The Unbearable Lightness of Choosing a Baby Name

Whether we’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or simply have a lot of extra time on the internet, plenty of women can spend hours searching for the right baby name.  We read lists of the most popular, favorite up-and-coming, celebrity-inspired and literary-inspired (by which I’m always disappointed).  From there, we move to the more obscure collections – soap opera names, names from musicals or Gilligan’s Island.  We search the names of every ethnicity we might possibly have a connection to.  My cousin’s husband is from Moscow, so a Russian name might work.  A hundred years ago, someone in my family came over from Croatia, maybe I should look at Slavic names?  No, I don’t know how to pronounce them, because I’ve never even heard the language spoken, but there’s history there.

If you’re actually pregnant, this process is extremely stressful.  Finding the right baby name is difficult.  Getting the father of your child to agree with you is even harder.  Thinking of all the possible nicknames your child can get and reconciling with them is the hardest of all.

Sure, there are some people who have been planning their baby name since middle school.  A friend of mine still swears that she will name her first son Christian, after Christian Slater.  In those situations, it seems to be easier.  But I think every pregnant woman will doubt their name from time to time, either because naming is so important or the hormones are just too overwhelming.

To help sort through the confusion, I’d like to offer some baby naming tips.  These won’t work for everyone and I can’t guarantee that it will give you the most amazing baby name ever, but it might save you from a disaster.

Get over the odd spellings.  You want to know what’s worse than a unique name?  A normal name spelled in a completely ridiculous way.  For a long time, I was used to people asking if I spell my name “Ay or Ey.”  Now, there’s Lindsay, Lindsey, Lyndsay, Linsy, Lyndsy, Linzee.  (I’m not joking, I’ve seen them.)  You aren’t making the name unique; you’re making it obnoxious for teachers and young children alike.

Remember that “Trendy” changes every year. Some names gain fame or infamy based on pop culture.  They’re a little like a dot-com, people put a lot of stock into them and then they crash tumbling to the ground.  The latest reports are that Bella will be the next to go – thanks, Twilight!  Parents just need to remember that what’s popular now won’t be popular when your children are older.  Pretty soon we’ll have a bunch of little Hermiones running around to prove this point.

Rich kids can get over eccentric names.  Yes, Angelina and Brad are super creative.  They are just artsy, beautiful people, aren’t they?  The difference between your children and their children is this: when Knox goes to school and children taunt him with a million Knock Knock jokes a day, he’ll get to look at them and say, “Um… My mom is Angelina.  I live in a castle.”  If you’re children can’t say that, it will be a lot harder to get through the torment.

Random objects don’t make great names. Apple, Audio, Pilot, Blanket, Bluebell.  These are names gone wrong.  I don’t care if you dreamt it, if it’s the first thing you saw after you gave birth or it’s just your favorite snack.  Inanimate objects do not make good baby names.  This shouldn’t need to be explained.

Honestly, I hope your baby has a wonderful, perfect name.  I hope you don’t get overwhelmed by the Names from Nascar, Hipster Guide to Naming  and Yin-Yang Twin Names.  Those ridiculous associations don’t mean that if you name your son Dale, he’ll start chewing tobacco.  Find a name that you love and you don’t mind screaming at the top of your lungs for the next couple decades.  You and your little bundle of joy will be just fine.

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    • Eileen


      And since I sense this will be a comment trend, if I ever have a daughter, her name will be Anna or Victoria. A son will be Garrett or Jeremy. Please note that these are all real names that have been used steadily for several centuries, at least.

    • Beth

      One of the most annoying name things I have ever seen was a women who had a normal name (I don’t even remember what it was) but it was spelled without capitals. Like jane smith. And she was being mentioned in the paper so they had to mention after her name that it was legally spelled without capitals. Seriously, fuck her and her parents. Her parents for doing something so stupid, and her for not fixing it the second she legally could. If your dumb name has to be explained every time it’s written down, you suck. A lot.

      • Lindsay Cross

        You brought up a good point that I forgot… a name should never need a symbol in place of a letter. I realize, most parents would never do this. But I pray that no one will take inspiration from K$sha and forever ruin their child.

    • Rachel

      I work in an interesting school; our kids have very odd names (at least to me). I have Olonix, Jatavion, Dre’tavious, Dequavious, Ketie (pronounced like “Katie”), Shamarya, Che, Kitzia, and a host of others that I work with on a daily basis. I understand the need to be unique, but c’mon, people. Stop improvising vowels. My kids will be Cole and Kate, which are both family names. Short, sweet, and should be impossible to mispronounce.

    • Lea

      I always like Cole or Colton for a boy, and Lorelai for a girl. Both are a bit obscure but nothing too difficult.

    • Amy;s Cooking Adventures

      I completely agree! making up spelling just makes you look stupid. Same with the wacky names. How do these people expect their children to be taken seriously?

      Amy’s Cooking Adventures

    • Jennifer Wright

      If I really, seriously believe that if I had a boy a good middle name would be “Danger” because, in addition to making him the coolest kid in school, it would MAYBE make him grow up to be an archeology professor who fights Nazis and evil voodoo priests who RIP OUT HEARTS WITH THEIR BARE HANDS, well, does that mean that I’m not ready to have a child?

      • Lindsay Cross

        Hmmm… it’s an interesting question. But having the middle name of Danger is really awesome. So I guess it would depend on your first name choice. The first name would need to be an actual name.

    • Rose

      You forgot the importance of heeding initials, especially when choosing a middle name that begins with a vowel. How my parents never noticed they were bestowing the illustrious initials of RIP onto their only daughter is beyond me…

      • Olivia

        mine are OCD. yup….

    • Olivia

      I’m a Potter fan who probably WOULD name a girl Lily and a boy James. However, these are real names, so wouldn’t feel like I’m ruining my kid’s lives.