How to find the best baby name for your bundle of joy
Tips for finding a unique, classic, and timeless name for your tot
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We’ll admit it: We absolutely swooned over the recent baby name reveal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s most recent edition, Lilibet Diana. The newest royal’s moniker is a nod to a childhood nickname of Queen Elizabeth and to Prince Harry’s mother, Lady Diana Spencer. Harry and Meghan have always been the type to ride the crest of the trend wave, and their selection of classic yet out-of-the-box names with a nod to their family tree are undeniably charming.
Whether you love old-school names that have a secure standing on the popularity charts or are looking for that hidden gem from a hundred years ago, classic baby names are a way to make a name feel unique, while also keeping it familiar enough that your kids won’t have to repeat themselves every time a teacher takes attendance.
Here are some tips for finding the best baby name for your bundle of joy.
1. Check out your family tree
There’s something so special about a name that has significant meaning to you and your family. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a nod from Harry’s recent lineage when coming up with a name for Lilibet, but you may want to go back a generation or two to find the perfect name for your baby.
We recommend flipping through old photo albums and hopping on Ancestry family records to get ideas. Maybe there was a particularly cool great aunt or uncle that had a story or history that resonates—even if you don’t find a perfect fit, the process of the search will definitely be fun and possibly enlightening.
2. Look up meanings
You’ve found a beautiful family name that you’re in love with and then you come to find out it means “deformed head,” “lady of sorrows,” or “crooked nose.” That’s what you’d end up with if you named your child Kennedy, Dolores, or Cameron. You may love your child’s name regardless, and just because Emily means “rival” doesn’t necessarily mean that your child will go through life making enemies, but be prepared with a bit of lighthearted humor should someone ask you the meaning.
3. Honor your culture
A name that’s a nod to your heritage is a beautiful way to honor your family history, and it’s fun to do a deep dive into names from your family’s country of origin. Dante and Gianna are popular Italian names. Names like Javier and Marisol are beautiful Spanish names. And French names like Elodie and Luc are an elevated sort of adorable.
4. Think of the nickname
Kids can be cruel; we recommend you and your partner get into the head of a 10-year-old jokester and see what sort of silly nicknames your child’s name might inspire. We also like playing the rhyming game. If the name rhymes with a bodily function, a swear word, or a body part, be ready for your child to wear that name through high school. Maybe it won’t matter to you, but take away the element of surprise if your child comes home upset from school—and maybe be ready to feed your kid some snappy comebacks.
Likewise, think about popular nicknames for the name you picked. If you hate the names Luke or Maddie, you may want to skip Lucas or Madeline. Someone is going to call them that at some point, and it just may stick.
5. Think about the initials
Sometimes the first, middle, and last initials spell something fun like CAT, GOD, or LIT, but I recall an argument over a middle name where, if her dad got her way, my neighbors’ daughter was going to have the initials SOB. Another friend stressed for months over the possibility of her child’s initials spelling out POO, if he was to be named after both grandfathers. We are all for tradition when picking a baby name, but initials that spell out POO really are where we draw the line.
6. Will the name grow with them?
You may find an adorable, classic baby name that you can picture yourself cooing over a sleeping infant, but think about whether your child will want to be called that when they are in their 20s or 30s. Jamie Oliver’s son looks too sweet to be true and his name, Buddy Bear, really is all I want to call my kid, but since I don’t have the societal pull of Jamie Oliver I’ll pick something that looks a little more responsible when sitting at the top of a resume.
7. Consult the books
Now that we’ve given you all of our best advice for baby naming, how about some inspiration? Here are some books that are certain to help you discover the perfect name for your bundle of joy.
100,000+ Baby Names
With over 100,000 baby names to choose from, you are bound to find the perfect name for your baby in these pages. This is the most popular baby name book in North America, and it’s regularly updated to reflect the most popular trends.
The Big Book of 7,000 Unique Baby Names
If you’re looking for a name that’s a little bit different, this title is filled with ideas of off-the-radar names that will feel extra special. This book also places a special focus on meanings and origins—including the cultures and countries where these baby names are most popular.
Inspired Baby Names from Around the World
From the traditional to the trendy, this guide features names from every corner of the globe and gives insight into each name’s cultural, and historical background.
The Baby Name Wizard
Sometimes it feels like the only way to find a name that both parents will agree on is through some sort of sorcery. This book provides just that. This newly updated edition gives full explanations of the meaning and origin of over 6,000 baby names, as well as anecdotes about what makes them special.
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