The name is the first gift you give to your child and it is one which will stay with her throughout her life and even afterwards. So, you need to devote serious thoughts to the names that you pick out for your child. Babies are often named following a family scheme or depending on the zodiac sign or rhyming with an elder sibling or simply depending on what both the parents can agree upon. It is best if you do some research before your baby is born and shortlist some names so that you are ready and prepared when the time comes to name your child.

As soon as your baby is born, you will have to give her a name for legal purposes. In certain cultures like among the Hindus, the name is given at a ceremony around 6 months of age called Namkaran. But, even if the religious ceremony is later, you will need to name the baby quickly so that she learns to gradually recognize her name and respond to it.

Naming your baby is a pleasurable job, but it is by no means simple. There are a number of factors to keep in mind and both you and your partner need to arrive at an agreement regarding the names. The stress is obviously more when there is more than one baby to consider.

Personal and historical traditions of naming

Does your family have a naming tradition? For example, certain families follow a scheme like every name starting with 'A'. Of course, you need not adhere to this tradition, but this is a decision you need to take early. Sometimes, there is the tradition of naming a child after one of his ancestors or a favorite member of the family.

In some cases, a family may have tradition of naming a child after historical characters. However, you should remember that choosing such a name often imposes a huge amount of expectation on your child, simply because of his name. Know about famous baby naming traditions.

Numerology and astrology of naming

One of the most popular ways of choosing baby names is according to numerology or astrology. If you feel a particular number is lucky for you, you may want to name your baby accordingly. Also, you will know the approximate date of birth of your child. You may choose a few names which are suitable to babies born on those few days according to numerology. When the baby is finally born, you can give her the name for that day which you had previously shortlisted. You can read up on numerology while some parents even consult experts to decide their lucky names.

Naming the baby according to the zodiac sign is a common custom in many cultures. Again, since approximate birth time is known, you can narrow down the selection of names according to the zodiac sign. Take care that the name reflects the personality and characteristics of that zodiac sign and not be too literal. For example, a child with the zodiac sign of Pisces should not be named fish. Similarly, there is also the tradition of naming a baby according to her birth star.

Short and simple versus long names

Parents also need to decide whether they are going for short and simple names or for long traditional names. Short names are always popular because they are easy to use and the baby can get used to it quite fast. On the other hand, long names are most traditional and there may be family traditions where long names are given to the babies. Long names are often ornamental with beautiful meanings, but they are almost always shortened for daily use. In that case, you will have to keep in mind that the name cannot be transformed into an unfortunate nickname.
Short names are smart while long names are elegant and formal. The choice is yours.

Mythological names

Naming a child after a mythological character is another common trend. Most often, the name connects the child to the exceptional character of the mythological person. Similarly, there are certain characters who may have been said to have led a sad or less than exemplary life and such names are generally avoided. Be sure to research the meaning and connotation of the name before you bestow it on your child.

Popular names

Some baby names have always been more popular than others and you may choose one of these for your child. They are easy to remember and people can also recognize them easily. Parents also consider names of celebrities for their child, but such naming can put pressure on the child by building unreasonable expectations.

Ethnic names

Certain names are typical of particular ethnic or religious group. There are advantages and disadvantages of giving such names to your child. It will foster a sense of identity and pride in her background, but she may have to end up facing discrimination or unfair labeling throughout her life because of her name.

Naming your twins

Thinking up names for more than one baby can be quite a strenuous affair. However, here are a few tips to help you choose names for your twins:

  • Many people follow some pattern while naming their twins. These are:
    • Starting with same letter. E.g.: Ethan and Evan
    • Using anagrams. E.g.: Amy and May
    • Reversing names. E.g.: Nadia and Aidan
    • Rhyming names. E.g.: Philip and Phyllis
    • Names with same meaning. E.g.: Lucy and Helen – both meaning light
  • However, try to avoid giving very similar names to twins. For example, babies may find it difficult to separate between the rhyming names and their response will be affected.
  • It is best to keep in mind the personality traits of the children. If you cannot discern between them, avoid giving them very similar names.
  • Many parents give completely different and unrelated names to their twins. This actually emphasizes their individuality and helps their personalities to develop unfettered by any expectations.

Some dos and don'ts of choosing baby names

Here are a few tips to help you understand what you should and should not do while choosing baby names:

Dos:

  1. Consult your partner. Whether you are going to pick a family name, a long name, a short name, a mythological name or a popular name – it should be clearly discussed between you two. Cross out any name which one of you cannot like.
  2. Check out how well the name flows with the surname. You do not want to saddle your child with a name that is difficult to read and write.
  3. Do your research. You do not want to agree on a name and then find out that it has a negative connotation attached to it.
  4. Run the list of your names by someone close to you. A close friend or sister is a good choice. They know both you and your partner and will be able to give a candid opinion whether the name suits a child of yours.
  5. Be sure to check the meaning of the name. Some names may sound great but the meaning may not be so good.
  6. Try for names where the spelling and pronunciation are the same. Otherwise, your child will spend a lifetime correcting everyone.
  7. Consider if the name will age well. Your baby will not remain a baby forever. She may become a CEO or a political leader. Do you really want her to be called Fifi while running a multinational company?

Don'ts:

  1. Do not gift your child with unfortunate initials. Before you call your daughter Allison Sarah Smith, consider the initial. How can she ever monogram it on her backpack?
  2. Most names are shortened to nicknames. So, do not choose a name where the nickname does not go well with the surname.
  3. Do not choose such names for siblings which do not sound well. Calling Sam and Ella together will remind you of an infectious disease!
  4. Do not give names that have unsavory reputation. Obviously you are not going to name your child after a porn star or a famous dictator.
  5. Avoid giving near identical names to siblings as this hampers the growth of their individual personality.

The fact is that, no matter how careful you are in naming your child, there can always be funny nicknames made out of it or someone can dig up an obscure negative meaning. So, even after considering all the above factors, you should go with a name that you like and which appeals to you.