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10 Things parents should know about baby names

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

There's a right way and a wrong way to pick a baby name

Choosing a baby name is one of the most delightful preparations you can make for your pending arrival. But you only get one shot at this, so make sure you're going about the naming process the right way. We've listed 10 things you should know before you get started.
  1. It's possible to be too trendy. Have you ever looked back at trendy hairstyles or fashion and thought, "What were we thinking?" What's popular now, even among baby names, may feel terribly dated later. Besides, do you really want your daughter to be one of seven Avas in her class?
  2. Spelling matters. So you've come up with a really clever spelling for a traditional name (Lynnsae for Lindsay or Mykehill for Michael, for example). It may set your child apart from others, but it might also saddle him with a lifetime of having to correct people who misspell and mispronounce it.
  3. Confusing names are, well, confusing. Building on the spelling rule above… if you find yourself explaining the brilliance behind your baby name choice, then perhaps you should rethink it. How many people figured out on their own that the name La-A is actually pronounced La-dash-a?
  4. Family names can be a burden. Naming a son after his father is a wonderful idea — just keep in mind the potential problems he may face. Others may refer to your child as Junior or "Little So-and-so." Furthermore, as your child grows, he'll have to make an extra effort to avoid credit, legal and tax confusion resulting from sharing his name with Dad (and Grandpa and Great-grandpa).
  5. Names shouldn't rhyme with teasing words. Playground bullies are really good at coming up with name-rhyming taunts, so try not to give them more ammunition. Steer clear of names that rhyme with teasing words like poop, snot or butt.
  6. Initials matter. Sally Ann Dixon is S. A. D. Peter Ignatius Graham is a P. I. G. You get the idea.
  7. Gender-neutral names are all the rage, but... giving a unisex name to your baby may result in your having to explain to inquisitive strangers that, "No, James is a girl" or, "No, Kim is a boy."
  8. Pop culture isn't the best influence. If you name your kid Khloe, Jinger or Honey, folks are bound to assume that you're a reality TV junkie. Consider whether or not there are current books, films or music acts that may be associated with your name, and determine whether that association is a deal breaker.
  9. Others will have an opinion. Like it or not, people will have something to say about your baby's name. They may gush over it, or roll their eyes or even offer some "better" suggestions. If you're happy with your choice, then it doesn't matter what anyone else says — but they will say it.
  10. It doesn't have to be permanent. If, for whatever reason, you're unhappy with the name you put on your child's birth certificate, you can take legal steps to change it. Click here to find out how.

More on baby names

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Looking back a century: Top baby names from 1914
Baby names that are unique but not weird

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