Baby naming is all fun and games until it’s your baby and the hospital hands you a form to fill out with a blank space that says, “First Name Here.” Let’s face it, this is serious business. Your kid is going to be carrying this decision you’ve made around for the rest of his/her life! Unless you totally blow it, of course, and they legally change it themselves at 18.
I’ve done this baby-naming thing twice now which would qualify me as an expert on cable news. After weeks of research, debate, and deliberation, here’s what I’ve learned to help make your baby naming experience seamless, smart, and regret-free.
- Don’t be unique just to be unique. I love unique names. But using the name “Homonym” just because you’ve never heard it used before doesn’t make you clever. It makes you pompous and lame. No offense. Come up with a unique name that has personal meaning, a special message, or a background story. Then, if people try to mock it you can tell them the beautiful story behind it and make them feel like a complete turd.
- Don’t tell anyone your top contenders. Well, maybe your partner but even that’s questionable if he or she has lousy tastes. This one is challenging because it’s in our nature to seek approval from family and friends. But don’t give in! It will rarely encourage, and mostly discourage your efforts. I told my mom a favorite and she responded, “That sounds like a dog’s name.” And with that, one less name to consider. This brings me to the next point…
- Don’t name your baby what could easily be confused for a pet’s name. Imagine your son telling someone his name only to hear back, “that’s my Goldendoodle’s name!” Ouch.
- Do some due diligence. Check online to see if there’s anyone else out there with the same name who might poorly represent an otherwise beautiful name. And see how that name is portrayed online, by celebrities and commonfolk alike. But don’t go overboard. I love hearing about parents who purchase domain rights to the child’s new name, or who start infant Instagram accounts. I suppose it’s never too early to have a squad, right? And Beyoncé takes the cake for trademarking her daughter’s name. Maybe give your child a little time to settle into this world first before igniting her/his online brand, ok?
- Do compromise. I delivered the baby, so I think my choice counts for 51% of the vote. But my partner had an intimate role to play in this new creation, so his opinion is important, too. Plus, you want your partner to be happy, especially in those delirious, sleep deprived first few weeks where you need all the help you can get. Which is why I propose the ultimate mommy compromise. If your partner agrees to your first name selection, you give them full decision-making power on the middle name (don’t try this if your partner has terrible taste, as mentioned above). This plan is brilliant, by the way, because it makes your partner feel extremely powerful while ultimately you get the master prize. This is probably why the middle name was even invented… to quell the loser in the first name battle.
- Be wary of trends. The problem with trends is they fade. And what was once considered cool and cutting edge can quickly become contrived and slightly ridiculous. I know Game of Thrones names are huge right now, but does anyone really know where that series is headed? What if this season totally blows? A while ago I named my dog after a popular movie character. Then two (terrible) sequels came out and I looked like a fool! And this was my dog (see #3). Imagine if it was my son or daughter!
If you only follow one of these suggestions, make it #2 and don’t share the name with a soul, because once the baby is born all bets are off. As soon as you’ve inked the name on the birth certificate, it doesn’t matter what name or astrological sign or chemical compound you went with, the unspoken rule in baby names is what’s done is done and no one can bitch about it. Well, to your face at least.
And last piece of advice… don’t let anyone tell you how to name your baby. It’s your baby and you can name him or her whatever the heck you want.