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Baby Naming Tips

Picking your baby’s name is not always easy. The experience ranges from joyful, to emotional, to sometimes frustrating. This list of baby naming tips should help you to avoid common pitfalls, and to enjoy the process in a positive way.

  1. Start looking at baby names early. You are likely to change your mind often, so the more time you allow, the easier it will be.
  2. Use the internet. There are lots of great resources online, from baby name lists, to articles about the meanings and origins of names, to forums.
  3. Think about your baby’s first day of grade school. Don’t pick a name that may be teased on the schoolyard.
  4. Think about baby’s first day at work. Hard as it may be to imagine, it will arrive. Don’t saddle your child with a name that will be an embarrassment.
  5. Classic is classic for a reason. Classic means time-tested, well-loved. Classic names always work well.
  6. Don’t be too trendy or cool. For example, Brittany was # 3 on the popularity charts in 1990. Today, it doesn’t make the top 50. Tastes and fashions change.
  7. Unique is fine – but not too unique. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a distinctive name. It can convey a positive sense of independence and strength. Naming your daughter Ariana is good. Naming her Drusilla is stretching it. For more on this topic, take a look at our unique baby names article.
  8. When it comes to placenames, you have to be careful. Dakota is a true native American name, steadily growing in popularity. Milwaukee, on the other hand, really is a city in the Midwest, and best left that way.
  9. Naming your baby after a relative is common in many cultures. You may want to think about naming your child after a parent, a grandparent, etc.
  10. Using surnames as first names can be risky. People will never know if it's the child's first name or last name.
  11. Don’t make it all depend on a middle name. Geri Halliwell, formerly of the Spice Girls, named her daughter Bluebell Madonna Halliwell, which at least has a nice rhythm. But when the middle name is left out, she will be left with Bluebell Halliwell.
  12. Double gender names such as Corey, Brett, Dale, and so forth, while they may be perfectly good names, present risk. The risk is that over time, the name will become more male, or more female, leaving the losing gender with a potentially embarrassing name.
  13. Pay attention to what a name may mean, even if the meaning is obscure. The biblical name Helah, for example, actually means “rust.” In this age of the internet, any meanings will be dug up by your child’s middle school friends, so be sure to do a background check on names you are considering.
  14. Spelling variants can be a stumbling block. Before you choose a name with alternate spellings, be sure you are willing to accept some confusion. Alicia, Alyssa, Alisha, and Elissa may all sound alike to some.
  15. Don’t make it too hard to pronounce. There's a reason why the Irish name Caoimhe (pronounced “kee-va”) hasn’t made it into the Top 100 yet.
  16. Make sure it works with your surname. If your last name is Tree, naming your son Ash or your daughter Jade may lead to a lifetime of teasing.
  17. Check those initials. Steven O. Brown looks fine, until Steven gets his first monogrammed shirt, S.O.B.
  18. If you’re going to make up a name, be prepared for the consequences. Felisitee may seem like the pinnacle of originality to you, but your daughter may be upset in years to come.
  19. Consider the siblings, present or planned. If you already have a daughter named Caroline, it would be a little odd to name your son Flint.
  20. You and your partner should love the name you choose. If you can’t agree on one, keep trying. (That’s why starting this process early is good).
  21. When it comes to family – inform them what your baby’s name will be, don’t let them pressure you. It’s hard enough to pick a baby name, without opening it up to a committee.
  22. Remember, there’s no such thing as perfect. Thank goodness.
  23. Finally, be proud of the name you pick. If you’ve done your research, and agonized over it, you’ve done the best you can. And that’s a special gift for your new baby.


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We strive to bring you the most authoritative meanings for the names listed. We have drawn our lists from a variety of sources.
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