5 Mistakes Even Smart Baby Namers Make

5 Mistakes Even Smart Baby Namers Make

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.

If you don’t want to open your ideas up to judgment but you still want to see how they fly in the world, try them out on people you don’t know very well: acquaintances, shopkeepers, message board cohorts.

3.     They fight with their spouses about names.

Sure, we fight with our spouses just like most married people, but baby names are one arena where you should tame the tempers and get at the reasons beneath your fights.  Names are often symbolic of deeper beliefs about family, religion, gender, self-image – all kinds of big and important things – and rather than engaging in heated power struggles about Henry vs. Hugo, it’s smarter to sit down over a nice dinner and talk about your hopes and dreams for your child-to-be and how your name ideas connect with them.

A good ground rule is to take all names off the table that the other really doesn’t like, no matter how much you love them yourself.  What you’re looking for are names that you both feel happy with, even if they’re neither partner’s top choice.

4.     They anticipate initials, nicknames, and teasing potential, but misjudge the name’s rhythm.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but in general the best combinations involve unequal numbers of syllables in each element of the name.  So, if you’ve got a two-syllable last name, you might want to look for a three-syllable first name and one-syllable middle name, or vice versa.  The mistake you don’t want to make is the one I made with my third child and give him a two-two-two name.  Not terrible, of course, but not nearly as musical as a name with different syllabic rhythms.

5.     They overthink the decision.

Of course, we believe you should think about baby names long and hard (and make it fun too).  You should give yourself lots of time to explore plenty of names and make the most informed decision.

But it is possible to find so many names you like that you’re unable to settle on just one.  Or to be so attuned to every name’s down side that you can’t find any you like.  Or to settle on a name today only to change your mind tomorrow – and do that 28 different times.  Or to bring the baby home from the hospital and decide you’ve made a grievous name mistake.

At some point, it makes sense to settle on a name decision even if you’re not 100% sure – to just give yourself time to live with a name for a while without thinking about the subject constantly.  Part of the difficulty of choosing a name is letting go of all the other names that carry different advantages.  But in the end you need to let go of name debates and move on to more important duties, like being the best possible parent to your child.

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.