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How to Choose a Name for Your Baby

by SarahD on March 15, 2011

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Selecting a Name for Your Baby

It seems like deciding on a baby name is a pretty easy undertaking, right up until you have to do it.  After all, there are dozens of names you like and you’ve probably been thinking about it for years.  However, when it comes to crunch time and your baby is on the way, the responsibility of this decision might lay pretty heavily on your shoulders.  After all, a person’s name can significantly affect the way they’re treated throughout their life.  If you choose the wrong one, your child may be teased, whereas the right one could land them in a high-profile political position one day (everyone wants to believe their child will be president).  You should know that the way they are raised has a lot more to do with their outcome in life than the name you choose.  However, a name is still an important decision, and not one to be made on a whim or without considering the ramifications.  So if you need some help in this endeavor, here are a few things to consider before you settle on a name.

1.  Potential for teasing.  Some names are almost certainly going to earn your child years of teasing, especially if their inherent physical features play a role.  For example, if members of your family tend to suffer a height deficiency, naming a daughter Bridgette will almost certainly incur the addition of “the Midget”.  And while John is a fairly common name, it is likely to carry some bathroom references.  You see where this is going.  Unfortunately, many names can be subject to such cruel reinterpretation by kids in the schoolyard, but if you consider the possibility beforehand, you might just avoid the regular teasing.

2.  Potential for nicknames.  Many long or difficult-to-pronounce names inevitably become shortened to a nickname, something you should think about before you name your child Robert (Bob), Brittney (Brit), Allison (Allie), or Chandrasekhar (Chandra?), just for example.  The truth is, you can’t necessarily control whether or not your child will be dubbed with a nickname.  Even John’s are often called Jack, for some inexplicable reason.  But if you want your son or daughter to go by the name you give them, you might want to avoid anything too lengthy.

3.  Others with the same name.  While you are well within your rights to name your child after someone famous, there are bound to be comparisons drawn if you choose to name your son Michael Bolton or your daughter Lindsay Lohan.  Selecting a famous name for your kid may impact how they are viewed throughout their lives, so consider carefully before plucking a political, religious, or celebrity figure from history as your child’s namesake.

4.  Nation of origin.  Many cultures have beautiful names that, thanks to this era of unparalleled connectivity, are beginning to spread across the globe.  Just be aware that choosing baby names from a different culture may cause problems for your child.  Abebi may be a common name for a girl in Africa, but endowing a Caucasian daughter with this moniker could cause confusion or outright disdain from others.

5.  Meaning of the name.  Some names have a certain meaning in their native tongue, so you should make every effort to be aware of these before you label your child with a connotation you didn’t intend.  Of course, the meaning may be known only to you and your family (if, for example, you choose to name your child after your parents or grandparents).  In this case, your child may one day want information on their namesake, so be prepared to give it.

Sarah Danielson writes for Moms Who Think where you can find amazing recipes, informative parenting articles, diet and nutrition advice, and much more.

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