Depending on your disposition, naming a baby can be the most fun or the most stressful aspect of expecting a child. But even if the excitement of your options outweighs the anxiety, it's still a serious task that can bring up more than a few considerations and even arguments with your family, friends, and partner. There's a lot to take into account, but there are a lot of things people, I think, worry about too much.
OK, so saying "you don't have to worry" to a parent doesn't mean they're not going to worry. And, trust me, I get it! You have a million people with a million opinions and a whole bunch of stories about names being key to future professional success and stories about people who grew up hating their names and this is all to say nothing of cultural or family traditions. Naming a human you haven't even met yet can be stressful and feel like a whole lot of responsibility on your shoulders. But I'm here to tell you that a lot of the things that might feel very important right now, in the end, aren't. Naming a baby is the first gift you give a child and it will last their entire lives.
If you and your partner love a name and choose it because you want to share that love with your little one, that's what counts. That's not to say there can't be other considerations to mull over, but feel free to ignore any of the following, if you choose:
Names get popular for a reason — lots of people like them. And if you like them too that's OK! Popularity alone is not a reason to shun a name you like, especially since popularity by region can vary.
For example, my son is named the eternally popular (and awesome) name "William." He was also born the year of Will and Kate's wedding so it became even more popular, going from the fifth to the third most popular boy name that year nationally. But in New York, where we lived, it was the 21st most popular. Is it still popular? Relatively. But my kid is 8 and he has literally never had another "William" in his class.
But even if he did, I wouldn't mind because it's still a great name. He's the only William in my house and that's what really matters.
On the other side of the coin, my daughter's name has never cracked the top 1,000 names in the United States, according to data from the Social Security Administration. Even in Italy, the name's country of origin, it's not super popular. Let me tell you the number of times this has been an issue: literally never. Seriously, it isn't a big deal because she loves her name and people are always pleasantly surprised when they hear it.
People put a lot of stock in whether or not their children's names "go together." And hey, if choosing names based on that makes you happy then, by all means, follow your bliss. I have a friend who just loves "I" names and all her kids names begin with "I." Awesome! Enjoy!
But, if you're ruling out names you really love because they don't "match"... why? First of all, the names you like probably kind of follow a similar taste anyway, but even if it doesn't... does it matter? Unless you're naming one child Bella Angelina and the other Fartson Badsister I don't think you need to worry about it. Your kids are individuals, even if they're close, and there will come a time when they aren't always around one another anyway.
"I've always loved the name Oliver, but my cousin named her son Oliver! So, I guess that's out."
It's not out. Do it! You are well within your rights. No one owns a name. If your cousin gets all mad about it that's a them problem, not a you problem.
"You're pregnant?! Congratulations! You know, in this family, the first child is always named Mortimer Wayne Smith. It's a tradition that goes back generations."
You are beholden to no tradition if you don't want to participate. If you do, I think that's lovely! But there are lots of ways to connect to loved ones and maintain family traditions that don't involve naming your child something you hate.
It's The Same Name As That One Crappy Person You Know
Hey, if a person has ruined a name for you that's legit. It definitely happens and it's a shame. But if you really and truly love a name, trust me, your child's name will overshadow it. It won't be, "That jerkface, Theo." It'll be, "My baby boy, Theo." Reclaim the name!
Whether People Will Spell It Right
Look, my name is Jamie. It's extremely straightforward. In fact, "Jamie" was the 29th most popular name the year I was born. And yet, as often as not, it's spelled wrong. Jaime. Jaimie. Jaimee. Jamey. Jaymie. I'm not exaggerating, I've gotten all of those and not just on Starbucks cups. Even when it's right there in the email, I'll get a wondrous variety of different spellings. And my last name? Kenney? Nine times out of 10 people read it fast and think it's Kennedy. It's not.
So, like, if people can't get Jamie Kenney right, don't put too much stock in the idea of picking something that'll be easy to spell. If given half an opportunity, people will screw it up.
"Oh we can't name her Briana Adelaide Delaney! Her initials spell out BAD."
"We can't name him Patrick Pettigrew! His initials will be PP!"
This just isn't an issue. Pablo Picasso had the initials PP but you've probably never thought about that or let it influence your opinion of him. This is not a problem. Maybe down South, where y'all monogram everything, it'll come up more? But overall it's really not something to sway you from a name you love.
(Basically the only exception to this rule I can think of is KKK. Avoid that. It's a bad one.)
Nicknames You Don't Like
If a name has a common nickname you don't like, there's a pretty simple solution: don't use it with your kid. Chances are other people won't use it either.
My son's name, William, has a ton of nicknames. Bill, Billy, Willy, Liam, Will. Will is fine, but the others? No thank you. This has never been an issue. His friends and teachers have only ever referred to him as William.
Some names come with sort of unusual meanings. Mallory means "unlucky," according to Name Berry. Emily means "rival." Tristan means "sorrowful." So, you know, not great? But — and I can't speak to the importance of name meanings in other cultures — here in the U.S., where name meanings are largely unknown and undiscussed in general conversation, you don't have to worry about it. If you want a name with a particular meaning that's cool, but if you like a name and find out it has a negative connotation you don't have to worry about ruining your child's self-esteem or future. Take it from me, Jamie, whose name means "supplanter" or "usurper."
Other People's Opinions
They can name their baby whatever they want. But this one is yours.