Sure, the name you choose for your baby will be a defining piece of his or her identity for a lifetime. No pressure.
We talked to the experts — professionals and parents alike — for their tips on how to pick the perfect name… with no regrets.
Here are the top things parents wish they knew before naming their little bundle of joy:
1. The name is super popular.
“I had only heard of a couple of people with my daughter’s name, prior to naming her,” mum Mari Carmen Vega wrote on our Facebook page. “Now, it feels like I hear her name everywhere!” It’s a common complaint — you’ve never heard the name Isabella, or Aiden, until you give it to your baby… and suddenly it’s shooting up the charts. If you’d hoped to give your child a unique name, a sudden surge of popularity can cause some name regret. Do your homework: You can check whether a name’s popularity is trending up or down online. Most first-time expectant parents don’t hang out with little kids a lot; if you really want to find out what’s popular in your town, talk to new parents or preschool teachers to find out whether your favourite “secret” name really is.
2. Family will learn to love it.
You may get major push-back if you float ideas out loud. But the reality is that after that precious baby comes, you’ll find that people suddenly adore a name they hated when it was merely a hypothetical suggestion — now that it belongs to a real-world, cherubic little human. “We hear parents say they wish they’d known that grandma and grandpa often learn to love names they’d objected to during the pregnancy,” said Nameberry co-founder Pamela Redmond Satran. “Sometimes grandparents’ baby name ideas are just old-fashioned and once they learn from real-life experience that names like Elsie or Juniper are no longer considered weird, they’re fine with them.”
3. Some people just won’t get it.
Some parents-to-be choose to keep picks totally private until delivery. But a focus group of trusted friends — or even strangers — can help anticipate and avoid issues like pronunciation or spelling confusion. “The downside of keeping name choice quiet is that you don’t learn that nobody is sure how to pronounce Kelilah or knows whether Rowan is a boy or a girl — and people say they wish they’d known they’d have to deal with that kind of name-based confusion every day,” said Nameberry’s Satran. “If you don’t want to field these kinds of opinions with your friends and colleagues, join an anonymous online forum and test out name ideas there. Ask for honest opinions and don’t be defensive; you can still make your name choice in private and you won’t be blindsided by questions and confusion after your baby’s here.”
4. Most name associations don’t last.
When choosing our babies’ names, it’s hard not to conjure every personal reference from our lives: that childhood friend who once insulted us in the playground, that mean first boss, that uni girlfriend of our partner. But that kind of process of elimination ends up eliminating, well, everything. Baby Name Wizard author Wattenberg advised, “[Remember] that most name associations are fleeting. That weird client you worked with last month or that supporting character on Glee will fade from memory soon, and you'd regret giving up your favorite names for them.”
5. Pop culture can change everything.