It’s probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when you’re pregnant – what to call your new baby! While we would always recommend you go with what you like, there are a number of pitfalls to look out for that you might like to consider before heading to the register’s office.
1 Look for historical precedents
Remember the episode in Friends when Chandler persuaded Joey that Joseph Stalin was a good stage name? Make sure you don’t fall into this trap by ensuring your child isn’t inadvertently named after a serial killer or drug smuggler. In the same vein, but perhaps a little less harmful, is to consider celebrity names – if your surname is Pitt, you might want to avoid calling your son Brad. Google is your friend here.
2 Cute doesn’t last forever
Think about your chosen name as an adult – it may be tempting to call your little girl something cute like Bunny, but is this a good name for a serious adult going for a job interview? “I read somewhere that you should think of your little child as a High Court Judge when considering names,” says Julie, mum to Ben and Millie. “So I chose names that could be shortened when they’re little – Millie is short for Amelia – so they have the option of going back to the longer versions when they grow up.”
3 Think of the siblings
Remember that you’ll spend most of your time calling your children in groups, so think of how the names sound together. “I really wanted to call my baby girl Ella – it’s a beautiful name and went well with the surname. But I already have a boy called Sam, and read together – ‘Sam and Ella’ sounds like a dodgy stomach upset!” says mum-of-two Mary.
4 Look at the initials
You may have spent lots of time looking at how your chosen name goes with the surname, but have you looked at the initials?
Patricia Isabelle Grant is a perfectly okay name until you see the initials – PIG. It might seem like something inconsequential, but kids pick up on this is school, plus you’d be surprised just how often your initials are used when you hate them.
5 Watch the spelling/pronunciation
Unusual names are great, but remember that your child will spend her life correcting people! If you’re tempted to go for something a little less ordinary, maybe ask some friends how they would pronounce/spell the name, just to put it into context. If you are going for an unusual spelling, go for something with a bit of meaning behind it, eg the Irish version. At least then there’s a logical explanation for your child, rather than a suspicion that her parents can’t spell!
6 Consider the popularity
Every year, a list of the ten most popular names is released and it’s well worth keeping an eye on these. While it’s fine to go for a popular name, bear in mind that your child may be in a class with other kids with the same first name. If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual, steer clear of the top names, and watch out for celebrities naming their babies for instance, there were quite a few Harpers born after Victoria Beckham had her little girl a few years ago. Similarly, you can expect a lot of Charlottes thanks to Kate Middleton.
7 Think of the nicknames
“Ellie was named after my mum, Elizabeth, but I didn’t think about the possible nicknames when we settled on Ellie as her shortened baby name,” says Penny, m&i’s editor. “She’s been Ellie Belly since she started in crèche, and my four year old thinks calling her Smelly Ellie is hilarious! It’s nothing too harmful at the moment, but we will have to keep an eye on her weight and cleanliness as she gets older!” That said, don’t get too hung up on possible nicknames unless it really bothers you something really innocuous is easily laughed off.
8 Edit the family connection
It’s a lovely tradition to keep a family name going by calling your child after a beloved relative, but what if the name doesn’t appeal to you? Firstly see how important the tradition is. Could you use it as a second name? Or use a different version of the name? Another alternative is to use the name but shorten it to make it more modern, eg Harry for Harold. Remember, too, the grandparent rule – names tend to skip a generation in popularity, which explains why old names like Ruby, Lily and Fred are coming back into fashion. So what might seem old-fashioned right now might prove popular again in a few years’ time.
9 Think of the jokes
Some names just inspire the same jokes over and over again. “I spent my entire school career being called Penelope Pitstop,” says mum-of-two Penelope. “There’s no harm in it but it gets very tiresome after a while, especially when the people who make the joke think they’re unique and hilarious.” We’ve also come across an Eden who is understandably tired of people asking how her garden is doing.
10 Go your own way
All of these pitfalls are well and good, but our best advice is to not get too hung up on your baby name. Do a bit of investigating and use some common sense, but at the end of the day, if you like a name, go for it. A quick search on the Internet will reveal a plethora of baby name generators, so it’s not difficult to get inspiration. Remember, it’ll be you yelling the name for the next 18 years so at least you should like it! If your child doesn’t, point him towards the deed poll office when he turns 18. Simples.