Sunday, May 01, 2005

Five Considerations When Naming Baby

By Brandi Rhoades

Choosing a baby name is probably one of the main decisions you will make in the coming months. New parents-to-be often agonize over what they will name their precious little one. Parents want to be able to choose the perfect name for the baby without even knowing him or her beforehand. Here are five factors that you will want to keep in mind as you are combing through the tens of thousands of names out there.

First, you should decide whether you want a unique name or not. You may be one of 12 people named "Amy" that you know and have no desire for your child to share a similar fate, or you may have a name that always makes people say, "What, now?" Keep that in mind as you are naming baby. A different name, particularly one that speaks to your family's cultural ideas or collective personality may be a good way for your child to stand out. You probably want to avoid something so odd, though, that your child will have to repeat the name to everyone.

Next, think about your family's religious and cultural background. Some religions, such as Islam, have distinctive religious names. If you are Muslim, for example, you may want to look at names with specific meanings for your religion. If you are not Muslim but really like the name Mahmud, though, you should at least familiarize yourself with the name's meaning and know that it has cultural significance that your child will not share with others of the same name.

Third, you should pay careful attention to the spelling and pronunciation of your name. If your child has an eccentric name, he or she may not have a problem spelling it to everyone. If you decide to spell Jason as Jaeson, then your child may be unhappy with the constant misspelling. Be sure that you can live with constantly correcting others before you name baby or you could end up with a life of frustration. Here you also should think about geographic pronunciations. Very few Americans pronounce Genvieve in the French pronunciation of the word (Zhan-vee-ev). If you think that you will be able to insist on people using that pronunciation instead of the more American Jen-a-veev, consider the probability of your winning that battle based on where you live.

Another consideration is the gender popularity of a certain name. Even among gender-neutral names, there often is a feeling one way or another whether a child is a boy or girl. Ashley, for example, is a gender neutral name, but there are so few male Ashleys that it could be problematic for your son to have to tell everyone his sex. You may want to consider a gender-neutral name, however, because it will not push people to make assumptions about your child before meeting him or her. Names like Morgan and Avery are good, solid choices that are used fairly equally for both sexes.

Finally, think about the nicknames associated with a longer name. If you love Katherine but hate Katie, then you probably want to steer clear of naming your daughter the former. Children will invariably love the nickname their parents despise, and you will have to stand firm even with adults who will automatically shorten your beloved Michael to a less-appealing Mike. Consider all of the possible nicknames associated with your child's first name and decide if they are ones you can tolerate.

These issues are but a few of the thoughts that go into selecting a baby name. This decision is very important, though, so make it carefully!

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