The story of my name goes something like this. My dad — not yet married or expecting a child — was driving cross country for a music festival when suddenly a name popped into his head like a vision, and he knew deep in his soul that one day he would have a daughter and name her Autumn. This is a rare exception to the baby naming process, which tends to be fraught with indecision. But it doesn't have to be this way — expecting parents can lighten their load by focusing on which questions to ask to determine the perfect baby name.
Although it doesn't sound like my parents logged too many hours fretting over naming me (and my dad will neither confirm nor deny if there were any drugs influencing his supernatural naming vision), most parents want to make sure their name choice for their child is something they feel good about. Whether choosing a family name or a moniker with a special meaning, it's a decision you make for your child that will follow them for life, so you want it to be as perfect as possible.
Wherever you are in the naming process, consider these 11 questions to help you choose a baby name that both you and your child will love.
1. How Will You Handle The Haters?
No matter what you name your child, someone is going to chime in with negative comments. Go ahead and decide how you will handle this commentary. I'm not saying that you should let potential criticism dissuade you from your choice. The opposite, actually. Imagining what that criticism might be and how you would deal with it is likely to reassure you that it's nothing you or your child can't handle. And then you can move forward with a name you love, because that's what really matters.
2. How Popular Is The Name?
If you're looking for a name that stands out, you can check sites like Baby Center which have lists of the most popular names each year. For example, in 2015, Liam and Emma came in at number one, while in 2014, the top names were Noah and Emma. If you want a unique baby name, you'll know which ones to avoid.
3. Has It Been Used By Friends/Family?
It's a common problem: you love a name that your cousin has already used. If you can't let go of that name, Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard and founder of NameCandy.com advised Parents, "Try something like, 'Wow, you have great taste — I love that name so much that I can't get it out of my head. Would you mind if we named our baby that, too?" People can be protective of the names they have chosen, so it's possible you may get some push-back, but that doesn't mean you can't come to a solution together.
4. Is It Too Unique?
Growing up with an uncommon name, I sometimes felt left out by not sharing a name with anyone else in the school. Although I have learned to appreciate the uniqueness of my name as an adult, growing up I always fantasized about having a more common name. If you are choosing a name that is super unique, there may be moments when you'll need to encourage your child to celebrate having a name that's different, instead of seeing it as a negative.
5. What Does It Mean?
Seeking a special meaning for your child's name? Try visiting a site like Baby Names, where you can search for names by meaning. Just enter a word like "brave" or "free" and the name generator will produce a list of names with that origin.
6. Is It Associated With A Celebrity?
If you really love the name Kanye, but are worried people will associate your child with a celebrity of the same name, just give it some time. As Today reported, name associations don't last forever, and often disappear as time goes on.
7. Are You Letting Others Influence You?
It is easy to feel pressure from family members to give your child a certain name. But if you aren't down with your baby being called Lexington Buick Smith, III — don't feel guilty! There is no reason to be bullied into a name that you don't feel is appropriate for your child. Stay strong and use the name you like best. Even if there are hurt feelings, people will get over it in time.
8. Will It Work With Sibling Names?
If this is not your first child, you may want to consider how the new baby's name will sound with the existing child(ren)'s. As Everyday Family pointed out, some families have themes for baby naming, and sticking with that theme makes sure no one feels left out. So if you've named your first two kids after presidents, you may want to do the same for the third child.
9. What Are Possible Nicknames?
Kids can be brutal, and being teased with an unfortunate nickname can be a real bummer. Wrack your brain to see if the name you are considering rhymes with any body parts or dirty words that could become attached to your child's name by classmates. Take it from Autumn Big Bottom, it's not easy to shake off.