Naming Your Baby

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Naming your baby is a hugely exciting time, but it can also be quite daunting. With so many people offering their opinions and a million names to choose from, it can quickly feel like a pressure-test.

Expectant parents will face a barrage of different theories and arguments, detailing which names they should choose and those they should avoid completely. However, there aren’t many suggestions on how to actually go about choosing a name without all of these prejudices being thrown into the mix.

Although celebrities have considerably lowered the bar in recent years, there are a few simple ways to make your search for that special name a lot more enjoyable.

Where do you start?

Start off by each writing a list of names for boys and girls that you have heard before and like. What are the similarities in these names? Do they sound harsh or soft? Are they traditional or modern? Are they nature-related or mythological? Can you see a common letter or sound in them?

Compare with your partner’s list and see which names you enjoy. Let each other know which names you dislike and why. This should help clarify what you and your partner are looking for and will mean you can suggest names that appeal to each other.

Alternatively, you can look up the list of the 100 top names and use that as your starting point. If it’s easier, print off the list and each take a different coloured pen. Put a star by each name you like and get your partner to do the same.

Is there any overlap? Can you see any similarities? Perhaps you both like Irish names like Órlaith and Niamh or maybe Greek names pop up on both your lists like Cassandra and Alexander. Taking what you know, try looking up lists of those names and finding inspiration there.

Family Significance

This is always something worth discussing with your partner. Is there a name that is traditionally given in their family? Do they want to name the baby in honour of a relative? What about your family?

If you want to use a name for these reasons, but it’s not your favourite, then consider having it as a middle name. Equally, if you want to honour someone special but dislike their name, then try looking for names with the same meaning or a slightly different form such as ‘Maria’ instead of ‘Mary’.

Meaning and history

Meaning may not be something that particularly matters to you, but it can have huge significance. For some parents, it’s a way of putting their hopes and dreams for their child into their life in a lasting way. Naming their baby ‘Simon’, which means ‘To be heard’, is a way of portraying their trust that he will grow up with a strong and confident voice.

The history behind the name can also be important for parents. They may love the sound of the name ‘Judas’, but feel that the biblical story of betrayal gives it a sour taste. They may also be put off by the idea of giving a child a name which may sound ironic in certain situations. Does it matter that you might end up shouting ‘Serenity’ down the supermarket aisle while she’s having a hissy fit by the biscuits you wouldn’t buy?

Would it suit you/your partner?

This may sound a strange point, and one that many parents don’t consider, but it can really help. Your child is a merging of genetics and despite being their own person, they are likely to look similar to you, your partner or both of you. Their personality may also carry similar traits to yours, so it can be useful to consider if you or your partner would suit the name.

You might love the name ‘Star’ for your daughter, but if you are both very shy people who like to go unnoticed, then is this a name she’ll enjoy having? How would you feel about being called that name? Equally, if your baby is likely to have red hair, do you want to call them ‘Scarlett’?

The middle name

Two things to consider when choosing a middle name, does it fit with the first name you’ve chosen and how do the names sound together? You can do this the other way round if you’ve chosen a middle name already (perhaps because of family relevance) but are yet to choose a first name.

The sound of the names when put them together is also important. You can hear ‘Amy Mary’ doesn’t have an appealing melody and usually a repetition of sounds or similar sounds at the end of a name makes it feel stilted. Syllables can also contribute to the flow. Make sure you pick a name you love because lots of people end up using their middle name.


For some parents, the popularity of a name can be vital, whether they want one which is on trend or are just looking to avoid them. It’s worth checking out the top 100 names, as if your child’s name is in the top 50 then there’s likely to be a few of them in their school year.

If you choose a name that’s in the top 10, be prepared for them to be perpetually known by a nickname or surname. If you want to check out the rankings for your region and top 100, try or   

Do you like it?

Most important of all is that you like the name you’ve both chosen. Ignore negative comments from others – it can be a good idea to keep it a secret until the birth – and if you’re happy with your choice, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks!