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How to Choose a Baby Name

Simply liking a name is not a good enough reason to pick it for your baby. There are half a dozen other things you should consider.


  • Step 1: Get a baby name book Get a baby name book. They have dozens of names you’ve never heard of, and most come with an explanation of their original meaning—so you won’t run the risk of giving your child a name that means 'ugly baby' in Swahili.
  • Step 2: Consider relatives Consider naming your baby after a relative. It will not only increase the likelihood that Aunt Judith will put your offspring in her will, but studies show it makes the child feel more connected to her lineage, giving her higher self-esteem.
  • Step 3: Avoid wacky names Avoid wacky names. You may think 'Licorice' is a cool name, but research shows that kids with common names like Mary and Michael are presumed by teachers to be smarter than those with crazy or trendy monikers. Commonly named kids fit in better their peers, too.
  • Step 4: Check out what’s popular Check online to see what the most popular baby names are today, based on social security records. Do you really want your daughter to be one of six Emily’s in her class?
  • TIP: Remember that a trendy name will date your child forever—which won’t make a gal happy when she’s middle aged. Think about it—how many Linda’s or Susan’s under 35 do you know? We rest our case.
  • Step 5: Consider initials Consider what the initials spell. Ashley Sue Spencer may seem like a great name—until it’s time for monogrammed towels.
  • Step 6: Avoid odd spellings for boys Name your daughter Caryl with a 'y' if you must, but think twice before you add a 'y' to Jason. Studies show that girls with unusual spellings are overwhelmingly happy with them, while 40% of oddly-spelled boys aren’t. In fact, they’re more likely to have mental problems.
  • Step 7: Consider the last name A first name can’t be picked out of the context of the last name, so say the full name out loud to make sure it flows. Often a short first name will complement a long last name, or vice versa.
  • TIP: Rhyming names like Mike Fike will haunt your child forever.
  • Step 8: Consider nicknames Consider all the nicknames that can be made from your child’s name, because you know 'Gabriella' is going to end up 'Gabby,' 'William,' will be called 'Bill,' and so on. If you’re not happy about that, go back to the drawing board or prepare to become the name police. Think like a fifth grader, meaning, think of all the nasty ways a child could turn your kid’s name into a joke. For example, if your family tends to be on the heavy side, you don’t want your sweet Patricia or Patrick to become 'Fat Pat.'
  • FACT: The name Addison hop-scotched 100 places up the popular name list when a character with that name joined the TV drama Grey’s Anatomy.

You Will Need

  • A baby name book
  • Some relatives you like
  • An ability to think like a playground bully

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