name.
For my husband and I, our list of banned names included many of our former/current students whom we taught. Naughty kids in school just kinda ruined names for us, know what I mean?
Consider your last name.
When choosing a baby name, you’d want to consider your last name. Does it have a lot of syllables? You might want to choose a name with less syllables. Is it hard to pronounce? Consider a name with an easier pronunciation. Does it begin with a vowel sound? Ending a first name with a similar vowel sound may be confusing.
Say the first name you like with the last name you have out loud to see how they sound together.
Think about your heritage and background.
Are you Italian and want to keep tradition with an Italian name? Do you prefer biblical baby names? My husband and I have a very Irish last name, and so have named our kids with Irish names that happen to have biblical meanings.
Think about favorite characters from books or movies.
Were there any characters from a book or movie who had a name that you just love?
Keep in mind that this is a very popular trend for baby names lately. Your child might end up in a classroom full of kids with the same name someday!
Speaking of trends…
Consider trends, and how unique you want the baby’s name to be.
I find that there are two camps of parents when it comes to this one: one group loves to follow the latest naming trends, and the other wants to steer clear of the latest naming trends.
You may love the names from the Top Ten Baby Names of 2018, but consider how many other kids will have the same names. If that doesn’t bother you, awesome!
Fun fact: We decided back in 2008 to name my oldest Aidan, after his father who is also Aidan and was named that since his family is very Irish. We thought we were being unique…Now tell me how many Aidans or variations of that name do you hear every day?!
If you don’t want to follow a trend, you may want to consider something unique, or even vintage (although that’s becoming a trend now too.).
Think about relative or family names.
Will your baby be a Junior? Do you want to honor a parent, grandparent, or sibling? Would you use a maiden name as a first name? Do you want to avoid offending family members by not using a family name (oh, it happens!)?
Even if you don’t like a name for a first name, perhaps you can use it as a middle name.
My name Marissa means a few different things, including honey bee, and star of the sea. It can also mean sea of bitterness…
Did you know the name Jacob means “supplanter or manipulator”? Yet, it’s still a great name for a boy if the meaning isn’t important!
You may really like a name, but perhaps the meaning is not pleasing. You can always do a search for the meaning of the name you like, or, if it doesn’t bother you, don’t worry about it!
Don’t forget about initials!
I kid you not, I know a very lovely girl with the initials H.A.M.
Consider the initials and what words they may form.
Consider spelling and/or pronunciation.
You don’t have to use traditional spellings for names or pronunciations. You can make the name unique by changing the spelling. You can also alter a name by giving it a different pronunciation than the usual.
Tip from a former teacher: don’t go too crazy with spellings or pronunciation!
People will use nicknames for your kids whether you like it or not. What could be all of the possible nicknames derived from the baby name?
You might like Richard, and the nickname Rich or Rick is okay with you, but perhaps not the older nickname that starts with a D (so, I can’t type it out in case the internet powers that be think I’m writing about something else…). You might like the name Elizabeth and be okay with the nicknames Beth, or Liz, but not Betty.
Wait until the baby is born to see his/her personality.
Believe it or not, this is something that has been done for many, many years. Parents would wait until a baby was born to see what they were like, and name them from there with a name that suits the personality.
Can you still do that? Yes! In fact, I believe you have a few days to register your baby’s name before the state starts calling him or her Baby Boy or Baby Girl.
Baby Name Lists and Baby Name Books
Okay, so now that you’ve covered the basics, where do you begin? I highly suggest buying a baby name book that you can mark up with a highlighter or pen, or searching the various sites and making a list.
Here are a few sites I like to use:
- Baby Center Baby Name Finder
- Top Baby Names from Social Security Records
- Behind the Name
- Biblical Baby Names
- Old Fashioned Baby Names
I also recommend these books (affiliate links). I love the O’Baby book for our kiddos!:
How did you choose your baby’s name?
How did you choose your baby’s name? Is there anything you did differently when choosing the name?
Feel free to share with all expecting parents!
Read next: What Should Really Be on Your Registry List