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5 Mistakes Even Smart Baby Namers Make

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Ever feel like you’re a baby name klutz and that there are other, infinitely smarter baby namers out there who do everything right and magically arrive at the perfect name with no fuss or wrong turns?

Not true.  Here are the five most common mistakes even the smartest baby namers make.

1.     They try to psych out the Social Security list.

There’s something about naming a baby that can inspire even the most math phobic among us to turn to the Social Security list of most popular names and try to deconstruct it with the precision of an actuary.  But baby name ups and downs depend on much more than statistics, and you can drive yourself crazy trying to psych out the numbers in search of the name that’s unusual but not too weird, stylish but not in danger of getting overpopular.

How better to find names that achieve the golden mean?  By consulting nameberry, of course.

2.     They’re afraid to tell anyone their name ideas.

Many parents today keep their favorite names secret in fear of namenapping or harsh critiques, and that can be a smart thing in some cases.  But it can also keep you from learning a name’s pitfalls, such as that nobody can understand what you’re saying unless you spell it, or that it’s prone to mispronunciation, or that there are three little girls with that name in the local nursery school.

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remorse4

The question of the week: Have you ever experienced namer’s remorse?

This is a term heard more and more frequently in the baby name world, describing the feeling of parents when they think they could have made a better choice for their child.

Have you ever regretted picking the name you picked?

If so, was this an immediate reaction as soon as you saw your baby, or did it happen later, when it just didn’t feel like the right fit?

Or did it happen when the name became mega-popular—or when you came to realize that it already was?

A compromise choice you regret making?

A response to negative reactions you got when people heard the name?  Spelling or pronunciation problems?

Was it just a twinge or was your remorse strong enough for you to consider actually making a legal change?

Anyone out there who did make a change?

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Ooooops! Baby Name Mistakes

HWE_Maine1

Novelist Christina Baker Kline, whose wonderful new book Bird in Hand comes out this week, writes about how even someone who names fictional people for a living can make mistakes when naming real live babies.  Like when she named her three sons: Eli, his brother William, and his other brother William.

You’d think that someone who spends her days creating and naming characters might have gotten the hang of it by the time she had to name some actual humans.  That’s what I thought, at least.  In fact, I was rather smug about it.  A novelist spends a lot of time, over the course of writing 300 pages, with the characters she names, so you learn to choose carefully.

Names can instantly reveal a person‘s class, age, social standing, and even race. They have positive and negative connotations. And the wrong name can be disastrous. For example, a friend of mine named Brandy is an award-winning journalist who has had to battle people’s preconceptions all her life about her name.  I would never do that to a character!

So why did I do it to my kids?

(Im charitably saying “I,” but for the record my husband was an equal and willing partner in this.)

We named our firstborn William Hayden Baker Kline (yes, four names – bear with me), after my father, William Baker, and a whole lot of Hadens — we added the “y” — in my husband’s family tree. We signed the birth certificate, sent out printed announcements, and received everything from picture frames to baby rattles to blankets with “William Hayden” and his birthdate inscribed.

But over the next few weeks, we began to second-guess.  This child was round and jolly, with curly red hair: a baby leprechaun.  The princely name of William just didn’t fit.  But Hayden – yes!  He was definitely a Hayden, a hobbity child of the heather-grown hills.  It was the perfect name for him, and, we thought, relatively undiscovered.

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