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What I Thought About Before Naming My Baby

Choosing a name is one of the most difficult and argument-inducing aspects of having a baby. Thankfully, my husband and I have similar tastes when it came to names. Emphasis on “similar,” which is not the same as “just let me name our children.” My husband suggested some names to which I responded something like, “Ew, gross,” and I suggested some names to which he responded so British-ly and more maturely with a, “Next, please.” I mean, I could compromise on some things to find a name on which we could both agree, but there was definitely a list of things I took into account when going through the naming process. Here are some of them.

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1. Will the name sound weird on a baby?

There are names that, to me, sound like they are just for people in adult form. Names that make you think they were born full-grown adults. And the tough thing is that some of these names are fantastic names. Nice, strong names that people that I know wear well. Names that I would love for my son or daughter to have ... when they are adults. But I refuse to believe that these people that I know with these names were ever babies. I’m convinced that these “grown-up” name bearers were born ready to take the SATs. Ready to shave. Ready to vote. As such, I avoided names like Gary and Bruce. Names like Joan and Thelma. Gary has ALWAYS had facial hair and Joan has always loved chardonnay.

2. Conversely, will the name be weird for an adult?

I also didn’t want to name my son or daughter something that I felt I couldn’t see him or her wearing as an adult. Names that don’t grow up. Names that may be a little too cutesy for an architect or for someone wearing scrubs or a lab coat. Essentially, I didn’t want to name my child something that I also may name my Bichon Frisé or my teacup poodle. Judge Fifi Taylor or Dr. Timmy Malone might do some kick-ass work, but they just sound unqualified.

3. What acronym do the initials form?

Sometimes the first, middle and last name really flows, but make sure you consider the initials of all three names together. Stella Tallulah Davies is beautiful, until the monogrammed crib quilt reads, in big, Garamond font, STD. And Andrew Sean Simpson sounds like a strong name until you receive a monogrammed Tiffany rattle with a big “ASS” across the front of it. Yeah, stay away from any three name combo that forms names that any 10-year-old kid (which includes myself) would laugh at—SAC, TIT, FAT, NUB.

If a friend of yours who is a stripper has this name—then, no.

4. Does it rhyme or repeat?

In other words, no Mavis Davies or Davy Davies.

5. Would my Japanese relatives be able to comfortably pronounce it?

Native Japanese speakers have a difficult time pronouncing the “L” sound because the "L" does not exist in the Japanese language. In addition, the Japanese pronounce the “R” differently than the English "R." When my mom and dad were naming me, my grandfather actually asked that they not name me Valerie, as it was a nightmare to pronounce. No one in our family will ever be named Valerie.

6. What will the nickname version of it be?

As much as you reinforce your stance that certain nicknames are not allowed for your child, it’s rare that all will abide. Especially at school. Don’t name your son Richard, a nice, common name, if you can’t face him being called Dick. Snicker, snicker. (That was me snickering.)

7. Is it a stripper name?

If a stripper would probably have this name or if a friend of yours who is a stripper has this name—then, no.

8. Will we be able to find keychains or mini souvenir license plates with this name on it?

This one is obvious.

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9. Does it go well with the last name?

Does the name, on its own, sound great, but when paired with the last name, will it make your kid the butt of all jokes? This is mostly a caution to those with surnames that are commonly used as nouns in the English language. My mother had a friend whose last name was Furniss. And as much as she loved the name Cole, it just wouldn’t have been right. Thankfully, this wasn’t a concern of mine, as my married surname isn’t as susceptible to this problem as names like, say West (North) or Butt (Ima).

If you think this list is weird, you should see the list of things I considered when choosing my ob-gyn. (It’s essentially the same list.)

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