shutterstock 396684625After the big question, “Is it a boy or a girl?”, comes the even bigger question: “What will you name the baby?” This may single-handedly be the biggest stressor leading up to the arrival of your bundle of joy. After all, our name is our identity, and we as parents have the important job of selecting just the right one.  

Most parents worry about the lasting impression of the name they choose. Some cope with stress from family and friends who have their own opinions about the baby’s name. The seemingly limitless number of names can be overwhelming, too. So, how do you make the final selection? 

To reveal or not to reveal? A key consideration regarding this question is whether you are worried about the name as a choice or whether you are worried about making others happy. If you choose to reveal the name, be prepared for criticism. This may be one of the main reasons that you choose to keep the name private. If you want feedback, creating a poll of your top three or five names can be a fun way to identify the “popular” vote.

Remember, it is perfectly acceptable not to announce your baby’s name before he or she arrives. If you reveal the gender of the baby, then keeping the name a secret can be a nice surprise when the baby arrives. However, if you are not one-hundred percent certain on the baby’s name, you may want to wait until the baby arrives to announce it. Otherwise, the ever-popular monogrammed gifts may cause some distress!


Keeping it in the family! This may be by far the most popular way to choose a name. When asked on social media, many friends attributed their children’s names to family members. Grandparents’ names were the true winners, with some friends keeping four or five generations of a name alive and thriving with their little ones. Parents may feel a pressure to use a family name as a tribute to someone or “just because” it’s been in the family for generations, but don’t feel inclined to use a family name if it is not a name that you and your partner both love. One friend noted that the family name of Martha Janelle ended with her. While it may cause initial tension if you choose to forgo a family name, your child may end up thanking you one day!


Do you want initials or a nickname? Some parents want a specific nickname, so the name they select for their child is part of his or her identity from the start. Others do not want a nickname at all. We (ok, let’s be real: it was all me) did not want a nickname, so that narrowed our list to a few letters since nearly all letters of the alphabet can be placed with a “J” last name! Determine if you want a nickname but keep in mind that sometimes, nicknames are unavoidable. In a parenting advice article, one parent asks what to do when teachers, school friends, and little league teammates call her son Andy instead of his “correct” name, Andrew. The advice: wait. “Rest assured, that if this day comes, he’ll be able to slowly move friends and classmates into the Andrew camp. This happens all the time to the Eddies, Sammys, and Willys of the world who eventually decide they’re Edward, Samantha, and Will. But until then, no amount of…intervention is going to correct this problem.” Nicknames and other pet names can be endearing, so don’t discount a name just because it could be altered later.


Culturally-significant names and other meaningful names. With programs like 23andMe and Ancestry DNA, parents may be inspired by their background. Keeping one’s heritage in mind is important to many people and can provide rich, unique names. With these, names can have pronunciations that do not align with their spelling (I get this ALL the time!). Be prepared for, “How do you pronounce the name again?” and “How do you spell it?” frequently. I like to believe that these names are not for the faint of heart! I used to hate my difficult-to-pronounce Irish name (also because my sister’s name, Jennifer, was so popular and simple!). But, I was fortunate to travel to Ireland where I got to hear the sound of my own name in a native tongue. This changed my own perception of my name, and now I absolutely love it. Knowing the meaning behind or importance of a name establishes our hopes and dreams for our children. We want them to develop into all of the traits their names possess.


Famous Names. Whether it’s a famous author, musician, celebrity, or character in a book, parents may gravitate toward names of people whom they respect, or even idolize.   Back to my social media post: several friends responded that they named their babies after character names from X-Men and Star Wars. Writers were credited with inspiration as well, whether of their own namesake or in characters from their books. Famous celebrities and athletes topped the list, too: Liam for Liam Neeson and Lucille for Lucille Ball. Some friends named their children after famous places, such as Shea for Shea Stadium and Daisy after a beloved beach house. Names that are important to us as parents add extra meaning and show the amount of care given to choosing special names for our children. 


Inspiration from celebrity mash-up names. It can certainly be a challenge to choose a name that both parents like, so considering a blend of two names may be the ticket to compromise. You may or may not cringe at the mash-ups like Brangelina and Kimye, but sweet blends like Lilliana and Ella can become a name like Ellianna. ( Unique and important to both parents will likely be a win-win. 

Picking the perfect name brings a lot of pressure. Most parents spend a lot of time deliberating over which name is the name. And when Baby comes, any other name would not be as sweet as the name you have chosen. 


Deirdre Johns is Mom to Henry, an eight and a half-year-old lover of animals and nature. She has been teaching English for thirteen years, currently at Hilton Head Christian Academy, and has lived in the Lowcountry with her family since 2012.