Our names are an important part of our entire lives. The names we choose for our children will shape a part of their identity. They’ll be one of the first things people know about them, and it’s how they think of them and remember them.
You want to choose a name that will suit your child well throughout their life and also one that’s meaningful to your family.
Figuring out just what that name is can be a challenge, though.
You might simply start by brainstorming all the possible options. You can search for the most popular names on any given day in a recent calendar year. This gives you a starting point with some ideas of what you like and doesn’t like.
Along with searching for popular names, there are plenty of other ways you can start to choose a meaningful baby name, including the following tips.
6 Tips to Choose a Meaningful Baby Name
1. Don’t Get Too Caught Up In Trends
While it can be fun to do searches for trending and popular names, you don’t want to get caught up in something that’s so trendy that it’s going to quickly look odd rather than unique. You want to consider whether or not the names you’re considering will sound ridiculous in a decade. Will it make your child’s life challenging as far as spelling and pronunciation? Could it lead to teasing?
It’s also best for most families to avoid purposeful misspellings that make otherwise simple names more complicated than they need to be.
There’s research showing unusual names are linked to less positive life outcomes. A study at Marquette University found people with common names were more likely to be hired. Researchers from the University of New York discovered people with names that were easier to pronounce had higher positions.
This doesn’t mean that names from different cultures should be frowned upon—that’s a different story than, for example naming your child Rybekkah versus Rebecca.
2. Consider Family Names
Family names are always a wonderful place to start to at least get inspiration when it comes to naming a baby.
You might not even be aware of some of the names of previous generations that could be beautiful in the modern day. Maybe your parents will have some old records you can browse to see if any names stand out. That’s always a special thing—to choose a name that you think is lovely but also one that has significance to your family or your partner’s family.
3. Look Up Meanings
When you’re choosing a name, you want to make sure that you verify what it means. Many names have meanings most of us aren’t aware of but perhaps wouldn’t want to be associated with our child. At the same time, there might be a name that you aren’t sure about, but when you find out the meaning, you feel like it’s perfect.
4. Think Through the Potential Nicknames
When you’re naming your child, you want to think about any potential nicknames that could arise, even if you don’t want them to.
For example, classmates tend to give kids nicknames, and you want to make sure you’re not setting your child up to be taunted. When you have some contenders in mind, go over them with a friend or family member to make sure there aren’t potential nicknames that could be horrifying you aren’t considering.
5. Choose a Culturally Relevant Name
If you want to give your child a name with a meaning behind it, you might look to your cultural background for inspiration or your partner’s. For example, you might look at traditional Spanish, African-American, or French names if any of these are relevant to your culture.
You can give your child a beautifully unique name that’s a reflection of who they are and where they’re from, so it will always have special meaning.
6. Don’t Forget the Middle Name
Finally, when you’re choosing a name for your child, you don’t have to include a middle name, but many families do. When you’re choosing a middle name, it can be a little less stressful.
Middle names can actually be helpful as well. For example, you might have multiple people in the family with the same name if it’s one from the family. The middle name can also be a good way to use a name that maybe you love but don’t feel practical.
If you’re choosing a classic or formal first name, the middle name might be something more quirky, or vice versa.
You’re also giving your child a bit of a safety net for later in life if they’re not a huge fan of their first name.