One of the most exciting – and unexpectedly stressful – components about parenthood is picking out the name for your child.  It can be extremely exciting and fun to talk with your significant other about all the options, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you make that list.  Here are our suggestions for baby-naming…

Consider Your Child

This sounds a bit silly, but what we mean is: please keep in mind that your child, not you, will have this name for their entire life.  While you may think a name is really cute or adorable for a little baby, remember that your child will end up in school with other kids, applying for colleges and jobs, and sending out wedding invitations.  Envision your child as a baby, child, teenager, and adult with the name you have in mind – does it still fit?

The Big Decision: Baby Names - RealSimpleMama

Consider The Pronunciation (and Spelling)

This has been an issue for my husband and I, since we are bilingual.  We want a name for our son which sounds good, and isn’t easily butchered, in English and Spanish.  And while spelling the name a certain way may help strangers with its phonetics, again keep your child’s best interests in mind.  Our personal opinion is to avoid unnecessary letters, and all apostrophes.  But lots of names – like Kaylee Kayleigh Kailee – have multiple spellings for you to choose from.

Consider the Nicknames

I would not obsess over this one too much, as most little kids will get some sort of nickname from you or their classmates.  But it is still something to consider: for example, I love the name Gabriel but hate the nickname Gabe.

Update: we did name our first kid Gabriel!  Ha!  Reading this now, the name was just right for him. I still don’t like “Gabe” to be honest, and no one calls him that; maybe when he’s older, he’ll prefer it to his full first name. But hey it’s his name, so if that’s what he wants then it’s ok.

Consider the Last Name

Remember that the name of your choice has to flow with your last name.  When we weren’t sure if we were having a boy or girl, we talked about how we loved the name Emma.  But with our last name, “Emma Marquez” sounds like you have a stutter.  So that name is out!  If you plan to have a middle name, be sure that you test each name with and without the middle name.  Does it still sound good together?

Consider the Initials

Be careful not to spell out something undesirable with those three little letters!

Consider the Origin and Meaning

As a Catholic, I really like looking into the meaning of various Biblical and saints’ names.  It’s really important to us to have a name which has significance for our family and our faith.  We also want to be true to our heritage and not pick a name too far outside our culture.  But this of course is optional.

Consider Others’ Opinions… or not

We are being really conservative in asking other people their opinions on the names we like.  If you have your heart set on a name, and it’s passed all of the tests, you may not want to announce it.  It seems like everyone knows that one person who will say something to “ruin” your favorite baby name.  (I also know people who claim that once they announced their name of choice, a friend or relative stole it for their own child).  This is completely your call – we are really only sharing with a handful of people as we try to narrow down our list.  And ultimately, no one’s opinion is more important than yours anyway!

We ended up having a “short list” of three names for our son, and waited until he was born and we had seen his face before we chose a name. I know it’s not particularly common to do that, but I loved the experience. His middle name (a family name on my husband’s side) was chosen already, but it wasn’t until after we had him in our arms that my husband and I picked his first name. It was our first quiet time alone in our room after the birth, and my husband was holding our son while I laid in bed. We looked at each other, and both knew which name we wanted. 

With our daughter, we also had a middle name picked out already, and were fairly certain what first name we wanted too. But we didn’t really announce it until after she was born either!

I love our approach. It seems a bit strange to me to name someone before you even see them. We had pregnancy baby nicknames like Lovebug and Sweet Pea, but didn’t settle for official names before they’d been born. 

How do you plan on naming your kids? Do you like your choices or would you redo it differently?