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7 Tricks for Preventing Baby Name Theft

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Giving your baby a good name is as important to her future as the number of months she breastfeeds and whether she gets a spot in the Reggio Emilia preschool. It can also be just as competitive. The fetal world is full of baby-name stealers out to undermine the family brand you've created from your own effortless originality. You owe it to your baby, currently gestating or still just imaginary, to guard against others who want to rob your family of its very essence and the twee names only you thought to give your son or daughter. Follow these 7 steps and baby Roscoe won't even need a last name.

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1. Get pregnant first.

Your greatest enemies are your friends. You share the same tastes in literature, TV and music, and it's a race to see who gets to sneak that "h" into a baby Thom's name first.

2. Got a good one? Don't share it.

When a drunken couples' night turns to a "names we like" discussion, don't bring your A-game to the table. Share the quirky/throwback names you've already ruled out (Chester, Maud). But keep your backups close (Freddie, Martha) and your first-picks closer (Earl, Edie).

3. Still have a good one? Still don't share it.

Baby-naming is not the time for honesty.

It's a girl! So what would you have named the boy? Shhhh. If you think you might have more kids, this is not the time to reveal the perfect boy name. Unless you want to invite bitterness and disappointment into your life every time Atticus shows up for a playdate, memorize and destroy the names list until the only beings left for you to name have paws and pant when it's hot.

4. Play dirty.

Baby naming is not the time for honesty. You've been dreaming of baby Sabra since college, yet your best friend calls with big news and the chance to name her daughter ... Sabra? Tell her it sounds like a Chrysler model. Change your mind when it's your turn.

5. Check baby name sites obsessively.

Look for trends and avoid what's on the rise. Use the Baby Name Wizard Name Voyager tool. Especially focus on the far left side of the graph, where you find names from the 1880s. If you avoid Mary and John, you can't go wrong. Once you find the names you love, repeat rule number 2.

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6. Play hardball.

Gather up all the names you like and claim them at the next Thanksgiving/reunion/girls-night-out/Facebook status update. It takes some serious balls to go after names you have openly claimed. Of course, you've always thought your sister-in-law had a pretty big pair ...

7. Screw it!

You know you had it first—so fill out the birth certificate already. Don't walk away from a name you love just because some lesser being stole your idea. Your kid's there for a lifetime. But what are the chances you'll know the name thieves beyond playgroup or the next round of promotions? Even if the relationship lasts for years, your kid totally makes a cuter Stella.

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