While some of us have a baby name chosen well before the baby is even a ‘twinkle in the eye’, for most of us, it involves short lists, discussions and even arguments. Here’s a guide to help you make this important part of having a baby, a happy experience…
Planning – don’t rush it
Few people are at their best when they find themselves under pressure. Allow yourself enough time to look at the name’s various implications, to test name ideas on others and for the name to grow on you. If, after a couple of weeks the name’s appeal begins to wane, it was perhaps not the best choice after all.
Discover the kinds of names you like by making a list of names you like the sound of. These names should not belong to anyone you know, be linked with any pre‐conception or bias. Look at the list and see if there are any similar patterns such as sounds, length, rhythm or types of names. This will help you to understand more about what kind of name appeals to you.
Context and popularity
It’s worth finding out how the chosen name fits into both present and past naming cultures. By chance you may have chosen the current most popular name, which means that when your child joins school he or she may end up sharing it with half a dozen others. Be prepared for the child to be known by his or her surname throughout education.
A name should be for all ages and not just for childhood. Imagine a wide range of contexts, situations and events, to make sure that the name has the flexibility to be both formal and familiar. It should work well in both the social and in the workplace settings. Try to picture the name being announced as the winner of the Nobel peace prize and also in an everyday context, such as calling the name across a crowded room or in a public place. If you find yourself cringing in any scenario, then it’s probably best to have a re‐think.
Names linked to present celebrities may go out of favour as soon as the celebrity does. It also tends to date the name, forever connecting it to a particular person or a period in time. If the celebrity has a larger than life personality, it could overshadow your child’s sense of individuality. Choose a name that you genuinely like, not just because it happens to be linked to someone famous.
Not about you
With the limitless options that naming offers, it’s quite easy to get carried away by it all. Rather than seeing the naming process as an opportunity to show off your creativity, try and pick the name in the same way as you would choose a loving gift: something that the recipient will find useful and value forever. Viewing it as a responsibility with lifelong implications on the future of your child will help to keep things objective.
Put it to the test
To make sure that you get a well‐rounded perspective on the chosen name, check with the following:
By writing out the name and ask friends to pronounce it, you will have an idea of how easy or difficult it is to get right. Find out if they had trouble understanding the name and how it sounds.
Ask a group of children what they think of your chosen name, as they are likely to spot any potential nicknames that may not be apparent to adults.
Enter the chosen name and all its possible variants into an internet search engine and see what people, businesses and associations come up. This is also a useful way to check on the most common spelling of the name.
Enter a forum, such as Confetti Baby, and ask others to give their opinion on the name you’ve chosen or have a poll on a selection of three to five names.
Write the name and all its variations and post it in places where you have to see it everyday and see how you feel about it after a while.
Sharing & compromise
While you may not be able to please everyone, involving those that are close to you in this joyful task will make them feel included in the process. Taking note of the opinion of your partner, friends and close relatives, creates bonding that will enrich the child’s life in the future. In case your partner feels strongly about a particular name, allow room for negotiation. Perhaps the middle name or a nickname can be a used to create a happy compromise.
Don’t stress yourself
Lastly, it’s important to remember that no matter what name you choose there’s more than a fifty percent chance that your child will hate it at some point. A dignified traditional name may be seen as boring, while a ‘creative’ colourful name may lead to incorrect pronunciation and misspelling. A name that seemed to have only positive association may suddenly appear as a character that is a buffoon or a villain on a popular sit‐com. A nickname might turn into a slang word with a really unfavourable meaning by the time they’re in their teens. Like every other well‐meaning parent, you can only do what you think is right and hope for the best…