Baby Names: How Do Parents Choose

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Baby Names - How Do Parents Choose?

If you or your partner is expecting a baby, you'll have many preparations to make, including the choice of a name.  Picking a name may sound easy, but it can often prove a baffling conundrum for parents, especially with the ever-widening range in circulation. Some people simplify the search by looking for names of a certain type or style, such as short, meaningful, fashionable or traditional. Here are some of the most popular categories. They may help you to choose your baby's name.

The Association of a Name

Some parents choose a name for its association with something they like. This might be a flower, as in the name Rose or Iris, or a time of year, as in the popular names Summer, Autumn and April. Other popular associations include jewels, colors, moods and places. Names reflecting abstract ideas, such as Destiny, Faith, Hope and Grace, are also a draw.

Naming your child after someone you love or respect has always been a popular option. This might be your partner or a close relative or friend. If someone dear to you has died, their name could be chosen as a way of commemorating them.

Many names are derived from words or phrases, some dating back to ancient times, cultures and languages. In most cases, obscurer meanings can be identified with the help of reference books and relevant websites. Some parents prefer to pick a word and its meaning for themselves, creating a new name. Actor Jason Lee has a son named Pilot Inspektor. Singer-songwriter Bob Geldolf named his late daughter Peaches, though it is said she did not like the name when she grew up. It is important to consider how your child may feel about his name in the future. In the 19th century there was a weird fashion among parents for inventing cruel names, such as Friendless and One Too Many. It's doubtful that their children shared their quirky humor.

The Popularity of a Name

Many parents choose a trending name, or one that's popular in their locality. The fact that everyone else is raving about a name can be seen a recommendation. If you're unsure how to choose, or stuck for ideas, it may be helpful to consider what your friends and neighbors are calling their babies. Some parents are also concerned to give their child a modern or fashionable name. The most popular names in the US in 2014 included Sophia, Emma, Jackson and Aiden, and further listings can be found online.

The Traditional Element of a Name

Traditional names, such as John, David and Robert for boys and Mary, Catherine and Elizabeth for girls, roll through the generations, and are as popular now as ever before. Established, antiquated names, to be found in old books, records and family histories, have a comfortable, familiar ring for many people. 

The Sound and Enunciation of a Name

When considering a name, it's natural to say it over to yourself to hear how it sounds. For some parents, sound is key. They may be listening out for a soft lilt, as in Hugh, Lawrence, Fiona or Lavinia perhaps, or crispness and punch, as in Zara, Tess, Brett or Max.

Does the name roll off the tongue? That's a crucial question for many parents. A foreign name, for instance, may be difficult for you and your family to pronounce, while being simple for native speakers. Welsh names are notoriously difficult to pronounce for anyone but Welsh speakers. Llewellyn, Maredudd and Gwenfrewi, for example, may sound great on Welsh lips, but prove impractical for non-speakers of the language.

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The Look of a Name

The appearance of a name in print or handwriting is the deciding factor for some moms or dads. When its letters are written down or printed out, you can judge whether it's pleasing to the eye. The sight may help you envisage the name on your child's future certificates, and as his signature. Features such as elegance and neatness may be put to the test here. A name with symmetrical spelling, such as Hannah or Anna, would look neat on the page, especially all in upper or lower case letters. A name with a balance of up and down stems, such as Jeremy or Lucy, may also appeal.

The Grandeur or Simplicity of a Name

A short, simple name, like Jack, Tom, Kate or Ruth, is a must for some parents. For others, a long, flowing one, such as Montgomery, Jeremiah, Cordelia or Seraphima, is desirable. The first type will be more convenient for use, while the second may serve the child as an adornment. A short name will balance well with a long surname, and vice versa. Some parents link the two together. One couple, with the surname Castle, named their daughter Windsor to make the full name Windsor Castle -- as in one of the homes of the British royal family.

The Compatibility of Names for Twins or More

When choosing names for twins, a popular option is to pick ones that fit well together. They might share an initial, such as the "S" in Sam and Sophie, or the last letter, such as the "Y" in Harry and Milly. But if you're choosing for twins, check the names don't combine to make a different one, or a phrase you might not want. One couple named their twins Sam and Ella before realizing that, when said together, they sounded like the deadly bacteria, salmonella. 

Choosing a name for your baby is a personal matter. Other people may express their likes and dislikes, but the decision lies with you, the parents. Finding your ideal name can be tricky, but finding one your partner likes too may be even trickier.  If you can't agree, you each can pick a name. When your baby grows up, he'll have a choice too. Chances are he'll use a nickname, anyway.

About the author: Seth Gowdy is the Sales Manager for Pivot Insurance and holds multiple insurance and securities' licenses. He has been part of the financial services industry for nearly 20 years. In his free time he enjoys being outdoors fishing, hiking, and geocaching with his wife and two children. Seth most enjoys helping clients with Pivot’s customized process and needs' calculators. You can reach Seth at 1-800-651-1953 or

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