My Name for Life

Selecting Baby Names

Use Your Sense and Your Senses.

Practical Tips for Baby Naming

How does it sound to your ear?

Is it harsh or pleasant? Compelling or unremarkable? Are the sounds comfortable to the English-speaking ear or does it use letter combinations that are difficult to pronounce? Does it sound compatible with the surname? Do the first and last names flow, or do they sound awkward and result in a rhyme or pun? Notice how names seem better balanced when the number of syllables in each name is unequal. Call the name out loud. Pretend the name is yours and introduce yourself. Recite the name in a row with your other children’s names.

How does it look to your eye?

Written language is beautiful. The flow of letters and syllables is part of the quality of a name. Does your name choice look well written? Does it follow predictable spelling patterns? Picture it in a newspaper article or on a diploma or business card.

What does it evoke in your mind?

It’s very enjoyable to know the original meaning of a name—especially when it is a very positive one. However, when picking a name, it’s the connotation that has more influence over your child rather than the literal meaning. Does it evoke the positive image you want for your child or does it invite ridicule? Does it bear the weight of a well-known personality, character, product or place with the same name? What baggage does the name carry that your child will have to unload during his or her lifetime? If you are worried about associations you don’t know about, you can search for the name in Google. (However, don’t get carried away by every person who has your child’s name.)

How does it feel in your heart?

A name doesn’t need to honor a member of your family, commemorate a life event, or remind you of your favorite book. But if they inspire your choice, all the better. Sometimes, it is enough simply to choose a beautiful name that conjures a vision of the life you wish for your child. Think twice if you find yourself defending your choice. “Defending” is not the same as telling how you arrived at the name—the latter being an enjoyable part of naming. Rather, defending happens when you anticipate a disappointing reaction—either in yourself or others—so you explain it away: “Her name is ‘Madison’ but I really wanted ‘Madeline’ except there was already a Madeline on our block. Oh well, we’ll probably just call her ‘Maddie’ anyway.” Pick the name that feels right to you.

Advice on the Most Important Gift You’ll Ever Give
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My Name for Life
My Name for Life