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How Not To Name the Baby

January 20, 2016 Pamela Redmond

Our focus is usually how to do things right: How to find the best baby names and choose a name for your child that you — and he or she — will love forever.  But occasionally we need to step back and warn you what NOT to do when naming the baby.

Here, the Top 10 Baby Name Mistakes:

1. BYPASSING A NAME YOU LOVE JUST BECAUSE A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER DOESN’T LIKE IT. You’ll soon find that everyone wants to get into the naming act with suggestions and (often negative) opinions, but you’ll regret walking away from one of your favorites because someone else tries to convince you it’s not attractive or stylish.

2. REJECTING A NAME YOU LOVE BECAUSE IT’S TOO HIGH ON THE NATIONAL POPULARITY LIST. Many parents today are obsessed with tracking names on the Social Security most popular list, discarding those they fear are getting overexposed. But truly loving a name is a more important factor in being content with your choice than its standing on any list.

3. BEING TOO CONCERNED WITH A NAME’S LITERAL MEANING. So what if it means ”graceful” in Old German if it’s clunky in Modern American?

4. BEING TOO CONCERNED WITH A NAME’S PERSONAL MEANING.  Choosing a name with personal significance — the city where your baby was conceived, an artist you admire — is increasingly important for parents. But it’s possible to take this too far, which you’re doing if you name your baby Porsche or Pasadena or — yes, it happened — ESPN.

5. BOWING TO FAMILY PRESSURE TO CHOOSE A TRADITIONAL NAME. A family favorite or a name that reflects your ethnic or religious heritage can be a wonderful gift to pass on to you child, providing it’s YOUR choice and not your mother-in-law’s.

6. NOT TALKING THROUGH THE NAME DECISION WITH A SPOUSE. Too often, couples get locked in battle over their name favorites rather than talking through the reasons they like the names they do — wanting a name more distinctive than the one you grew up with, for instance, or wishing to honor your ethnic heritage.  Talking through these deep issues will almost certainly lead you to a choice you can agree on.

7. BELIEVING A NAME IS UNUSUAL JUST BECAUSE YOU’VE NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE. Trends change quickly and many names that were virtually unheard of by today’s first-time parents–Harper, Emerson, Sawyer–are epidemic among children of both genders.  Check out popularity statistics–they’re here — and keep an ear open in your neighborhood playground.

8. CHOOSING A NAME WITH A DIFFICULT SPELLING OR PRONUNCIATION. Spelling Riley Rylea or varying Aidan to Aeddin might seem creative to you, but it’s sure to make life more complicated for your child.

9. THINKING YOU CAN CONTROL NICKNAMING. You may insist on Jacob, but the world may still wanna call your little boy Jake— and the world is much bigger than you are.

10. NAMING A BABY, NOT THE CHILD OR ADULT HE OR SHE WILL BECOME. A diminutive like Jojo or an endearment like Precious might be cute for an infant or toddler, but it’s better to choose a name that will serve your child on the more formal occasions of his or her future.

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized 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. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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