If you're expecting a baby, you've probably spent at least a little bit of time thinking about baby names. Whether you opt for a name that is traditional, familial, or completely original to you, the options are virtually endless. You and your baby are going to have to live with your decision, though, and it very well might impact their future. So, you know, no pressure or anything. It's natural to wonder how to pick a baby name you and your baby will love not just initially, but as the years go by and your little one develops a personality. But, seriously, how do you get started?
According to baby name experts (yes, they totally exist), there are quite a few things you should consider when choosing a name for your baby. Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard, tells Parents, "It's tempting to think, I'm giving birth to her, so I should get to have the final say, but remember that the name is a powerful bridge to bonding." So how a name sounds and looks on paper, how popular it is, its meaning, historical significance, and how easy (or hard) it is to spell and pronounce are just a few things to think about when considering a name for your baby. If all else fails, baby name books and online generators can help, and you can even hire a consultant to help you pick the perfect name for your baby, based on your preferences, current trends, and scientific research.
Ultimately, you get to decide what you name your baby, but before you sign their birth certificate, read on for some tips on how to pick a name you (and they) will actually like later on:
According to baby name expert and UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, the names that sound best for many of us are those that are personal — names of family members or friends — historical — names of famous people in history — and names of fictional characters or religious figures. If a name gives you fond feelings or memories, chances are it will do the same for others.
While there used to only be a limited number of names that people picked from to name their babies, according to Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby, today people get seriously creative in their naming choices. That means your baby's name sends a strong message about they (and you) are to the world. No pressure or anything.
Keep It Simple
Whatever name you choose, you will probably be less likely to regret your choice if you choose a name that's easy to spell and pronounce, Wattenberg tells LiveScience. I learned firsthand when living overseas, though, that "easy to spell" and "easy to pronounce," definitely depend on your community, language, nationality, and even the region where you live. Other considerations to make, according to baby name consultant firm My Name For Life, are flow, how the name sounds and looks, and whether or not the name is likely to result in teasing on the playground or an unfortunate nickname.
Consider Your Baby's Future
Like it or not, names matter, and can potentially impact your career and the way you are treated. One study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior shows that people respond differently to names depending on racial bias, assuming that characters with "black- and Latino-sounding" names are scary or violent. Yes, that's about as horrible as it sounds.
Another study published in Journal of Human Resources showed that girls with more feminine names were less likely to study math and physics in high school and college.Whoa.
If you are not one to follow trends or want to start your own baby naming movement, check out the U.S. Social Security Administration's baby name statistics page. There you can see lists of the most popular baby names, by year and decade, and search to see which names on your list will guarantee your little one will share a name with half his Kindergarten class.
Use A Name Generator
If you are having trouble narrowing down your options, there are a ton of baby name generators available online that will take into consideration your personality, desired first letter of your baby's future name, culture of origin, and number of syllables. One site, Nymbler, even creates and updates a list of names, all based on which names you love and hate. You can keep going until you have a short list of names or a perfect match.
Make A Short List
Rather than consider every name in the baby book, you're probably better off making a short list of names to choose from. Having more choices can actually backfire — the more choices you have, the more stressed out you might get about making a decision. As name expert Laura Wattenberg tells LiveScience that having too many baby name choices can make you more likely you are to regret your selection later, or even wonder if you made the right choice to begin with.
UCLA research Albert Mehrabian has actually studied the psychology of how people react to names. His team surveyed people about a variety of name characteristics, with each name eventually getting an overall score of 1 - 100. According to his results, the highest overall scoring girl's name was Jacqueline, and boy's name was Steven. Which proves that, in 2002, those names were most appealing to their survey participants, which may or may not still be relevant now.
Most names that scored highly did tend to be traditional, maybe proving that classics are classic for a reason.
Hire A Consultant
Is the stress of naming your baby just too much? Hire a consultant. For a price, the consultants at My Name For Life can select a list of names for you to choose from, based on your personality, likes, dislikes, and any other criteria you provide.
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