Sunday, March 16, 2008

Picking the Perfect Baby Name

Picking a baby boy name or a baby girl name can be an almost impossible task. For some prospective parents, it’s an emotional and logistical nightmare. You want to honor your great Uncle Dilbert but still protect your kid from years of playground torment. Your husband wants a name that evokes his Greek heritage (think: Anastasius), while you’re finding inspiration in your passion for French pastry (maybe Aveline).

How do you pick the right name, the one that perfectly resonates with you and your husband? Here are four straightforward tips to making the process a little less agonizing.

#1 Go with tradition.

There are two traditionalist strategies for naming your baby: check your family tree or consult your religious heritage. A family name, even one that is modernized to fit your sense of style, can lend a sense of continuity.

A name inspired by your heritage can offer significance, too. In Buddhist tradition, good fortune comes to a baby whose initials are determined by an astrological horoscope on the day he or she is born. In Jewish tradition, a baby is named for a beloved, departed relative, whose positive qualities will hopefully be incarnated in his or her namesake.

#2 And introducing…

What kind of first (and lasting) impression do you want your child’s name to make? From the bullies on the playground to the pressures of the boardroom, your child’s name must carry him or her through life. Things to consider include:

  • Nicknames. Even if you’re sure you don’t want a shorter moniker, little Joaquin might still become Quinny to his friends and teachers.
  • Initials. Perhaps Urusala Gwenyth is your first choice, but with your last name of Horton, her initials will spell out “UGH”.
  • Popularity. Some folks just want the name they want—and they don’t care that little Emily will be the third in her kindergarten class. If you’d rather avoid that, though, then check the Social Security Administration’s annual list of most popular names. (Hint: Emily, along with Jacob, Madison, Michael, Emma and Andrew have topped the list for last five years.)

#3 Take a step back.

Have you and your husband been debating—some might say fighting—for weeks or months? If so, it’s safe to say that you need to take a break. Stick your dog-eared lists into a drawer and focus on enjoying the rest of pregnancy. Rest assured: When your little miracle arrives, you’ll find the inspiration you need. Suddenly the choice between Simon and Gideon will seem ridiculous, because your son is definitely the former—or neither. And you’ll call him Justin, which as it turns out, is the perfect name for him.

#4 Keep it under wraps.

If you’ve managed to pick the perfect name before your baby’s birth, congratulations! Some couples chose to keep the name a secret because of superstition or the surprise factor. If you feel tempted to blab, however, think long and hard about the ramifications. What if your mom, dad, sister, colleague or great Aunt Bertha gives you that look? Or worse, the full court press to change your mind? Can you withstand the pressure? If the answer is maybe not, then mums the word!