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How to Choose Baby Names Using Family Names

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With a seemingly endless list of names from which to choose, deciding on just the right name to give your newborn can be daunting. If you are intent on naming your baby after a member of your family, you are spared the task of wading through books filled with possibilities even as you face the challenge of selecting a combination that will prove meaningful to you, the child and your relatives. You still have many options, including the first name of a living or recently departed family member, a variation or duplication of your own name, or a last name as a first name.

Create Guidelines

Work with your partner to set guidelines for what you will and won't accept, suggests the website BabyCenter. This may mean deciding which side of the family you want to choose the name from, whether a combination that honors two different relatives is acceptable or if you want to use either first names or last names exclusively. Setting guidelines gives you a jumping off point to start your list of potential candidates.

Push Off the Pressure

If you let your relatives know that you're planning to use a family name, you may suddenly find yourself inundated with aunts, uncles and grandparents who want you to use their names. While it's perfectly acceptable for family members to offer suggestions, politely thank them for their ideas and don't make any promises. For example, if your grandmother is absolutely desperate for you to use her mother's name but you can't stand the sound of it, don't say that you will just to pacify her. Be clear that you are still thinking about it and make your own decision. If you have concerns about relatives coming forward to pressure you, don't tell anyone that you plan to use a family name.

Pick From the Past

Celebrate your heritage by looking back in the history of your family for your baby's name. Ask other relatives about names of ancestors. If they can't give you answers, search marriage records or immigration documents online. The Eastern Kentucky University library system recommends learning about basic genealogy tips through a book such as "First Steps in Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide to Researching Your Family History," by Desmond Walls Allen, or "Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy," by Christine Rose and Kay Germain Ingall. For example, if your family is from Scotland, consider your great-great Grandfather Alastair as an option, or turn the maiden name of your great-great grandmother into a first name.

Mix and Match

Even when the focus is on only the first name, you can still select a name that honors two family members. For example, if your mother's name is Carol and your mother-in-law's name is Ashley, you can combine the first syllable of Carol with the last syllable of Ashley to form "Carley." You may also combine the middle names of two relatives to form a hyphenated middle name.

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