“Veto!” was the most commonly heard word in our house when my husband and I were trying to choose a name for our baby. We were each given veto power and said it so much that we joked about using it as a name! As gleefully as we vetoed each other’s ideas, I knew that naming our baby was a serious matter.
How to Choose the Perfect Name
Ask questions. Your child will use this name everyday of his or her life! Whether your child grows up to be a teacher, a doctor, or an astronaut, this name will be the first thing people know about him or her, so make it count. Local mom Helen S. urges other parents to ask, “Will they be taken seriously as working adults with the name?”
Follow Louisiana Laws. In the state of Louisiana, children with married parents take the last name of the father, though if both parents agree, the child may take the maiden name of the mother. Some states have strict rules about naming children and even ban the use of some names such as Adolf Hitler or Jesus Christ. Other states ban the use of special characters (such as spelling Tim as T!m) and numbers
In Louisiana, you cannot name your child an obscenity or use diacritical marks. According to the Louisiana Department of Health website, “If the child was not named at birth, an Affidavit for Correction of Given Names can be used to give the child a first and middle name before the child reaches the age of 12. Both parents listed on the birth certificate must sign the affidavit in the presence of a licensed notary. This form cannot be used to change a child’s last name”
Feel pressured. One mom shares that she and her in-laws left the hospital not speaking to one another after the birth of her third child. The in-laws were insistent about one particular family name being used. In the end, the mother used the in-laws’ name, but wasn’t happy about it.
Ignore initials. Write out your child’s future initials. You may want to avoid certain acronyms or words! A friend once wanted to name her daughter Amalie Stella Smith. Being in the South, the future mom planned to monogram everything. She promptly changed the middle name to avoid the embarrassing initials.
Choose names that you associate with others. I have lots of friends who are teachers. While these ladies have no idea about the perfect name, they absolutely avoid names of past students who gave them trouble. “Because I was working at a school at the time, it cut out a ton of options because I didn’t want an association to the name,” shares Stacey H. “I wanted a name that wasn’t common but not unusual or hard to spell. Both kids were named the day after they were born because it was important for us to see them first.”
Make promises you can’t keep. To ease the blow of her son’s upset at having a baby sister, Chantel P. promised her son that he could name his little sister. As it turns out, Rosie Kitty Dog was not really such a great name choice. His next choice was also vetoed, Batman Super Kitty.
Things to Consider
The Nickname Game. Laura H. shares, “We didn’t want anything that could be shortened to a nickname.” If you hate nicknames, you might want to help others avoid the temptation by using a name that isn’t easily shortened. If you are going to use a nickname anyway, consider using the nickname as a name. Our youngest is Kate, not Katherine or Kathleen, just Kate.
A Rhyme Crime. “Rule number one: the name needs to be something that can’t easily be made fun of,” shares Laura R. I remember doing this test when I was pregnant, too! My husband or I would say a name and the other would think of any words that rhyme that could be used to make fun of our kid.
Letter Love. People feel very strongly about the first initial of their child. Jessica B. shares her practical take on this trend, “After Amaly, we looked for other A names we liked because I was being thrifty and wanted to reuse all of the things I had monogrammed.” While some parents seek out names all beginning with the same letter for all of their children, some parents seek to avoid certain letters. Mom Laura H adds, “It might be weird, but I didn’t want it to start with a B or C. My side of the family is all Bs or Cs.”
Other parents have chosen a different kind of letter inspiration. “My husband named all the kids in ABC order: Adrian, Bethany, Claire, and Dresden,” shares Alice H.
Divine Intervention. Some families look to the Bible for their name inspiration. Teresa M. shares, “I wanted Biblical names for both of my children.” Whether the name is a person from the Bible you admire, or from more recent religious history, your faith can be a good source.
Cherise K. adds, “Since we are Catholic, we made sure that at least one of their names was a Saint’s name that we admired.”
Dad, John W. shares this helpful hint, “My brothers and I ended up with names of Saints. When I was in my 30s, I asked my mother why she named me John. She couldn’t remember. I suggested a connection to John the Baptist, or perhaps my Uncle John, or even the mailman, but she still had no idea. So, be sure to write down the how and why of your name inspiration.” Family Traditions
We looked on every branch of our family trees to find a nice family name for our daughters. We finally decided on a couple of middle names, Emma and Rene. Grandparents can be a good source of family names. Trace back the family trees for inspiration. Brittany B. shares, “All of my girls are named after family members of importance. Each one has a story of how or after who their name was chosen. I love telling how I got each of them.”
Maiden names are also a popular name choice. Tiffany P. chose maiden names so that the name would continue on in her family.
Pop Culture. Many people find name inspiration from pop culture including musical artists and characters from TV shows, movies, or books. Mom Brittany R. laughs as she shares, “Lorelai was chosen because we wanted another ‘L’ name. My husband suggested it because I’m a Gilmore Girls fan!”
Deeper Meaning. “First, we have to like how the name sounds to the ear,” shares mom Erin K. “Then, the name must have a powerful meaning. Our oldest girl’s name means dreamer or peace. The middle girl’s name means devoted to God, by grace. The youngest girl’s names means courageous, God is my might. Our son’s name means small, yet fierce, and he is fierce for sure.”
Inspiration Everywhere. Be open to finding the perfect name anywhere, even in the strangest of places. One mom read the name Ella on a street sign and found it beautiful. Joyce E. shares, “Can’t remember how I came up with her first name, but while I was still bowling in my early pregnancy, I looked up at the scoreboard next to me, and a bowler’s name was LaRae. I thought it was so unique. So that became her middle name.” Another mom found her baby’s name in the program at a funeral.
“I threw up several times a day, every single day, until she was born. I told my dad I was naming her whatever the hell I wanted!” – Sarah G.