What’s the second question everybody asks you when you announce there’s a new baby on the way? After clamouring to know if you’re having a boy or a girl (or both), they immediately want to know all the names on your shortlist, of course!
But what if you don’t have any? What if you only have a list of names you absolutely don’t want because you have that one second- cousin- twice- removed from your aunt’s fourth marriage who you absolutely can’t stand and there’s no way on earth you’d saddle your baby with that name? Here's the do's and don'ts when it comes to choosing your baby's name:
Do: Fall in love with the name(s) you’ve chosen
Pick a name that makes you smile, because if you love it, hopefully your child will too – and won’t grow up resenting and hating you with all their being. (That was a little joke.) Relax and get picking.
Do: Try it out
While you’re pregnant, talk to your baby using their name to see if they respond. You can also try writing names down, practising a few signatures, or saying one out loud enough times to see if you ever get sick of it. Don’t forget to say it aloud with the surname attached to make sure it feels right.
Don’t: Listen to other people
Sometimes grandparents and friends offer baby-naming advice, which may not always be welcome. If you’ve got your heart set on a name, keep it a secret until after the birth to avoid any unnecessary criticism. Trust your own instincts – they’ll come in handy for parenting in general.
Do: Find a name with meaning
Choosing a name that is rooted in history or folklore might just inspire your little one to be as great as their namesake. There’s research to suggest this inspirational rub- off effect has real legs, so even if you pick a name out of the air, consider making something up to tell them later!
Do: Have fun
Picking out names should be fun. Laughing at the ones you’d never dream of choosing can really help you to narrow it down to the ones you would. There’s time later for thinking through whether bizarre names will actually give your little one a headache when they have to spell it every time they say it. See page 48 for more on this.
Do: Expand your mind
Don’t rule out the weird ones just yet! Be brave and bold if that’s what you want, but just in case you get it massively wrong (definitely a possibility, let’s face it) you might want to give them a simpler middle name so they can jump ship to that instead.
Dont: Pick the name of an ex
No matter how lovely you think your ex’s name is, it would take a very understanding partner to allow you to pick it for your kid. Just steer clear of any names you know will cause problems to other people, paying particular attention to your partner and loved ones.
Do: Try and agree
This is probably the trickiest problem to solve. Research a number of names that you and your partner both like, and make a point of discussing them long before the baby is due. Arguing about it in the delivery room isn’t a great first impression to give to junior.
Pick two middle names so that you each have one in there that you love, or you could each have five names that you’re allowed to veto – but no more. Whichever way you go about it, it’s important that you eventually agree on the name you are giving your baby, even if it means losing out on the one you’ve had your heart set on for a while.