How to Pick the Best Name for Your Baby

Expectant parents spend hours preparing the nursery, poring over pregnancy and delivery books and going to childbirth classes. Yet surprisingly, many decide their child's given name within a matter of minutes, often spending more time selecting the right car seat or stroller.

What should parents-to-be consider when choosing a baby name? All About Baby, a personalized children's products company that has seen all types of name combinations, has come up with helpful tips to make the process interesting, fun and successful.

First, start with the experts. The choices today are staggering with more than 50,000 common names and spelling variations. Begin with some basic homework by buying a few baby-name books or a baby-name software program. Check online for the best buys.

You can also use the internet by tapping into dozens of internet sites that list popular baby names, some websites even offer customized search programs, complete with the meaning and origin of the names.

Somewhere during the middle of your pregnancy, start jotting down some of your favorite selections.

Next, begin mixing and matching the first and middle names along with the baby's last name to see how you like various combinations. How do the names sound together? How do they look on paper? This is the time to ask others for their opinion, so keep an open mind and have a little fun considering a wide range of names for your little one.

At the same time, keep in mind that names often bring up a myriad of emotions, and sometimes parents can have very different reactions to their partner's favorite choices. So we advise being respectful of your partner's feelings.

Trendy names are really in fashion -- especially with celebrities. However, there is always something to be said for the old standards that have endured the test of time. For instance, Bambi Nevada might seem like a cool choice today, but consider what is the best selection for an entire lifetime. What will this name look like decades later on a business card?

Along these same lines are exotic spellings and invented names, which are also in wide use today. Remember that kids can sometimes be cruel and a highly unusual name could be fodder for playground teasing.

As an adult, just think how many times during an average week you give and spell your name. Do you want to give your child a name that he or she could really resent later?

If you absolutely love a name, but can't tolerate the nickname that often goes with it, then think twice.

For example, I have a friend who named her son Michael, even though she hates the nickname, 'Mikey'. Now the mom spends far too much time and energy correcting kids, teachers and other parents who refer to him by the dreaded nickname. It's just not worth it.

Since ultrasound tests are not always interpreted correctly, All About Baby recommends choosing names for both sexes. Even when you think the gender is a certainty, it is still a good idea to have a back up name. Why? Sometimes the name that seemed perfect during your pregnancy just isn't the right match when the new baby finally arrives.

This actually happened to another mom that I know, who was having her second son, a boy. They learned the sex of the baby during pregnancy and planned for months to name their new son, Cameron Michael.

However, when I visited their home a few days after the baby's birth, I learned the parents had named him Matthew John. His mother's explanation was that after his birth, they all realized 'he just didn't look like a Cameron.' And you know, she was right, he looked like a Matthew John!

Everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to baby names, and family members can be especially outspoken. While it's fun to hear suggestions, especially during the first part of your name search, keep in mind that ultimately your child's name is your decision. It is impossible to make everyone happy.

Naming your infant is one of the most important tasks you will ever undertake. A person's name is truly a lifetime gift, and it helps define your child -- within the family, to friends, at school and to the outside world. If you consider the options carefully and select with love, you really can't go wrong.

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