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Baby Naming Rules for the New Year

January 22, 2020 Abby Sandel

If you’re expecting in 2020, these seven smart resolutions can help you make a naming decision you’ll never regret.

Stop waiting for love at first sight. Sometimes a name just clicks, and both parents immediately know that it’s The Name. But most of the time? Choosing a final name requires patience, compromise, and effort. Reading list after list waiting for a lightning bolt leads to frustration.

Accept that your mom might hate the name. That goes for your co-workers, your sister, that random person on the internet. Not everyone loves every name. And that’s okay! Odds are you’re not wild about their every one of their favorites, either.

Beware the Insta-perfect pick. Sure, I love a good Instagram birth announcement. But unless you’re Beyonce, your child’s name reveal is probably not a media event. Stick with the name that feels right for your family, even if it’s not likely to go viral. Yes, it’s fine to name your son James – it’s not boring, it’s classic!

Be realistic about popularity. Setting up guidelines makes sense, like avoiding the Top Ten or even Top 100. But too many parents reject their all-time favorites out of worry that Eliza is the new Olivia. Remember that choosing a name that no one will share comes with its own drawbacks.

Duplicate … with caution. You probably don’t want two close-in-age cousins both answering to Henry. But ruling out every name shared by every baby you’ve ever met – or heard of? That way lies madness. Yes, you can name your daughter Josephine even though your freshman year roommate did, too. And just because Beth in Accounting has a Max doesn’t mean that you have to take it off your list forever, either. 

Build in some balance. Classic firsts benefit from sparky middles, and wild, daring firsts need something more traditional to serve as anchors. Catherine Arrow – or Arrow Catherine – works better than Catherine Ann or Arrow Calanthe.

Use the name you love. It’s easier said than done, and yet every rule really comes down to this: she who raises the child picks the name. You’ll sing it, shout it, and enter it into countless forms. Your child will ask, one day soon, to explain why she’s Millie instead of Chiara.

And if the name that you adore breaks one of the first six resolutions? This is me giving you permission to proceed regardless. Because using a name you love – one that reflects a parent’s overwhelming love for her child – matters most of all.

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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