Naming your baby is probably one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime. You are choosing a moniker for your child that will define them for the rest of their lives. Depending on baby naming trends of the year, some people choose popular names while others decide to go the original or classic route. Whichever way you decide to go, here are a few tips about naming your baby that will help you avoid landing your child with a name that may cause them grief in the future.
1) Beware the trendy name
The thing about trendy names is that you can be sure that your child will have at least two other kids in their class by the same name. Every woman in my demographic probably has at least five friends named Jen/Jenny/Jennifer. While I thought ‘Chloe’ was a name that wasn’t overused, my daughter ended up going through elementary school as ‘Chloe G’. So while trendy names may seem new to you, check out the past few years of popular name trends to see where your favourite picks may land on the list. I grew up as the only kid named Scarlett around—but for 2016 my name is 28th on the list. While it’s a classic name, it hadn’t ever become very popular, until now.
2) Pop culture might bite your baby in the bum
Sure, Miley (Cyrus) may not be making records by the time your daughter is her age, but it’s worth thinking about why you chose the name in the first place. Did you always love the name Daenerys, or have you recently fallen into a Game of Thrones binge-watching hole? Plus, what’s good for an A-list celebrity might not be good for you. Just because Gwyneth Paltrow called her daughter Apple, doesn’t mean it’ll work for mere mortals. If you still can’t decide, try the Office-Introduction-Test; imagine your daughter on her first day at work. If ‘Coco’ suddenly sounds a little silly around the water cooler, perhaps it’s time for a rethink…
3) Use the BabyPost baby naming tool
You might have some ideas already, but there are hundreds of names that you’ve probably never even thought about before that could be perfect for your baby. Use our baby name tool and search alphabetically and by gender.
4) Watch out for unusual spellings
While it may seem like a good idea to spin an original name with an unusual spelling, you will be saddling your kid with correcting people for the rest of their lives. I often see people spelling classic names like ‘Tristan’ with something like ‘Tristyn’—which looks cute but you can bet that your child will be spending a lot of time with their name spelled or pronounced incorrectly. Unless you are a famous family where every name has to start with a K (see: ‘Khloe’, ‘Kourtney’, ‘Kylie’), unusual spellings are generally a nuisance.
5) Naming after a family member
Some families have a tradition where a firstborn is named after their father or mother. While this is an honourable tradition, remember that if two people are living in the same household for any length of time, having the same name could be a problem. My cousin and his father had the same first and last name and eventually, the younger got sick of being mistaken for his Dad. He decided to go by his second name, especially on social media platforms. Naming your child after any family member isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to the comparison game, which may not be something you want your kid to deal with. Think long and hard about who you are naming them after.
6) Don’t keep it to yourself
Sometimes parents-to-be feel like they have to keep their choices to themselves, for fear of others not liking or perhaps ‘stealing’ the name. However, it is a good rule of thumb to tell at least a few people. There just may be some strange quirk about the name, the spelling, or the name combination that you and your partner have not yet thought of. I had a friend who named her child Philip and their last name was McCracken. When he started going by ‘Phil’ as a young adult….well you can figure out the rest!
7) Don’t feel pressure to decide right away
For the best part of nine months, you’ve been whittling down your top picks for baby names. But when you little girl or boy arrives, suddenly ‘Joshua’ seems ridiculous or there’s absolutely no way she’s a ‘Gemma’! While there is a fair bit of pressure to decide on a name before you leave the hospital, it’s much better to give yourself some time and space to make sure it’s one you really love. Until then, ‘Baby Girl’ will just have to suffice…
8) Trust your gut
Ultimately, only you can make the decision, and external factors and circumstances can’t be controlled. So choose what YOU (read: not your mom or co-worker or best friend) love and be confident! Haters will learn to love it when they meet your little bundle of joy, and the rest, as they say, is history!
Baby naming is part of our cultural expression, and all parents-to-be, no matter who they are and what demographic, want to give their child a name that is meaningful. Choosing unusual names can be risky, yet sometimes can serve as a catalyst for creative expression in your child—as it was for me growing up with the name Scarlett. Just remember that naming your child after a movie, a planet, a country or an Instagram filter may seem like a good idea at the time, but whatever you choose will affect your child for the rest of their life.