One of the most exciting yet most challenging parts of becoming parents can be reaching a decision as a couple on what to name your new bundle of joy. A huge decision, it was only when we attempted to name our two daughters that we realised just how many factors there are to take into account, and just how hard that choice can be!
If you’re currently expecting a baby and unsure where to start in naming your child, here are some factors you should consider.
Initials – take a moment to consider the initials that your child will have. Ideally you want to avoid anything where the initials will spell out an unpleasant word or acronym. Whilst Amy Saffron Smith might sound perfectly adorable, trust me, no one wants to be embossing A.S.S on their daughter’s school bag in the years that follow. Consider the effect of middle names, and ensure you write it down before deciding on whether or not to commit.
It’s amazing how many people you realise that you hate when you start working your way through a list of names, so where possible, avoid names that may lead to unpleasant associations from your own childhood or personal experiences. I have a few friends that are teachers or who worked in childcare, and they in particular found it very hard to find a choice without a link to somebody else’s child, particularly when they’d taught children who were badly behaved or rude.
Try shouting it – Head to your local park and yell their full name at the top of your voice (disclaimer – you don’t actually need to do this). My point of course, is that whatever you decide to call your child you are going to be shouting that name a LOT. Most of the time it will just their first name, occasionally their first and last, but on those rare occasions where they do something particularly inappropriate or naughty; their full name including their middle name will be shouted for maximum effect. If it doesn’t roll of the tongue easily or makes you feel like an idiot saying it out loud, then it probably isn’t the name for you.
Family tradition – some families have names that are passed down from generation to generation, and traditional otherwise ‘old fashioned’ names are now making a bit of a come back! Is there a name that your family have passed down, a line of boys all with the same middle name for example? Are your grandparents or great grandparents name’s something you could honour in your selection?
Spellings / pronunciation – as beautiful as some names can be, think about their spelling and pronunciation, and whether you are going to spend your entire life correcting the mispronounced names that are called out during the school register, at the doctors surgery and the incorrectly spelled cards they will receive on birthdays. A classic example – our daughter is called Neve. Whilst the traditional Irish spelling is Niamh, we decided that she would probably spend most of her life being called “Ne-ma” and as such, opted for the Danish spelling instead.
Popularity – Each year a list is published of the top 100 boys and girl’s names in your country for the previous year gone by. Whilst a popular choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you may want to avoid names in the top 10. As lovely as your choice may be, do you really want them to be one of 5 Jacobs or Olivia’s in their class at school? By the same vein, choosing a name that is extremely rare may result in stronger (and not always positive) reactions. They will also be unlikely to ever find their name on a pre-personalized pencil case (first world problems).
Meaning and inspiration – before firming up your name choices, have a quick Google to investigate any meaning behind the name – Erin, for example, means Ireland and Neve means bright. You can even do name inspiration in reverse, googling names that mean a particular theme that is important to your family.
Pet names – there are some names that no matter how hard you try to make them work, will always remind people of their pet dog. These are probably best avoided unless you want a strangers dog to appear every time your call your son’s name at the park.
At the end of the day, when deciding on a name you have to go with what’s right for you and your family. Everyone will have an opinion about name choices, and no matter how hard you try to be uncontentious yet unpredictable, you can’t and won’t be able to please everyone. If you both love the name you decide upon, who cares what others may think? Whilst some shared perspective is useful as a sounding board, the decision ultimately is yours. Good luck!