Baby names: How to choose your baby’s name

Pregnant couple choose baby name

With more baby names on offer than ever before, how do you pick the right name for your baby?

Traditional or modern? Popular or individual? There are so many factors to take into consideration when choosing a name for your newborn, and finding something that you and your partner both love can be fun, frustrating and bewildering at the same time. You might have already had an idea in mind before conceiving or chosen a name upon finding out the sex. In some cases, the eureka moment doesn’t come until you see your little one in the flesh, or you could be one of the many couples still passing names back and forth well after your child has arrived. As with any big decision, it’s often the sheer amount of choice which makes the process so utterly overwhelming.

Why is picking the right name so important?

So much significance is attributed to the name of your child, believes Mark Woods, author of Baby Names 2016. “As well as being the word we will have to answer to and hear more than any other throughout our lives, there’s evidence to suggest the type of name we have can have a big effect on how people view us, too,” he reveals. “One study showed that some teachers mark the same work differently, depending on the name which sits on top of it!” And with almost two thirds of parents associating future success with their child’s name, it’s no wonder we find it difficult making up our minds.

How long do I have to pick a baby name?

Thankfully, time is on your side as legally you have until six weeks after the birth to come up with the perfect gem, and if you have regrets down the line you can still change your baby’s name at a later date. It might not be standard practice, but according to British law you can amend your baby’s birth certificate any time before their first birthday – although the sooner you make that decision the better, as once your baby reaches seven months it’s likely they’ll be responding to their name.

Switching from a name you’ve already chosen might seem like a strange move but surprisingly, one in eight parents admit to having regrets about what they called their children. While most of us would agree it’s a dramatic step to take, a recent study carried out by babycenter.com revealed as many as 10% of parents in the US have considered renaming their child – a phenomenon called ‘baby remorse’. A step too far? It might be worth adopting a nickname or variation on your original choice instead.

READ MORE: Should you find out the gender of your baby?

How to find the perfect baby name

The book

With over 8,000 listings, Baby Names 2016 also offers tons of tips to help you make the right choice.

The app

Check for names while on the go with Babyname. Much like Tinder for names, when you and your partner get a match, it’ll be saved! Swipe away…

The hack

Here’s a trick to narrow down the shortlist inspired by David Bowie’s lyric-writing technique: “Place your favourites in a hat and see how they sound combined when you pull them out randomly,” says Mark.

The game

Make it you and your partner’s goal to meet two or three new people every day when you’re out and about, and you’re bound to find names that spark interest.

The experts

Still struggling? In the US, parents-to-be are willing to shell out thousands for personal advice from baby-name consultancy My Name For Life.

Words: Louise Pyne

READ MORE: These are the most popular unisex baby names


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