Your little one is on the way, and you now have to choose a baby name. It is a very high-stakes decision to make. Above all, a delightful thing for your partner and you to prepare for during the pregnancy. The name is the first gift you will ever make to your baby, so pick it with care. Here are a few ideas and interesting traditions for your attention.
It’s for life, so don’t underestimate these factors:
Consider whether you want to honor the familial tradition or go into a more trending genre. If you incline for a traditional name, your family tree can be of great inspiration. Your ancestry can reveal a name you’ll like with a lot of significance for your family.
Or, if you’re looking at what’s trendy in 2021, remember that trends pass. Following the fashion of creative spelling may not be a good idea. It could make the life of your kid in the schoolyard more difficult. What if your infant has to face a lifetime of people misspelling or mocking the name. What you’re choosing now should be carried with self-esteem and confidence by your child.
The name has to matter for you. Find one with a story behind it. It can be from your experience, your likings, classic literature, the religion, or a historical figure. A name with a meaning you love makes the difference.
The popularity factor
Find the balance between unconventional and too original. As it can be a pain to have half the classroom having the same name as you, beware of the opposite. The name has to be distinctive but not inconvenient. Rare names can be divisive. You probably have a clear opinion about Kardashian / West, Elon Musk, or Jamie Olliver babies’ names (*), for instance.
It’s easy to check the fame of a name by visiting the Social Security Administration website (1). The service presents a complete analysis of baby names in the USA since 1879.
The cultural factor
The choice of your baby’s name is also an opportunity to celebrate your cultural background. Check out the harmony of the name and the ethnicity of the last name together to magnify it.
For an intercultural couple, the challenge of picking a name is exciting but also tense. Do you want to carry on traditions from your residence culture or the preeminent one in your couple? My partner and I are from different countries, and we found a beautiful medium for our baby girl. We didn’t see it as a compromise to our respective conventions as we both cherish the name. Our respective families are also happy with it.
Pronunciation and initials
Sing it, call it, say it fast. Can you picture yourself shouting that name in a playground in 5 years? Do you like the sound of it? It has to flow nicely. You will be calling your child a lot, so ensure you enjoy the sound of it.
And because 3 letters together can, of course, make an odd word (there is no need for examples, right?), make sure you check out how the combination you like works best.
The middle name
The middle name can be of great use. If your first name choice is a little unusual and aside from your family habit, the middle name is where you can place family tradition anyway. Or, if your first pick is a classy, timeless moniker, the middle name is the chance to be more original. Besides, your children can later use the middle name as they grow if they don’t like the first name you picked for them.
Partner, family, and social environment
Disagreement with the partner
There’s nothing more common than discord with your partner about the baby’s name. Culture, family tradition, stylistic divergence are many factors that can turn the naming experience into a difficult process. Waiting until going to the hospital and making a final choice is not uncommon at the very last minute. But seeing the baby does not necessarily help to choose a name.
Start that process early on. More time is less stress. If your preliminary options face constant rejection, make a list and submit it. It’s an entertaining moment to test the various names with your partner. I see two benefits in drafting a list: it decreases the stress and allows you to sleep on some of the names you may short-list or forget about the day after. In the worst case of unreachable consensus, consider letting the mom pick the name for the first baby and the dad, the second one, or vice versa.
Family and friends involvement
It’s up to you: will you involve your family and friends in the process? Here again, the practice varies a lot from one country to another. I come from a culture where parents keep the name secret until the baby is born because many consider it bad luck to reveal it before. My partner is from a completely different tradition where debating the future baby’s name with a large family is absolutely normal.
Everybody has a say about names, and don’t expect your family to hide their thoughts if you involve them. Most people would be excited you name your child after them. Yet, if your idea goes against the family tradition or their taste, you may hear many objections and disapproval. I would suggest you feed them with some items from the top 10 of your list and keep your favorite secret until the baby’s born. The only thing that matters is that you and your partner are confident with your choice. The others will eventually all get to love it. Let’s see how parents choose the baby name in other countries.
Inspiration from other cultures
Some naming conventions in the world are exciting. Here are a few that picked my curiosity.
The use of a middle name in Costa Rica
Not all countries have a use for a middle name like in the US. In Costa Rica, for instance, it is frequent to give the same name to children of the same generation within the same family. 3 brothers can be called Victor. Costa Ricans also have two last names (from the father and the mother). The middle name then comes very handily in everyday conversation to differentiate the bearers of the same name.
Emphasis on the first name in Iceland
The Icelandic Naming Committee keeps the official register of approved Icelandic given names. In Iceland, babies’ names have to figure in this register and be spelled from the Icelandic alphabet letters. If not, it can be denied by the administration. The fun fact is that the first name alphabetically organizes the local telephone list.
In India, Where constellations are an inspiration
Astrology is important in the naming process in India, when not considered at all in the West. The choice can be made based on horoscopes provided by an astrologer. A baby will be given a name compatible with his birth star constellation (called nakshatra) to have a happy life.
The Japanese naming ceremony
The ceremony, called Oshichiya Meimeishiki, takes place seven days after the birth. The baby receives a handwritten scroll or a poster (meimeisho, like a birth certificate) with his name on it and is then officially baptized. Family and friends gather around the crib to offer gifts to the newborn.
A second name to fool the ill-intentioned spirits in Thailand.
There is an old belief that malicious spirits could steal or harm a baby by using his real name in Thailand. So giving two names to a baby is a way to keep them far. Thai babies are often given a nickname based on a physical characteristic (big, fat, short, or sometimes colors…). You can be best friends and ignore the official name of your accomplice.
Make A Good Choice and Happy Naming
It is a lot of pressure to give your baby a name for a lifetime. That is one of the most special decisions you have to make during your existence. Whatever your choice is, your child will love it as much as your partner, and you do. Looking for your baby’s ideal name to come is challenging, but it is a special time you will cherish. Make this moment a beautiful one and happy naming!
- Social Security Administration database: Get Ready for Baby.