Not to freak you out or anything, but choosing a name for your child is a huge responsibility. So much of our identity is tied up in our name. It’s the word people use to refer to us for our entire lives, and it becomes enmeshed with our entire life experience. The name we receive is the name our best friends call across the playground as children. It’s the name lovers whisper in our ears when they say “I love you.” It will be the name written across our birth certificates, diplomas, awards, and resumes. The right name for a person can be said with pride, ownership and confidence. The wrong name might be muttered self-consciously under our breath.
No pressure! If you’re having a difficult time choosing the perfect name for your child, here are some things to try:
1. Get a little notebook, a special place to record all of the names that you like in one place. Bonus: This will be fun to go back and look at later, and it can also make the process a little easier if you end up having more than one child.
2. Make sure to include both partners in the process.
3. Make a list. Some ideas of names to add to the list are:
a. All of the family names between you and your partner that you like. You could even look back at old family trees to see names used by great, great grandparents and aunts and uncles.
b. Favorite characters in books, films, TV shows.
c. People that you admire: artists, writers, musicians, inventors, explorers, scientists, entrepreneurs, or maybe an everyday personal hero in your own life, such as a teacher or mentor who was important to you.
d. All of the names that jump out at you from a book of baby names. You can also try visiting websites that have lists of baby names. They tend to group names together that have commonalities. Do you like names that sound stately and traditional, down-to-earth and poetic, interesting and unique?
4. Spend some time thinking about the “feeling” that you want your child’s name to have. Of course your child will have their very own personality and will make the name that you choose their own, but you may weigh the different feeling that the name Phineas has compared to Hank, for example. Which one feels better to you? Which one fits in with your family?
5. Now go back through the list and cross off the ones that you don’t love.
6. Consider any negative connotations the name might carry with it. For example, you might want to cross the name Charles off your list if your last name is Manson.
7. Start putting combinations of names together and see how they flow and feel together.
8. Practice yelling your child’s full name to see if it feels right. Hank Phineas Manson! Dinner is ready!
9. Think about how the name looks when it’s written and how it sounds when it’s said aloud. You should get warm and fuzzy feelings with the right name.
10. If you have a question about any name, it probably isn’t the right one. Cross it off the list.
11. Parents take different approaches at the time of birth. Some parents wait to meet their child to make sure the name they have chosen is the right one. Others feel completely certain that the name they have been thinking about is the one that is meant to be no matter what. Still others are racking their brains in the hospital hoping that the right name will appear to them at that moment. Decide which approach makes the most sense for you and your family.
12. Have fun! Even though choosing a name is a huge responsibility, it is also one of the most special gifts that you will give to your child.