Naming Your Baby

The ritual of choosing a name for your baby is an important one for you as expectant parents. Not only is it an activity that you can do together, it is also one that helps you prepare for the reality of parenthood. Numerous books have been written on this subject, so there are many resources available to assist you if you have not yet decided on a name. Check your local library or bookstore.

Some parents decide on a name months before their baby’s birth, once they are certain of the baby’s gender. This may even aid in the bonding process because they can then refer to their child by name before they have actually met him. Others, while possibly narrowing their list to three or four names, prefer to wait to name their baby until after he is born and they can choose whichever name seems to fit their particular baby.

Many couples find the task of choosing a name easy because they have decided to honor a parent, grandparent, or other relative by using that person’s name for their child. Others search for something unique or for a name that has special meaning for them. Popular names seem to run in cycles. Every decade sees the emergence of certain names, often because of well-known national figures or even soap opera stars who are popular at that time. Many of today’s new parents were named Kimberly, Jennifer, Scott, or Brian. They are now choosing names like Ashley, Lindsay, Tyler, and Nicholas for their offspring. Classic names, such as Mary, Elizabeth, Michael, and David, have remained popular over the years. An analysis done by the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Colorado in 1989 found that 40 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls were named from a list of only twenty-five boys’ names and twenty-five girls’ names.

If you are debating between a traditional name and an unusual name, be aware that the number one reason given by parents for staying with a traditional name is that most people will find it acceptable. When considering an unusual name, you need to ask yourself if that name will be appropriate as your child grows older and becomes an adult.

You should also keep in mind any stereotypes that may be associated with certain names. Unfortunately, some people expect a certain type of behavior or appearance from a person based simply on his or her name.

Other questions you should consider as you evaluate options include:

  • How does the full name flow?
  • Do the initials form a word that could be embarrassing to your child?
  • What are the possible nicknames for the name?
  • Is the name appropriate for the child’s gender?

Several authors caution against using the diminutive or nickname for your child’s legal name—Billy Joe instead of William Joseph, for example. Such a name may not be considered appropriate when your child becomes an adult.

In the final analysis, it is most important that you decide on a name that you think will please both you and your child for a lifetime.