How to choose baby names – apply 10 rules!
Choosing a name for your baby is a lengthy process. Often starting months before your baby is born, parents trail through numerous books and websites looking for baby name inspiration.
With millions of names to choose from, there are a few vital things to consider when picking a baby name.
- Think about the future
- Unisex names
- Nicknames can stick
- First name plus surname
- Unique spelling
- Can we say it?
- Celebrity names
- What does it mean?
- Check the top 100 baby names
When do I register baby’s name?
Before you get started remember each country has certain rules for registering your baby’s name.
- In England and Wales you must register the birth of your baby within 42 days of the birth.
- In Scotland, you must register the birth within 21 days of the baby being born.
- In Northern Ireland, you must register the birth of your baby within 42 days of the birth.
- In Ireland, will need to register the birth of your child no later than three months after his/her birth.
- In Australia, you must register the birth within 60 days of the child’s birth.
Remember, a name is for life not just infancy. If you pick a name which is overly childish, it will stick with your child through to adulthood. Jamie Oliver is a good example of this – can you imagine an 87 year old man called Buddy Bear? Pick a name which can age with your child and still sound respectable!
The growing popularity of unisex names is unmissable. It’s not uncommon to hear about a girl or boy being named Jamie, Chris, Alex or Sam to name but a few. Whilst it is becoming a popular choice, consider your child’s future as they are commonly mistaken for the opposite sex on phone calls, emails, job applications etc. Obviously, if you are opting for a unisex name, don’t try and become a trendsetter. No one will believe that you have a daughter named John.
If you are living abroad, some countries do not allow you to give your child a unisex name. In Germany, you must be able to tell the gender of the child by the first name, and the name chosen must not be negatively affect the well being of the child.
Another aspect of choosing a name is thinking of the nickname your child might inherit. If a name can be shortened (i.e. Amanda to Mandy) then it might be how your child is known whether you like it or not. Some parents choose a traditional name but call their child the shortened version of it from birth (i.e. William on official documents such as passport but Will to all friends and family). Consider what nicknames your child might get and if you like them equally as much as the original name.
Does your child’s first name work well with your surname? Steve Stephens or Donald McDonald are key examples of names that don’t work. Consider both together as you are picking your child’s identity for life.
Unique spelling may make your baby name slightly different from others but will this be difficult for the future of your child? If your child has to correct people on the spelling of their name every 5 minutes, they may begin to resent it. It may also cause problems in early years when the child is beginning to write his or her name.
Another frustrating thing for a child is the pronunciation of their name. If it’s unusual or is commonly said wrong, it can cause the child to resent their name. An example of this is Mhairi. It is difficult to determine whether this is said with a V sound or an M sound.
Choosing celebrity names is a popular choice for some but can be hard to shake off the personality of the celebrity. Choosing a name like Jordan for a girl will instantly put Katie Price into mind. Keep this in mind for baby names.
Lastly, it’s important to know the meaning of your baby name. There’s nothing worse than finding a beautiful name only to discover later that it means something terrible. If you choose a well known name like Cameron, you’d be surprised to discover that it actually means Crooked Nose. If you are looking for a lovely name, make sure it also has a lovely meaning.
If you are looking for inspiration review the top 100 baby names to see where your favourite name ranks, what’s popular and what is out of the top 100. It’s not uncommon to find that the name you thought was unusual or that little bit different, is actually quite popular. In 2010 the most popular girl’s name was Olivia together with Oliver for boys.
Remember to check out the initials of your baby’s name. You may think you have spared him or her a funny nick name only to discover that little John Alfie Morgan becomes J.A.M man! Thanks to the comment from reader Neil Chalkey for reminding us of this important rule!
How did you choose your baby’s name? Tell us in the comments below.
Photography: Poppy Thomas-Hill @Flickr