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There’s not long to go now until you meet your baby for the first time. And while you’ve probably picked the pram and the nursery colours, there’s one thing you might still be undecided about: your chosen baby name.
In fact, you’ve probably got lists scattered around the house, on your phone, and definitely running around your head, of names that you love. So how do you pick the perfect one, which not only works for you and your partner, but will also suit your baby for a whole lifetime?
Don’t worry, it is possible!
Do you want to turn your long-list into a shortlist? Your first step is to think about the conscious – and subconscious – feelings you have about each name.
Take a piece of paper and write one of your possible baby names in the middle of it. Then scribble down all your thoughts around that name, however silly they may seem. Who does the name make you think of: a figure from history, a celebrity, a character from a film, an annoying colleague, or someone you went to school with?
Names can also evoke subconscious thoughts about what a particular person is like. So they may determine not only what people call your child, but also what they think about her, and how they treat her. Consider how the name makes you feel. Does it make you think of someone who is successful, motivated and happy? Or perhaps someone who is a joker or a bit silly?
This exercise can uncover surprising associations, both positive and negative, that you might not even have realised you had. It’s then up to you whether all these feelings associated with a name mean it moves to the shortlist or gets crossed off the list for good.
Is the perfect name for your child the same one that thousands of other parents have picked out as well? How popular a name is can work both ways: some mums are reassured by popularity – after all, it’s because the name is great! But if you’re after a name that’s more unusual, it could be a deal-breaker for you.
Either way, it’s a good idea to go through the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages lists to see what’s topped the baby names for the past few years. Oliver and Charlotte were at the top of the list in 2016, so while both are gorgeous names, you’re pretty much guaranteed there’ll be a few in your child’s class as he or she is growing up.
Want to know if the names you’ve chosen will get more or less popular in the next 25 years? You’ll find a tool that predicts a name’s performance in the popularity stakes here.
The names George and Charlotte have taken a popular turn for obvious reasons, but the name Emily has been in the top 10 for 24 years, while Michael has been a favourite for an incredible 72 years.
You’ve spent months talking to your bump, so it’s natural to think about what she’ll be like when she arrives. But what about when she’s all grown up?
Psychologists think that the name you give her could play a part in her career choice. Dr Brett Pelham, an analyst for statistics firm Gallup, says people have a tendency to follow professions that sound like their names, so if you call your daughter Laura, she is more likely to become a lawyer. And dentists are often called, you guessed it, Dennis.
Turns out, we’re unconsciously attracted to things that remind us of ourselves – when we see a fragment of our name, it creates a positive association. It’s fun to think about which careers might match the names on your long-list – and cross off any that are definite no-nos!
While you’re considering the future, think too about whether your favourite names would suit an adult. Go online and look on LinkedIn to see if there are any other people with the same first name, and what careers they are in.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West chose unique names for their daughter North and son Saint.
Chances are, some of the names on your list won’t be that traditional – Thor and Atlas are predicted to be popular this year. So it’s a good idea to test them on people to get a feel for the reactions your child will face every time she says her name.
Make a dinner reservation or book a taxi using one of the names on your list – if the person on the end of the phone asks you to repeat it endlessly, you might want to rethink whether you want your child to face this every time she introduces herself.
Now all these tests should have helped you eliminate some of the names from your long-list, so you’re ready to compile a shortlist. But before you ditch that original list with lots of crossed-out names, wait a moment. Are there any names on there that you’re really sad to let go? Because at the end of the day, what matters most is that you love the name.
Add those to your shortlist too, and write a fresh copy for your partner. Separately, circle the names that you each have an emotional reaction to: when you read them, you feel a physical pang of longing to meet your baby. Hopefully there will be one or two that you both love.
Still not in agreeance? Add a compromise!
*If you and your partner have different ideas about what makes a good name, you’re not alone: 75 per cent of parents-to-be disagree on what to call their baby. *
One answer is to compromise with a babyname mash-up. Take both of your favourite names and write them down on a piece of paper. Is there a way of combining them together? For example, if your partner’s favourite is Ana and yours is Nelly, the result might be the lovely Annelia.
For the full story and more tips and tricks on choosing the right name for your bub, pick up the June/July issue of Mother & Baby magazine, on sale now!