The dos and don’ts of baby naming

Written by    Last updated: March 7, 2007

Before you decide to register your baby’s name, there are some important points about naming that you may want to consider…

The dos and don'ts of baby naming

Do

  • Having plenty of choices of names makes it easier for both partners to agree on the perfect name for the baby. When considering the final options, write down at least three complete names each along with nicknames and initials.
  • Combine long first names with short last names and short first names with long last names.  If both names are long, it could be quite a mouthful to say, especially for a child. Having short first and last names could sound like two first names. However, it’s useful to remember that short names generally work better for boys, for instance, Jude Law or Brad Pitt.
  • Look up what associations a name has, especially if it’s a name that has come to you ‘out of the blue’. This is important if you can’t remember where you saw or heard it as it could turn out to be the name of a product, someone infamous or a foreign word that may be inappropriate for a first name.
  • Hold on to names in the family, as it is a wonderful way to remember those that are close to you. It also provides the child with a sense of belonging to a valuable family history and cultural heritage. There is likely to be a special bond with the person who the child is named after. You could consider giving a family name as middle name, if it’s not suitable as a first name.
  • Choose names that will offer your child a choice of names that he or she might wish to be called.  It is usually older, more classic names that already have several established nicknames associated with it, such as Liz, Lisa or Beth for Elizabeth and Mike, Mick for Michael.

Don’t

  • Start your search for names at the beginning of baby name lists.  Since the lists are usually arranged alphabetically, you will, like most people, tend to pick a name from the beginning of the alphabet and miss out on some of the more interesting names that may be further on in the list.
  • Choose names that rhyme, as this will tend to draw attention away from the name and towards the rhyming, like in Aidan Haydon. It’s important to both see how the name looks and sounds, along with any possible nicknames that might end up rhyming with the surname.
  • Try to be creative with the spelling of a traditional name in order to make it look more interesting, such as Barbra instead of Barbara.  It will end up being pronounced and spelt as the standard form anyway and cause a lifetime of inaccuracies on letters, forms and official documents.
  • Give your child a name that no one can pronounce.  Although it might have seemed creative at the time, it will draw unwanted attention to the child. This could lead to the child being given an undesirable nickname.  If you’ve set your heart on something that’s different, try to spell it as close to how it is pronounced.
  • Name your child after the latest celebrity or television star.  The chances are the name will eventually become dated.  Even worse, the celebrity could become unpopular and then your little star will remind everyone of him/her.
  • Give your child a nickname as a given first name.  It might not suit adult situations and professions; Judge Timmy doesn’t convey the gravitas that is necessary for a sombre position.
  • Forget to check whether the name makes something unintentionally amusing. This could lead to naming disasters like Ima Hogg, Susan Lugg (S.Lugg) and Zoe Iris Taylor (ZIT).  The parents of a Richard Head should have foreseen the name’s nickname, Dick, being placed in front of the surname.
  • Finally, don’t discard a name just because your best friend doesn’t like it. If you’ve checked for any possible pitfalls and still feel positive about it, the chances are it’ll be fine for your baby.

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