How To Pick a Baby Name

Today, we're going to discuss some tips on picking a baby name. This is not just for people expecting a baby- that's my first tip, actually. Start BEFORE the kid is a reality. You don't need the hormones and stress that a baby brings getting in the way of you finding a name you love.

Granted, I do not claim to be an expert here. I'm currently pregnant with my first child, and while her name is picked out...she isn't actually here yet. She's currently taking up space in my belly. But she is named. And picking out her name was a relatively easy process. So take my advice with a grain of salt, but I do feel it's worth consideration.

Some of these are personal things I just think helped the overall name picking process. Some are things I whole-heartedly believe from having worked in both medical and educational records. Trust me, I say these things to make your life/your child's life/anyone who has to deal with your child in a professional manner's life.

The Dos:
  • Start before you are expecting! 
    • For seriously. I have been considering kids names since I was a teenager- maybe before. They've changed a lot over the years (I'm great at predicting a trend, apparently) but I'm glad I didn't start at ground zero once the stick turned blue.  
    • Pick a direction or general theme or some kind of starting point.
      • My hubby and I both have Celtic ancestry, so we started there. We also knew we didn't want a super common name...because we both have super common names (I may have pushed this more than him...I don't remember, but it is something I feel really strongly about and he agrees although perhaps not as vehemently). It was much easier to have a theme to go to rather than picking things out of the air.  
      • Yell it out loud.
        • You're going to scream your kids name at some point. Maybe you will be the super amazing parent who never looses their temper...even then you'll probably yell it when you loose sight of them at the grocery store for 5 seconds. It'll happen- you want it to flow.
          • This is the point where you also ensure it flows with a middle name, and last name. It needs to sound good in all of these arrangements: First+Middle, First+Last, and First+Middle+Last.
        • Consider the monogram.
          • Some people don't care about monograms or initials...but if you see a monogram that says's not good. Or Just no.
          •  Consider the nicknames.
            • Over Christmas my MIL mentioned a nickname that she would 100% be calling the baby. She made a comment basically going "You know this is going to happen, right?" Um, yeah. If I didn't like the nickname, I wouldn't have named her that! People who MUST be called their full name (or MUST be called their nickname) are super annoying. Prepare for a nickname, be sure you like that as much as the name itself. 

            The Don'ts:

            • No hypens. Or any other form of punctuation. 
              • There's no place for that in a name. This goes for first and last names. It's just annoying, as you will find out with EVERY LEGAL DOCUMENT EVER.  
              • Don't give your kid two of anything. 
                • No two first names, or two middle names, or two last names. At least in America, okay? Just give them three flipping names.
                • If you want to name your child Mary Ann, make it MaryAnn or better yet Marianne. JoAnn versus Jo Ann. Just make it ONE FREAKIN' WORD.
                •  Don't pick a crazy spelling of a normal name.
                  • Either pick a super unique name, or accept a traditional spelling. You're trying to have it both ways and it sucks. Trust me, I know because my name is one of the top 3 for my birth year and there's like 12 different ways to spell it and IT DRIVES ME BATTY. 
                  •  Don't name them something you have no intention of calling them.
                    • This includes middle names that you want your child to go by, and nicknames.
                      • If you want your child to be known by their middle name...make it their first name!
                      • If you want your child to be Evie instead of Evangeline, name her Evie! There is no need for an "adult" version of a name, if she is going to spend the first 12+ years being called solely a nickname. You'll give them a friggin' identity crisis, and if she decides to take her husband's last name one day (or wife's, I guess) she will probably just change her first name too (or drop it all together if you've called her by her middle name) making her life's paper trail super annoying to follow.
                    • Nicknames are a term of endearment for those you are close to, not a requirement for the rest of the world. If you name your child John and call him Hank, your pediatrician's new receptionist is going to have a lot of trouble scheduling an appointment for "Hank" because he is definitely listed as "John" in the computer system because THAT'S HIS LEGAL NAME.
                      • Yes, I may be speaking from experience here. 
                  •  Juniors, Thirds, etc are not worth anything at all.  
                    • Give the kid a family middle name and move on. Or a first name with a different middle.
                    •  Especially if you all go to the same doctor or college, etc. It's SO CONFUSING. Some forms just don't have places for Jr, or III, and especially if the first one isn't willing to put Sr there (which you probably haven't been doing your whole life anyway). Your child deserves his/her own personal identifier.

                  • Don't "steal" a name.
                    • I've heard some people say that you can't really do this...but you can. We all know it. This is why I'm really hesitant to put my baby's name out there online (along with security reasons), or to tell anyone the boy name we have in place. Obviously, I think a LOT about baby names, and other people do to. If you just hear a name from someone and use it before they really does feel like a betrayal. Maybe it wasn't on purpose- that happens. But if you know someone in your life has their hopes on a specific name for their little one, back off. Stretch your creative muscles and get to thinking!
                  •  Don't expect expecting parents to give a crap about YOUR opinion of their child's name.
                    • People get way too involved in other people's pregnancies. If you don't like a name, who cares?! If you want them to use a specific name (especially your own), who cares?! It's not your place. Let the parents choose the name and STFU about it.

                  So there you go. Some of these seem harsh- I'm okay with that. It's an important decision! But here is my final and most important piece of advice:

                  Stick to your guns!

                  We already had a boy and girl name picked out when I found out I was pregnant. We told a few select people, but announced her name after we found out the gender. It was decided, we weren't wavering, we weren't interested in anyone's opinion. That was IT. Some people go even further and don't tell anyone until the baby is actually born and the birth certificate is signed.

                  Some people feel super opinionated about names (clearly, I can be one of them). That being said, I've read way to much about drama between friends and family over this. Discuss with your partner, find what works for you, and let any negative comments roll of your back.

                    1 comment

                    1. As someone who is not even sure if I want kids ever, I actually really like this. I too have been considering baby names (mostly girl names honestly -- they're more fun for some reason) since I was a teenager. One of my favorites hasn't changed in 10 years, so if I ever have a daughter that will probably be her name.

                      The only thing I'm going to disagree with is the no two first names thing. There's one name I really like that is two words. I know it will be a pain in some circumstances, but it sounds so darn pretty! Haha of course I may change my mind if it ever becomes reality.

                      I agree with not choosing a super common name. I used to hate my name as a kid, but I've grown to like it because there aren't a lot of people out there with my name. And yeah, some names have way too many spellings. Your name in particular I've seen spelled Brittney, Brittni, Britney, Britnee, etc. Don't get me started on Caitlin... Caitlin, Caitlyn, Kaitlin, Katelyn. When will the madness end?