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Choosing a Baby’s Name

Published March 21, 2008        by Nicole

We put it on their door, or their personalized baby blankets but how do we come up with their baby name?

Choosing an appropriate name for your baby may not be as easy as you expected. Husbands and wives are not always in agreement about the choice of a first name or even a middle name. You will certainly have plenty of names-and suggestions of names- from which to choose. Sometimes compromise is the best solution.

Naming customs vary from culture to culture, yet name giving is as universal as language. In America we are very democratic about naming babies; mothers and fathers listen to family, friends, strangers, and their own impulses before bestowing a name on their newborn.

Many of our names come from the Bible, which means they are often of Greek or Hebrew origin. Our most common biblical names-John, James, Mary, Ruth, Mark, Rebecca, Joseph, Susan, David, Daniel, Jason, Matthew Judith, and their variations-count for more than fifty per cent of our forenames. Another large group is derived from the Teutonic [or Germanic] languages. These include such names as, William, Brenda, Roger, Frederick, Caroline, and Emily.Our last names, or surnames, have long been used as first or middle names. English, Teutonic, and Norse surnames, including Ashley, Marion, Clayton, Kimberly, Adair, Shirley, and Mildred are commonly given as first names. And the lines between masculine and feminine names are also blurring. Names like Pat, Chris, Leslie, Robin, Sydney, Lee and Hilary could all raise the question whether a letter should begin “Dear Ms.” Or “Mr.”

Along with the Bible, our families provide the source for baby names. These traditions can pass on such interesting first or middle names as Taylor, Tyler and Huntington. And the maiden name of the mother is often given to a child as middle names as to keep the family name alive.While you are free to name your child according to tradition, family custom, or creative impulse, consider first your responsibility in bestowing an appropriate name and then think about the following:

  • Is the name easily spelled and pronounced?
  • What nicknames or pet names can be derived from it?
  • Do the initials form a word? Is that word objectionable or apt to be embarrassing?
  • Is the name so unusual that it will draw undesired attention?
  • Be sure the name fits the gender of the child.
  • Give full names rather than diminutives; Robert Joseph is preferable to Bobby Joe.
  • Use care in naming your baby for well known personalities; celebrities fade or fall out of favor and your child will be left with a dated or unpopular name.
  • Consider how your choice of a first name flows with the last name, particularly if your last name is hyphenated.
  • Avoid choosing a first name that becomes “cute” in conjunction with your last name [Barbie Doll, Sandy Rhodes, Holly Wood].
  • Finally, both parents should agree on the name - as much in advance of the delivery as possible.

Many baby books are available, should you feel a need for outside help in your decision. Read them, make notes, and discuss your reactions with your partner. Your child will appreciate your thoughtfulness.