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Category: Dos, Don’ts, Rules, & Guidelines

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A few weeks ago we asked the Nameberry moms and dads to tell us their best baby names rules.  What followed were hundreds of suggestions, from the idiosyncratically individual (All middle names must be Celtic and begin with R) to rules so universal they might apply to everyone.

Rule Number 1, according to one berry?  No dumb names.  We’re down with that, along with these 21 other smart, sensible rules that every modern baby namer should follow:

1.     No yooneek spellings.  Name your son (or daughter) Peyton or even Payton.  But not Peighton, Patyn, or Paitynne.

2.     No made-up names.  Translating a meaningful place or word into a name is all right, but don’t manufacture a name from whole cloth.  Jaunel and Calton, we’re looking at you.

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Canadian guest blogger and name book writer Shandley McMurray offers some advice on global baby names–picking a name that will travel well. (And those are her beautiful kids in the illustration.)

Growing up with a name like Shandley in Canada wasn’t always easy. I became tired of correcting people’s spelling and pronunciation of it, and, of course, I bemoaned the lack of personalized products like pens and rulers that adorned the desks of my more traditionally-named friends. Then, the world’s increasing reliance on email made things even more difficult, with online editors and others I hadn’t met in person often referring to me as Mr. rather than Ms. in their correspondence.

Now don’t get me wrong—I’ve always loved my name. I’m a loud and opinionated free spirit and a quieter name like Elizabeth or Ashley just wouldn’t have fit. My name set me apart and I took pride in the fact that my parents had invented such a unique name.  So when it came time to name my own children, I thought long and hard about my decision.

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Baby Name Rules: What are YOURS?

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We were intrigued by this thread on baby name rules over on the Nameberry forums, where visitors detail their personal and family rules for choosing names.

It made us want to write down our own baby name rules; I mean, our personal rules as well as Nameberry’s rules.

As a mom, I’d say my rules for my kids’ names were that they:

Sound distinct from each other. My husband’s family has a Tom and a Tim, a Jane and a John, and I wanted to avoid that kind of matchy-matchy thing.  So one of my first rules was that my kids’ names sound very different from each other. I didn’t anticipate that Rory, Joseph, and Owen would end up being called Ro, Joe, and O.

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Forbidden Baby Names

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When a name like Talula Does The Hula from Hawaii gets banned, it makes big news. But there are lots of other names that, now and since the beginning of recorded name time, have quietly been relegated to the forbidden list.  No judge may have pounded a gavel, no name-sensitive Napoleon decreed a law against outlandish names as he did in France.  But these names have nevertheless been shunned by parents in the Western World – and sometimes even by those who’ve been unlucky enough to be born with them.

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5 Routes to Baby Name Happiness

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In our best fantasies, here’s how we name our babies:

MOM-TO-BE — Darling, I just love the names Susannah and Henry, don’t you?

DAD-TO-BE — Oh, yes, dear.  And I might also suggest Jane, after your mother, and John, after my dad.

MOM — What excellent ideas, sweetheart.  So if it’s a girl, we’ll name her Susannah Jane, and a boy will be Henry John.

DAD — Perfect.  Now why don’t you let me rub your feet?

In reality, discussions go more like this:

MOM — How about Susannah or Henry?

DAD — Blech.  I hate those kind of frilly names; if we have a girl, I think we should name her something cool, like Harley or Parker.  And if we have a boy, my mother says we have to name him after my father.

MOM — Your mother’s not naming our baby.  And your taste in names sucks.

Usually, after nine months or possibly ten, the parents manage to arrive at a name they both can live with.  Why does baby-naming inspire such deep feelings and strong arguments in a couple who may have an easy time getting along in so many other ways?

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