So you’re having a baby girl. Congratulations! You have probably already thought of everything at this point in the baby’s development. You’ve already painted the baby’s room, put the crib together, and started planning the baby shower. Did you remember to get the ever-important changing table? Oh, and what about a name?

You say you haven’t picked a name, yet?

OK. Here’s what you do. First, assess what sort of connotation you want, or don’t want, associated with her name. Then pick a name that you believe would fit your daughter for the rest of her life, even if she became an artist or the president. There are many important factors to consider.

Does it matter to you if half of the other girls in her first-grade class also have the same name? The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of the top 1000 names chosen for newborns by sex dating back per decade to 1900. It also lists them annually beginning with 1990. In 2003 Emily, Emma and Madison were the three most popular. Use this list as a source for possibilities and, more importantly, to reduce your list of viable names to the more unique.

Celebrity magazines provide insight into what will be the next wave of popular names. The names trendsetters give to their most recently born seem to end up on the top of the SSA list eventually. Celebrities seem to pick out very cool names for their children, such as Jade or Piper.

Often celebrities themselves have terrific names, however, think carefully if you really want your child to be associated with a celebrity’s name. People in the limelight don’t always maintain spotless reputations, and, at age 8, your child may not enjoy being named after “so-and-so” who was recently arrested for shoplifting.

Be careful that your child’s initials don’t end up spelling or meaning profane things Though Catherine Andrea Taylor’s initials spell out CAT, be wary of her poor sister Rhoda Abigail, whose initials spell out an animal that a cat would be chasing. And there are much, much worse.

Does the name rhyme? A good cadence in a name is important, however rhyming names will always promote taunts. For instance, Sally O’Malley always wished her parents had named her Erin. A good rule of thumb to go by for rhythm (not rhyme) is putting long first names with short last names, and vice versa.

You must also be conscious of the associated nicknames when choosing a longer name. A common social tendency is to use the shortened version in conversation, but then that nickname often sticks. The nickname itself should maintain a good rhythm with the last name and certainly should not rhyme.

Family names are a terrific source for finding good names. First of all, it is always beneficial to pay homage to your ancestors, be they deceased or still among the ranks of the living. Names that were popular when your great grandmother was born are not likely to be widely used today. Have you met many Gerthas recently? It’s obvious to a family member why you chose a family name, but outsiders may question your choice of nomenclature.

It is simple to expel their deleterious remarks with an explanation of how dear your great grandmother was to you. And lastly, if you feel pressured to use a family name that you don’t particularly like, you can always hide it as a middle name.

An excellent resource to turn to is a naming book, but be careful what you choose. Always look for a second opinion when you think you’ve found a terrific name. Check other reference material for the meaning behind names.

A lot of the name reference guides have translated names from other languages, but how well they are translated may be disputed. If you find a perfect name from another culture you should find a native speaker who can translate the true connotation behind that name, which may differ from the definition given in the naming book.

The ultimate source that has been used for millennia in selecting baby names is the Bible. With such a plentitude of choices, one should be sure that it can be pronounced easily. Unusual names that are spelled phonetically provide a simple solution to the constant mispronunciation that will follow a difficult name.

Take your time when going through the process. A person’s name is the most defining identification that we have, and it can either haunt or bless a person for the rest of their life. Communicate with your significant other and pick names that both of you can accept.

Once you have found names that you can live with, write them down and put them in a place where you will look at them often, such as the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror. Think about how they might be mispronounced. Say them out loud. Would you mind if that were your own name? Asking other people’s opinions in this matter may seem like a good idea, but the real choice is up to you. If your child’s name means something special to you, then that is truly what is most important.

The final celebration of choosing your baby’s name comes when you send out your birth announcements. Let the world know that there is a wonderful new member of your family who will bear the impressive name that you picked out.

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