How to Choose a Baby Name

Choosing your baby’s name is quite a responsibility; not only will your selection be judged by nearly everyone who hears it, but you’re also making a choice that will literally define your child. Between the pressures of pleasing family, honoring relatives and finding a name on which you and your spouse agree, picking baby’s name is often the stuff arguments between moms and dads are made of. If the name game has you stressed, consider these helpful tips I put together a while back for a piece —they may point you in the right direction, not to mention help your marriage.

Beware of the quirky name

You may be tempted to pull a Gwyneth and choose an original name for your baby, but such a move is worth reconsidering. Some names are simply too hard to live with, especially for kids who may not yet have the independent spirit you do or have grown to develop. Plus, “It’s faintly ridiculous being called India, Atlanta or Summer and holding down a steady job as an accountant in Bognor Regis,” says Laura Wattenberg, the author of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby.

Size Matters

If the baby’s last name is long and multi-syllabic, consider a short first name with one or two syllables. Tom Cinnamonson or Matthew Cinnamonson rolls off the tongue much better than Jonathan Cinnamonson. At the same time, long multi-syllabic baby names will often strike a balance with a short last name. If you have a two-syllable last name, you’re in luck—they sound good with virtually any length first name.

Consider tease-worthy nicknames or embarrassing rhymes.

When choosing a name for your child, remember that all of its connotations—lewd or otherwise—will be unearthed by his or her friends on the playground. Rhea may sound beautiful to you, but be prepared to console a crying little girl who was called “Diar-Rhea” at school. Also pay attention to the first and last name combination. For example, if your last name is Johnson, naming your son Harry, while a perfectly adorable name, isn’t the wisest choice.

Consider how it all ends.

If your baby’s last name begins with a hard consonant, you may want to choose a baby name that ends with a vowel sound. For example, the name Melissa Karp is much more pleasant than Meg Karp.

Don’t be a celeb name-stalker.

You may love Oprah, but resist naming your daughter after her. By awarding your offspring with a celebrity’s name, it will not only date the child later on, but you’ll come off looking like a bit of a fanatic. This rule also goes for naming your baby after a celebrity’s offspring, says Wattenberg: “If you name your offspring Rocco, at best it will look like you’re severely lacking in imagination, at worst you will come across like a quasi-stalker.”

Classic vs. common.

Traditional names that stand the test of time are popular for a reason: they’re timeless, sound good with practically any last name, and are virtually stigma-free (and that’s why there’s so popular). However, classic baby names have their pitfalls, too. If you go with naming your son the proverbially-popular, unquestionably adorable Jake, it’s almost certain that there will be at least one more Jake in his class, which means he may be known as Jake P. for quite some time.

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