When Andrew and I found out that we were expecting our first baby, one of the first things I realized was that we would have to choose a name for this little one. That may seem like a simple enough fact of life, but for us it was such a weighty responsibility. We spent a long time pondering, researching thousands of names and meanings, and trying our best to choose the perfect name. I believe that we accomplished this quite well with Vivian, but now we are expecting another little girl and facing the same difficulty. What name do we choose?
The perfect name.
There is no perfect formula for choosing a name. Every person, family, and situation is unique. However, I’d like to share with you some of the elements that guided our decision making process in hopes of helping you find a name that you truly love.
I am saying it now, and I will say it again: What ultimately matters most is that this is a name that you, or you and your partner, chose for this brand new, precious baby. The suggestions below are simply that – suggestions to help guide you in the right direction, not hard and fast rules to follow. It is an honor to bestow a name on a new life, and I think it’s something that should be chosen with thoughtful care.
What to Consider
The first and foremost thing I take into consideration when looking at names (beyond simply whether or not I like how it sounds) is what it means. A name is a precious and sacred thing that we give to our children that they will likely carry for their whole life, and while I am not at all superstitious, I do feel like the meaning of their name speaks over them in a way. Many names have positive meanings, or are rather indifferent, but some are downright negative (for instance, Cassandra means “temptress”). I’m not saying that you should write off a name based on meaning alone, but I believe it worth taking note of.
A second item to look at is how the name sounds with your surname. This may seem superfluous, but again – their name is something that will forever be a part of your child, and I think that most would appreciate having a name that flows well. Women, remember when you first fell in love and you wrote out your first name with his last? Do that for your kiddos. Write it down – test how it looks, how it feels, how it sounds out loud.
Some names are wonderfully unique or inspiring, but really… are they practical? My husband jokingly says that when talking about names, he pictures our children walking into an job interview and introducing themselves. That may seem a silly illustration, but it also makes sense. While it isn’t all about what other people think, you don’t want to choose a name that will almost guarantee ridicule or confusion (speaking of, perhaps lay off the crazy spellings as well).
I am a 90’s baby and my name is Mariah. So naturally, when I introduce myself people jokingly ask if my middle name is Carey.
I don’t mind this at all and I know that I was in no way named after the popular singer, but name associations are worth thinking about when choosing a name for your baby. There are some things that you really don’t want people thinking you’re named after – like a silly TV show character, or Adolf Hitler. Don’t choose something that you’re going to regret later (like this couple naming their twins after the novel coronavirus).
There are two sides to this consideration. Firstly, is a name with a familial connection important to you – or is this something you specifically want to avoid? Be sure to talk with your partner about that and make sure you are both on the same page. Choosing a name off the family tree – for either a first or middle name – can be a wonderful way to honor someone in your family.
Another side of this is how the name sounds with the names of your family members. Similar to the surname consideration, this may not be a deal-breaker but is definitely worth looking at. If you have other children, do the names flow well? You’re going to say their names in tandem a lot over the years. Is the name too similar to other in your family? For example, I don’t intend to use a name ending in “iah” for any of my children, because when called that would sound too much like my name and could be confusing.
Does the name age well? Some names are darling for babies, but simply don’t grow up well. One of the things we loved most about Vivian was that it was sweet for a little girl (and had a cute / easy nickname), but was also elegant and beautiful for when she grew older. Yes, in the moment you are naming a baby, but that baby will hopefully grow to be, and spend most of their life as, an adult. Choose with their future in mind.
Is it overly trendy? There is nothing wrong with liking what is in style, but don’t choose a name only because it is in the “top” list. These are the common go-to’s, and the ones that will date your child back to the 2020’s.
This is a joyful and exciting time. Choosing a name should be fun, but also taken seriously. Don’t let yourself feel rushed or pressured by those around you. Take your time and find your own ‘perfect name’. You can browse thousands of different names online, or perhaps you prefer to have a physical book to take notes in. Asking friends for their thoughts can be a fun way to get some fresh inspiration.
All right, enough talk. I need to go find a name for my own precious little girl.