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Choosing a Name for Your Baby

More time and emotional energy is spent on selecting a name than choosing the right car seat or crib. It's probably one of the most important decisions you'll make for your child. Talk candidly with your spouse or partner about what names the both of you prefer before the baby arrives. Chances are it will probably change once the baby is born, so it's a good idea to write your choices down.

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Here are some guidelines to consider when choosing a name:

  • Will the child be able to grow into the name? Will it be an appropriate name for both a child and an adult? (Remember, "Bunny" may be cute for a four year old, but not necessarily for a 40 year old).

  • How many names will you give your child? First, middle and last? Many ethnic groups use several names to identify their genealogy.

  • How does the name sound? A good rule of thumb is to have one syllable first names with multi-syllable last names (John Morganstern, for example) or a multi-syllable first name for a one syllable last name (Samantha King). Pronounce it a few times to see if it's audibly pleasing.

  • Do you prefer gender specific or unisex names (good for when you don't know the sex of the child)?

  • Are there family names you wish to carry on to the next generation? Are there problems with being labeled "Jr." or "III"?

  • Will people other than family members be able to pronounce and/or spell the name? Consider unique vs. traditional ways of spelling: Most people won't know you spell your daughter's name "Cyndie" unless you spell it. Which means your daughter will spend a lifetime spelling her name to strangers.

  • Will you, your spouse/partner, or family use nicknames? Consider the nicknames associated with certain names, and try to avoid using a nickname as a legal name, your child will have to continually explain why her first name is Bunny and not Barbara.

  • Are there ethnic or religious traditions when it comes to names? Can you mix both traditional and ethnic names together?

  • Are there any questionable associations with a particular name? Realize the consequences of naming your son Charles when your last name is Manson.

  • What does your child's name mean? If you want to bestow certain qualities onto your child, make sure his or her name reflects these qualities.


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