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What’s in a (Baby) Name?

From trendy to classic, choose the right style for your family.

When Inspiration Strikes continued...

Eve Chen admits that she named her baby girl Evyn after the "Rock Band" avatar she made up for herself. Most people think her daughter Evyn's name is a mix of her first name, Eve, and her husband's name, Aaron. "I say it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks as long as you like the name and you're not setting your child up for teasing down the line," she says.

A name can even spark a ritual that you can share with your child. Joanne Rendell, a novelist in New York City, named her son Benny after her favorite Mexican restaurant in the East Village, Benny's Burritos. "I ate there all the time when I was pregnant, and now it's my son's favorite place to eat," she says. 

Baby Naming Remorse

For some couples, the baby name discussion can lead to heated conversations.

Maria Lijoi, a mother of two, recalls how her husband Tom nixed every name she proposed, including Stella, her favorite, because he'd feel like Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire every time their daughter misbehaved.

"I almost resorted to playing the 'I'm the one who has to deal with being pregnant, can't you just let me have the name I want' card but thought better of guilting him into a name he didn't like," she says.

Tom created a spreadsheet to list acceptable first and middle name combinations before they settled on Alexandra Jane and Caitlin Ava. "We did wait until we saw both girls to make sure it fit," Maria says.

"Names can bring up deep-seated feelings about ethnicity, self-image, and gender identity," Satran says. "The ultimate goal is to try to accommodate each other's feelings and arrive at a name that addresses both of your feelings."

Some parents agonize over the naming process but have a change of heart after the big decision and experience baby name remorse.

Kelcey Kintner, who blogs at The Mama Bird Diaries, says she and her husband had difficulty choosing a girl's name and finally settled on Presley. But from the moment her daughter was born, she didn't look like a Presley. Instead, they nicknamed her Summer, a name the couple hadn't even discussed, and then later changed it officially.

"If a child is young enough and the parent really feels awful about it and the spouse is in agreement, then maybe the best thing is to change the name before the child starts responding to it," Satran says. "But if it's a case where the parents disagree and the baby's already there, then you should learn to live with it. A lot of times people are overreacting. As your child gets older, it's less and less about you, and more and more about them."

Still unsure about picking a baby name? Keep in mind these three tips:

  1. Share your top picks. Ask a few friends whose taste you trust to be sounding boards. Wattenberg says, "If you actually think your family and friends are all going to hate the name you chose, that's a warning sign."
  2. Think like a local. "Naming style is a local thing," Wattenberg says. "Landon is a perfect example of a name that is a top five huge hit in certain areas of the country like Louisiana but not Massachusetts."
  3. Spell it with ease. Don't go for a trendy spelling. "A lot of parents try to make a name distinctive by spelling it differently," Wattenberg says, "but you spend most of your life saying names, not spelling them."
Reviewed on September 02, 2014

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