Naming your baby can be a source of pride, joy and stress. It can be heavily emotionally weighted for you, your spouse and family members. And it's something your child will have to live up to (or down) for the rest of their lives, unless they want to pay the money to legally change it at some point. As the mother of six children, I'm well acquainted with the struggles involved in naming a baby. So, I'd like to share with you some things that my husband and I have thought of as we've gone through the process over the years.
What is important to YOU and your spouse in a name? Are you looking for a name that's trendy? Do you need to have certain initials? Is it important to you that you use a family name? Regardless of any of the advice in the rest of the article, or any other article you read, this is definitely the most important consideration. This is a name you will say a LOT over the years, sometimes gently, sometimes in frustration-- but MANY, MANY times. It's important that you pick a name that you like. As your child grows older, you'll want to tell him or her the story of "the name".
Consider how the name will affect your child. Robo Astrobot Smith may make you and your friends giggle, but how is little Robo going to feel when he goes to school? You may love the spelling of Jazyn over the more common Jason, but you're not the one who's going to have to spend the rest of your life spelling it. You love your grandfather, but how is little Willard going to feel on the playground? If you really have an odd name that you just have to use, consider using it for a middle name. We have a family name Reath that I wanted to use. We used it as a middle name, choosing a much more common name for the first name.
Will your child be going by their given name or a nickname? If you like the idea of a nickname, can the name be eaily shortened to accomodate that? If you don't like nicknames, is everyone going to assume that your child's name should be shortened? For example, our oldest son's name is Matthew. That's it. Matthew. Not Matt. Not Mattie. Matthew. My only concern in choosing the name was that I did not want him to be "Matt". We still chose to go with Matthew, but we do find that we often have to correct people who want to shorten his name.
Can you finish what you start? When we started naming our children, we had no idea we would end up with such a large family. Consequently, one of our early requirements was that their first names be Biblical AND family names. That was great until our fifth boy was born, and we were fresh out of family names that we wanted to use. And we'd used most of the Biblical ones we liked as well. Hence, the reason our fifth son is Quincy (which, by the way, means "Estate of the fifth son"). Hopefully, he won't feel left out when he gets older and realizes his name doesn't fit with everyone else's. If you start out with a pattern, try to make sure it's one you can continue-- just in case. Even if you don't think you'll need to name five or six children, sometimes life takes weird twists and turns.
Will you end up roll calling your children? Sure, you think it's cute NOW to name all your children names that start with an M. But once you have two or three of them, your brain has a funny way of not always calling the correct M name when you need it. When you're calling "Mark. I mean, Mindy. I mean MORRIS!", don't say I didn't warn you!
Does the name sound weird with your last name? Some names are great until you put them with a last name. Be careful of ending the first name with the same letter that the last name begins with. Nothing wrong with Adam Masters, but if you're not careful with your pronounciation, people will think the child's name is Adam Asters. Some names sound like used car salesmen or exotic dancers or politicians. Be careful before you give your child one of them.
Once you consider all of these things, you'll want to find lots of names to choose from. Where do you find them? Well, you can always visit a baby naming website. Ask friends and family members for suggestions. Take a look at some baby naming books (you might want to consider checking them out from the library, so you don't end up with a collection of 15 baby naming books after you give birth).
Naming your child is only one of many hard decisions you'll have to make in your child's life. Use it as an opportunity to work on those decision making skills. Most of all, have fun and enjoy the process! When you're holding your bundle of joy and cooing his name, the time you spent picking the name will seem well spent.