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How to Name Your Baby

Updated on August 7, 2008

As a parent, your baby's name is the only thing you truly control, so make it count! There are so many things to consider when choosing a name it can seem overwhelming. Family tradition and personal preference both may play a role. You may want to name your baby based on a particular meaning or origin of a name. Just remember your baby's name will follow him the rest of his life and choose carefully.

If you don't know the sex of your baby in advance, that just doubles your fun, so you'll want to get started coming up with name ideas as soon as you can!

It’s All About You

Parents usually end up choosing a name for personal reasons and then only afterwards look up it's meaning. But if you're stuck between several different name options, you may want to look up the meaning of the name. I loved Sadie until I learned it was really a nickname for Sarah, which is not my favorite. It's also important to realize that names will mean different things in different languages.

If you have a negative association with a name, you will not want to name your baby that name. That may be obvious, but consider this when other interested parties are opposed to a name. They may have a good reason! Nicknames are also important for some people. However much you may love the dignity of Christina, you need to accept the fact that you may have a future Chris or Tina on your hands.

Trends in Baby Names

Surnames once were derived from the location of the family (London, York, Washington) or from the profession of the father (Smith, Gardner, Ward). Then there were the names based on family connection (Erikson, Johnson, Davidson). The first name was a place to make a statement or assert one's independence from family norms. That self expression through the given name continues today.

A trend in naming girls in recent years has been to preserve a family surname by using it as a first or middle name for a girl. That's how we originally come up with Taylor and Madison. Then it becomes a trend and people start using those names because they like the name at face value. Speaking of trends, you may want to consult an updated list of popular names. I was stuck on a girl's name until I found out it was the number one name for the prior year. No thanks.

About celebrity names - there are way too many Brittany's and I even know a little girl named Paris. Not that there's anything wrong with naming your baby after a celebrity. I'm partial to a certain Nicholas myself, but you have to think twice about names that are so associated with one person.

Experiment and Enjoy

Make a list and try out different first and middle name combinations with your last name. There's always the sure-fire yelling test - shout possible names as if you just stepped on a pile of Legos. That's always good to test the ring of it!

It's fine to poll friends and family for their opinions, but don't be easily influenced. This decision belongs to the parents. There are countless books, websites, and even software programs available to help you choose the best baby name. Don't forget to have fun!

Baby Name Resources

For a great list of baby names by origin, check out:

This site has great search capabilities and lists of the day for boys and girls:

This list is extensive:

Read more from Lela at

Read Lela's humor column, After the Bubbly at Who is Isabella?

Learn about writing with Writing Mom


Submit a Comment
  • Jim Scotty profile image

    Jim Scotty 

    10 years ago

    You've done a great job with your hub. I also have a hub on baby names - if you're interested. Hopefully it will help soon to be parents who are still trying to come up with the best name.

  • Robin profile image

    Robin Edmondson 

    11 years ago from San Francisco

    Great hub. The Social Security site is one of my favorites as far as stats go. It lists top names since the 1880s, plus top names by state, city, for twins, and by birth year. ;)


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