How to choose a brilliant baby name and avoid a dodgy one
We all know what Katie Hopkins thinks about naming conventions, and I have to admit I’m with her on some of her points. But parents (in the UK at least) can choose what names they want for their children, therefore it’s not up to anyone else what they choose.
But choosing a brilliant baby name is hard work, and can seem never-ending. It’s one of those things that is quite exciting to plan, but can also be worrying – imagine a child being stuck with a horrendous name for the rest of their life. Sometimes you hear a name cringe, wondering why the parents chose the name. So it can be a lot of pressure to get the ‘right’ name for the baby.
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For me it was hard because although I immediately had a list (hands up girls, how many of you picked your future baby names as youngsters?), the OH refused to discuss any names before the baby arrived. Well, when pushed, he would just throw out a random horrendous name and pour scorn on it. So although I had a list of only 2 boys names, and a huge list of girls names, we didn’t decide until N had been born what his name would be.
Thankfully the OH liked at least one of my two boys names. He only had one suggestion which was George, which wasn’t on my list at all (thankfully given that Prince George is now here and there’s likely to be thousands more of them over the next few years). I offered it as a middle name, but when I registered N, and gave the OH the final choice, he made no leaning, and in the registrar’s office I blurted out the other option instead.
So if you want to choose a brilliant baby name that’s right for your child, here’s my tips:
Choose a great baby name
1, The boring way, get out a highlighter and read a baby name book. From what friends have told me, the man in your life will end up just saying yes to get rid of the book and stop the conversation.
2, Look at baby name sites online. Again, a pretty boring method, and it’ll drive you insane reading into all the meanings behind them. But if you want odd more unusual names that you’ve never heard of before, then the internet is the place to look because it draws on all the different names from different countries.
3, Watch tv and film credits. I know my mum and dad did this when choosing my name (you definitely don’t see many Emmas on the credits nowadays), and there is always one or two that I notice and think are nice. In my opinion, tv and film credits are less wacky the further down the credits you go.
4, Check the ONS 100 name list for the last couple of years. These tell you the top 100 names for boys and girls, and the risers and fallers. Crucial if you don’t want a popular name, or a fast rising one. I’m quite surprised that N’s name still isn’t in the top 100 because since having him I’ve come across quite a few children of similar age with the same name – either full or shortened variety
5, Look up your family tree. Whether you opt for the more American way of calling the eldest child by the same name as the father or want to call your baby after a member of the family to remember them, family trees have a wealth of names to choose from. Just be careful if you choose from one side of the family that the other side don’t get jealous.
6, Ask teacher friends their views on names that belong to children who cause trouble, and names that good children have had. There’s often research in the news about the names of good and bad children. While that’s not a great way to think about individual children because they are all different, teachers may have bad experiences with children with a certain name over the years. I know I wouldn’t want my child being judged in class because of a teacher’s past experience with certain names over their teaching career. In my school there were Jasons who were always in trouble, and my mum always used to say that in shops it was always ‘Andrew’ being yelled at the top of a voice by parents! I’m sure the names nowadays would be very different.
7, Choose a theme and then names around that theme. Especially if you’re having multiples or naming siblings, it’s worth thinking about whether you want similar names or not. My preference is not, but I know a family with girls who’ve all got flower names, and there’s always families who name their children beginning with the same letter. Other themes could include nature, biblical names etc.
8. If there’s one name you like but want other options, look at others that have similar sounds, syllables or patterns, eg ending in ‘a’, ‘y’ or one syllable names
You may notice that I’ve not included using surnames or names of the opposite sex. They’re an option too, but note points 1 and 2 below on watch outs. I’m not a fan though. I get enough spelling errors for my name and there’s only 1 spelling for Emma, and our surname is phonetic. So I feel for children who’ve got awkwardly spelt names, made up ones, or a surname for a first name. They’ll permanently be correcting people’s errors.
Of course, on the flip side, there’s some watch outs:
The watch outs for dubious names
1, Spelling. Do you always want your child to have to spell their name? It might be controversial, but I don’t understand why someone would want to change the spelling of what is a perfectly fine name with spelling that’s worked for hundreds of years. Nowadays we have the normal spelling of Rebecca, but also Rebekah, Rebekka, Rebeccah. Why? I just want to cry when I see some of these. If it’s a language/dialect version – like gaelic, then it’s a proper name. If you’ve made it up and changed the spelling yourself, just think about the child – everyone will just presume it’s the normal spelling.
2, Check first and last name together (of both parents if you aren’t married). I love the name Sebastian but it would have been horrendous with our surname. Similarly there was a Gordon Bennett at my first primary school.
3, Think about possible nicknames or rude versions that you like or dislike. There’s a couple of options for a shortened form of N’s name, with and without an ‘e’. But I prescribed which would be our preferred shortened form. As for rude nicknames. Don’t underestimate the creativity of children and names….Richard Edwards might not be the best name if you don’t want teasing.
4, Brand names. It does amuse me when people like a brand so much they call their child after it. You need to remember that a name can’t date over time, and brands can have a tendency to do so.
5, Towns/places Obviously some ‘place’ names have been around for years (India, is a really pretty example), but with the more modern ones in the vein of the Beckhams, do you really want people asking if you named your baby after the place you conceived?
While it’s lovely to have a name planned for the baby before they arrive. I’d just recommend thinking about waiting to make your final choice after your baby appears. After all, you don’t want to choose a boy’s name on the basis of a gender scan, only to find out that the radiographer got it wrong and the baby arrives a girl…or maybe you do if you like unisex names! Alternatively you don’t want to give a baby girl a pretty dainty sounding name, and end up with an 11 pound lump of a baby and find you haven’t got an alternative more suitable name.
And finally, unless you:
- need to check your choice with someone with good taste before you finalise your choice
- don’t mind your name choice being known by everyone (because it will get out)
- don’t mind someone else nicking your name ahead of you
Then keep it to yourself. until the baby is born and named.
How did you choose your baby’s name?
Great tips. choosing a name was really difficult so many things to consider and then you get the first name sorted and have to start with a middle name!!
I know what you mean. Although some names are very ‘middle name’ types, so in a way a lot of people just go for the obvious ones. Us included.
Great post – so interesting to think about why people choose particular names. I went through the baby names book and jotted down some ideas although I originally didn’t want to go for names high up on the popularity lists. Hubby really liked Jessica as a name when I was expecting her and when we found out that we were expecting a girl, it just felt like the right name – particularly as one of the meanings of her name is “God sees” which felt very appropriate given all our prayers for a miracle. With Sophie, I didn’t know I was expecting a girl until she was born but I dreamt I was having a girl and gave her Sophie’s full name – it wasn’t a name I had considered but I liked it and so did hubby. Our only other criteria is that we don’t want any of our children to have the same initial as us or each other so with any future children names beginning with J, L, M and S are all now off the list.
Yours have lovely names. I’m with you on initials. Having experienced the nightmare of post coming to a Mr or Mrs T at the farm, of which there could be 3 Mr’s and 3 Mrs’, it’s a nightmare if you also have same initials. Many a bit of post we’ve not known whose it is.
Apparently the one time my Grandpa rebelled against my Grandma was when he got sent to register my Dad as a baby. He was meant to be Charles something and he registered him as Andrew Timothy!! My Gran refused to call him Andrew so he is known as Tim now to the point where my parents called my brother Andrew forgetting it was my Dad’s name too until somebody else pointed it out!!
Oh dear. That’s nearly like a friend of mine. Her dad was sent to register her name. He got the name right but did the english spelling instead of the welsh that had been planned. I’d never have trusted my OH to get it right!
It’s such a tricky decision! We settled on a boys name years ago but nature has given us 2 girls. We are poles apart on girls names so have had to compromise big style. I came across the eldest’s name on a parenting forum and it stuck. We decided to choose a name for the youngest that went with the eldest’s. I still get a bit upset that I will never use my favourite girls names or our boys names – irrational as that may seem!
Definitely hard especially when you’ve got different views.
I thought the OH would go for my other boy’s name which was top of the name charts so I’m glad he prefered this one. I’d definitely got upset if I’d not got one that I liked. If he’d not liked either we’d have been stuck without a name,
I still have my huge list of girls names, and it is sad you’ll never get to use them. Although probably best we didn’t have a girl because even with a big list, I don’t think the OH would have gone for many if any of them.
I love names and how they were chosen. Sadly, my husband named both of our girls and he had a theme. This was because the first was an emergency Caesarian and I was knocked out, by the time I came to, it was on her wrist, leg and above the cot. The second was also a section but I was awake, however by then he had a theme, we had the poor midwife demented arguing about it. I shorten them both to make them more to my taste. Ha!! I bet your sorry you asked hehe!! xx
Crikey, I’d not have been pleased about that. Brave man. I bet the midwives hear worse though. At least they can be shortened.
Picking names is just such a huge responsibility and picking names for a second or subsequent child is even harder! x
I bet, especially when you’ve already chosen the one. I know if we’d gone for a second and had a boy I’d have been totally stuck, having only had 2 names in the first place. I think if I’d had to settle for one that hadn’t been on my list (if the OH had pushed for his choice) I’d have been gutted forever.
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