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Sophia, Caleb, or Riley? Choosing a Baby Name That’s Right for Your Family

March 2, 2012

Selecting a name for your baby is one of the more creative and fun tasks on your list as your due date gets closer. The sky is the limit, as parents get more and more inventive with the names they choose. But the options can make your head spin! Are you a fan of trendy baby names like Jacob, Olivia, and Ava? Celebrity-inspired monikers like Apple, Violet, and Coco? Maybe you’d prefer to stick with Old Testament stand-bys like Samuel, James, or Hannah. You can take the ultra-personal route, and name your baby after a beloved relative, or give them a name that has some significance in your culture.

The first step is brainstorming! Keep a sheet of paper on your coffee table for a few days, and every time you or your partner thinks of a name you like, write it down. Need inspiration? Check out a few websites that are bursting with ideas. Visit the Baby Name Wizard for a map that charts the most popular names by state, and a graph that marks the popularity of baby names throughout history. Or check out Nymbler, which offers suggestions to you based on names you already know you like.

Once you’ve reviewed the list together, vetoed any names that either of you find intolerable, and picked a few winners, try them out with the baby’s last name. Do the names sounds right together? And what’s more, will you get tired of this name eventually? A couple we know wrote the various names they were considering on post-it notes, and stuck them all over the house. They even used the baby names in sentences, like, “Remember to give Stella her bottle!” or “Pick up Asher from daycare.” Seeing the names in context and used over and over, throughout the house, gave them a better idea of which names felt right. Plus, it helped them to determine whether each name had the potential to be picked apart or made fun of in the future!

And though it might be tempting, you may want to limit the number of people whose advice you seek on baby names. Everyone has a set of names that are meaningful to them for some reason, but their ideas of what works may not work for you! Plus, if you love the name Nicholas, but your co-worker’s ex-husband’s name is Nicholas, she’ll let you know that she can’t stand that name. You don’t really need everyone’s personal history with specific names cluttering your decision-making. If your brother-in-law hates the name Alice because he knew an Alice once who was unpleasant, he’ll just have to learn to love the name once he associates it with your little one!

Good luck, have fun, and trust your instincts! If a name has significance for you and you enjoy saying it, seeing it, and hearing it, then you can feel confident in your choice.

Photography courtesy of Flickr.

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