Thumbing through your baby-name book, checking out your family tree or clicking around on a baby-naming website are all guaranteed to dig up some amazing baby names—but will they work for your baby? Here are six simple rules to help you whittle down your baby-name list to the ones that may really stick.
1. The Holler-It-Out-the-Door Test
One tried-and-true baby naming test can be considered a gold standard: If you feel comfortable hollering it out your back door (or across the living room), then this name may be a keeper. Don't forget to pair it with his middle name as well, since middle names always up the "mom means business" factor when a child is being summoned. Also, plan to ignore your neighbors if you do shout it out your door, but don't let them stop you. It's a science experiment, people!
You've decided on a first and middle name. Now, string the initials together with your last name and see what it spells out. If you're lucky, it'll be a nonsense "word" like MDB. If you're unlucky, you'll spell out a word like "PEE" or "COW." If you think your kid won't mind her initials spelling out "APE," then by all means go for it, but as it may be a source for teasing, then you may want to consider a different first or middle name for your wee one.
3. The Monogram Test
This is exactly like the initials test, except it's not, because monograms use a different letter order. So say your baby's name might be Samantha Claire Akins, her monogram will read out SAC instead of standard initials, which will spell SCA—and do you think she'll want towels monogrammed SAC? Probably not. Monogramming, then, can lead to unfortunate letter combos that can make your child a target of bullying if she ever wants to get anything monogrammed. So if you're thinking about naming your baby Dolores Gertrude and your last name is Owens, pick another name or two.
4. The Email Test
Far into the future, your child may get a position at a company who assigns email addresses based on first and last names. Some prefer the first name-last name format, but others go for first initial-last name, or some other combo. This means that if you name your son Patrick and your last name is Enis, he may wind up with an email that looks like "firstname.lastname@example.org," which I can tell you he definitely won't want.
Above all, you're the one responsible for picking out the perfect name for your baby.
5. The Sibling Test
Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, you should definitely consider your kid's siblings, present or future. You've always adored the names Jackson and Jillian, for example, but will your kids really like being known as Jack and Jill? Probably not. You also may reconsider names that are grouped together in popular culture like Amy and Rory, Jax and Tara, Luke and Leia, Stan and Kenny, Addison and Lexie, etc.—but then again, this may make the names more appealing to you, so use your own judgement.
Chances are, you've had a bad experience with a person or two throughout the course of your lifetime. Even if you think you may get over the association because you really, really love their name, you probably shouldn't bestow your ex-boyfriend's moniker upon your son, or your biggest high school rival's name upon your daughter. You should also consider your partner's input, but as far as the grandma-to-be? She can keep those opinions to herself. Please.
Above all, you're the one responsible for picking out the perfect name for your baby. Keep in mind that most names can be manipulated by a clever bully, but if you avoid the most obvious references and unfortunate choices (and can stand the sound of yourself shouting it into the wind), then you may have a solid name for your newborn.