Having a baby is an amazing experience. Everything about it from creation (obvs) to birth just turns your heart into this giant balloon filled with love and emotion that keeps growing bigger and going higher. Every day is beautiful and rewarding, even when it’s punctuated with crying and dirty diapers.
But you’ve got some homework leading up to all those long nights and fulfilling days once your baby is born. Aside from all the personal research and planning you’ll be doing to ensure you’re bringing your baby into the best environment and situation possible, you’re also probably starting to think of baby names, or you might already have names but could be starting to second guess yourself, which is completely normal.
Here are 10 things you need to know when choosing your baby’s name:
1. Not everyone will love your choice, and that’s ok
When it comes to your baby’s name, everyone will have an opinion. The important thing is to not let their opinion influence you too much. If your partner and you love a name but your oldest friend breaks eye contact and stares into the distance when you tell them, don’t be dismayed. Names are incredibly personal to people. We attach huge weight to names of people who’ve played major roles in our own lives, so much so that some names can be ruined for us forever.
Ultimately it’s your choice and nobody else can or should decide it for you.
2. The past is the past, except when it’s the future
As mentioned in the first point, names are really, really personal to people. If you have a negative association with a name but your partner loves it, you need to speak up. Likewise, if your partner isn’t a fan of a name you like because of a negative association they have to it, you may want to let it go. Having a baby is a fresh start to make new memories. Whatever’s in the past should stay in the past.
3. You should say the full name out loud as much as possible
Can you easily pronounce the full name 5 times fast? Can you say just the first name in a variety of different tones with conviction? Can you imagine yourself as your future child, introducing themself to a potential employer or to a large group of people? Just because that popular character in that movie you loved rocked that name, doesn’t mean it’s a perfect fit for your baby.
There’s no quicker way to tell if you really love a name than by running through those scenarios out loud.
4. It’s a foundation you’re building for your child and the future person they’ll become
In Johnny Cash’s song, “A Boy Named Sue”, he sings of being picked on his whole life because the meanest thing his daddy ever did before running out on the family was name him Sue. It’s not until later in his life that he learns his dad gave him that name as a favour because he’d “have to get tough or die”. As a parent your job is to not only create a life for your child but give them the opportunity to make the most of it without unnecessary hurdles.
Sure, a name’s just a name but if you’re contemplating a “unique” name for your child, ask yourself: would you be comfortable if it was your name?
5. Variety is the spice of life
With point #4 in mind, don’t be afraid to be different. Pretty sure the world has enough Mikes by now.
6. Have a Plan B
When having a baby, almost nothing goes to plan. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
So if you’re electing to not know the gender of your baby until birth, you might want to think of a few different names for both boys and girls just in case. If you’re going with a gender neutral name you still might want to have a few different options because you really won’t know what name is right for your child until you set eyes on them for the first time.
7. Create lists with your partner and play Name Survivor
So Name Survivor may not actually be a thing, but something like it is a good way to see how committed you are to the names you’ve come up with.
About halfway through the pregnancy, both you and your partner come up with 10 names each (5 boy names, 5 girl names) and then take an evening to share with each other one at a time. Then shorten your list to just 6 names total by voting 4 off each. This will give you your top 3 names each. Between that time and the baby’s birth, try to repeat the process to refine your list until you have 2 names each: 1 boy, 1 girl. Between those 4 names, you should have the ‘winner’ and the Plan B though you may not actually decide on the name until after the baby’s born.
Some names you thought you liked will quickly wilt under the scrutiny of your partner who cares just as much about your baby’s name as you and names you didn’t think they would like might spark something in them. It’s a fun and exciting way to collaborate and work as a team with positive intentions for your child. Whether you decide to share your lists with anybody else is up to you, just remember point #1 though.
8. It’s a democracy, not a dictatorship
You’re going to come up with names that you absolutely love and your partner might hate, and vice versa. The important thing is to approach naming your baby with respect for not only your baby but also your partner. This is especially important when deciding what, if any, the child’s middle name will be. Tradition stipulates that the middle name should be one of the grandparents’ first name. This can be a tricky conversation to navigate so the more you can approach it as a team the better your relationship will be for it. The last thing your baby needs is you and your partner fighting over something that should be fun and enjoyable. Compromise and empathy are important qualities to have when both of you have strong opinions and long lists of names each.
Ultimately it shouldn’t be just one person’s decision with no questions asked. It’s not 1950.
9. Do some research
Every name has a story, so take the time to research name meanings and learn the history of the names you like for your child. Sometimes the meaning is enough to sway your decision one way or another. Doing research can also open up options to other names that might be similar to names you already somewhat like but are just different enough to win you over.