Shortly after finding out you're pregnant, you likely start thinking of names (if you haven't thought of one already). And while these days, it may seem like anything goes when it comes to choosing a name for your baby, there are still a few guidelines parents should follow.
We spoke with baby naming expert Sherri Suzanne, founder of My Name for Life, about what parents should -- and shouldn't -- take into consideration when making one of the biggest decisions of their lives.
- Not testing your baby's name in the real world. A name that seems nice on paper, may not work well in daily life. It's true for both traditional and unusual names. "Parents need to 'lift names off the page' and make sure they can be said easily and with confidence," says Suzanne. If parents can't say a name comfortably, their child, and their peers, may not either. Imagine using the name as your own, and say it out loud. Be on the lookout for tongue twisters, rhymes, and strong incompatibility with your last name, taking nicknames into account. For example, if your last name is Penn, you may want to rethink the name Benjamin ... Ben Penn.
- Using bizarre or nonsensical spellings just to be different. Many names have more than one accepted spelling as a result of passing through several languages. Some parents prefer these alternative spellings, and the distinctiveness is worth the need to specify Steven or Stephen, Emily or Emilie. "However, invented or rare spellings like Emmarly or Emalee (for Emily) should be avoided," notes Suzanne. "Not only is the connection with the original name lost, but the unpredictable spelling guarantees errors. If you want to be original, better to just pick an uncommon name."
- Not learning what's popular today (to avoid surprises tomorrow). "When kindergarten starts this fall, parents of Jaydens, Noahs, Avas, and Chloes may be surprised that their child is sharing their name with several classmates," explains Suzanne. "That's because names that seem different and unique in a parent's generation may, in fact, be a 'Top 10' name among today's newborns." But that doesn't mean you have to reject a popular name you love. In fact, statistically speaking, a Top 10 name today is held by far fewer children than in years before. But it's worth noting that name remorse can happen when if you're striving to be original and learn you are not.
- Forgetting the technological world we live in. Parents have always been told to look out for unintended words created by initials. Nobody wants their future businessman or woman to carry an attache embossed with H.A.G. or A.S.S. And that still holds true, but nowadays parents have another issue to take into account: Email addresses and log-in names. "Parents should look out for names that pair the first initial and the last name," says Suzanne. "For example, Sebastian Cary's email address may be firstname.lastname@example.org, and Grace Reed's user name could be "greed."
- Not checking for infamous namesakes. A quick Internet search of the first/last name will alert you if your new baby shares the name of history's worst dictator or most notorious bank robber.
- Succumbing to last-minute pressure. Post-birth is a busy, emotional time. Name remorse often happens when parents abandon their long-planned name just before leaving the hospital after hearing remarks from visiting friends or family. "I tell parents to decide on the name or at least one to two finalists and stay on the path unless they come up with something better," remarks Suzanne.
- Polling others for baby name input. Parents troubled by anything less than a unanimous thumbs-up will find name polling causes needless anxiety. Like anything related to personal tastes, not everyone will like your names. However, if you feel confident about your choices and enjoy feedback. feel free to ask friends and family members for input. If not, best to keep your name under wraps until after your baby is born.
Does the baby name you're thinking of make any of these "mistakes"?
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