Friday, 13 November 2015

How to choose a name for your baby: 11 rules

Newborn outside Devon Register Office, Newton Abbot
I'll name that baby in...three days.
Your name is a really important part of your identity. Admit it, as soon as someone mentions names like Sharon or Tracy or Wayne of Chardonnay, you immediately stereotype that person.

So naming your child can actually be quite stressful.

For us, it was very stressful because I have stringent criteria and a lot of names fall short. In fact, my criteria are so strict that even some names I really liked couldn't be used because of the stupid rules.

Poor Baby O was a John Doe for a couple of days because we just couldn't agree on his name.

In the end we agreed to disagree, I love his full name (which is on his birth certificate), but hubby prefers the shortened version.

So here are my baby name specifications:

  1. No androgynous names. So no names that could be used for either gender, such as Charlie or Sam. This was a shame as I quite liked the name Charlotte.
  2. No names that were in the Top 10. I was one of three girls in my class called Jo. It was annoying and often downright confusing when anyone shouted our name and we all turned around.
  3. No names that had been used by any of our relations or anyone in our circle of friends. I would hate to be thought of as a copycat and, as in rule number 2, it would be annoying at get togethers if we called our child's name and the other child came running. This rule did have an exception though: each of our children has two middle names and these are family names (one from each side). But this doesn't count as copying, it is classed as continuing a family tradition. This means that my youngest son's middle name has ended up being the same as my nephew's first name. But that's OK and my nephew is proud that his name was used. And most importantly, we're not likely to be shouting out Baby O's middle name in a restaurant and get a confused nephew wondering why we're shouting at him.
  4. No place names, which ruled out Sydney, Sienna and my particular favourite – Florence.
  5. No names of flowers, trees or objects. This meant that names like Rose, Ivy, River and Topaz were eliminated.
  6. No 'weird' names. You know, like Chardonnay or Hurricane.
  7. Then of course, we had the difficulty of our personal preferences, based on people we may have known and perhaps disliked. This also includes preconceived stereotypes about a particular name, such as Tarquin.
  8. None of our names could start with the same initial. I knew a family where all the names (including the mum and dad) began with a J. Let's just say that one of the offspring wasn't too impressed when his dad 'accidentally' opened his bank statement after his first term at university.
  9. None of our names could end in an 'ee' sound as that would have sounded odd with our surname.
  10. Occasionally, we came up with a name that we both liked, but then a tragic news story would emerge that meant the name developed a slightly different meaning to us.
  11. Meaning is very important to me. So once I found a name, I had to check the meaning and a couple of names were ditched after I discovered the origin and decided it was either too boring or not the sort of thing I wanted my child's name to represent.
So we had to come up with a name that wasn't too popular, but wasn't too 'out there' either.

Here are some names from my shortlists including a few that got vetoed (just in case anybody is looking for inspiration):
  • Gilbert
  • Sebastian
  • Laurence
  • Noah
  • Solomon
  • Madeline
  • Meredith
  • Juliet
  • Jemima
  • Charlotte (Lottie)
  • Isabelle
  • Gabriella
  • Amelia
Despite all our rules, we still received unsolicited opinions on our chosen names and certain people weren't keen at all. My favourite comment was: "You can't call him that, it's an old man's name".

But I firmly believe that whether you decide what you will call your baby before or after it is born, in most cases it will grow into or adapt its name to suit its personality.

And if it all goes wrong, there's always Deed Poll.

What criteria did you use when choosing your children's names? 


  1. We just chose names we liked. So for child number one we had Ben or Charlie for a boy (we discounted a few names that we liked just because we didn't like how they were shortened in Scotland where we lived at the time. We liked James but didn't like Jimmy, we liked Thomas but didn't like Tam etc), for a girl we had Rosie and Jasmine (because the Jasmine flowers when we trekked in the Himalayas had been so glorious). Once baby was born, and a boy, we said "is he a Charlie or a Ben?" and chose. When baby number 2 was born we had discounted Ben, and settled on Robin for a boy, girls names were still Rosie, Jasmine and now Isobel. A few days before the birth we decided which girl's name we preferred, and that's what we used!

  2. Sometimes simplicity is best. I think we were rather overwhelmed by the choice!