No-stress guide to baby naming

  • Article by: ERIN VAN VUUREN , McClatchy News Service
  • Updated: July 20, 2013 - 2:41 PM

Deciding on a name for your child is one of a new parent’s biggest decisions. Here are tips to help you have a little bit of fun with it.


credit: Mie Ahmt, iStock Cute baby with "Hello, my name is" name tag on. ORG XMIT: MIN1307161602591158

Photo: Mie Ahmt • iStock,

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There’s no way around it — every baby needs a name. It isn’t always an easy decision, but with these real-mom tips, it can be a fun one.

“For most couples, picking a name has become a nine-month process — even beyond,” said Pamela Redmond Satran, author of “The Baby Name Bible” and co-founder of

It all starts with an idea. Don’t think — just grab your partner and jot down every semisweet name that comes to mind (favorite teacher, great-grandpa, the cute kid in that Lifetime movie — anything goes).

Be nosy

A radio talk show host suggested watching credits to shows and movies, said one mom on message boards. You also can check newspaper captions for fun options, or even eavesdrop in line at Babies ‘R’ Us. (Just try not to be too creepy about it.)

Buy a book

Scan the shelves of your local bookstore, and you’ll find a bazillion name-book options, from comprehensive lists of 100,000-plus names (“The Complete Book of Baby Names” by Lesley Bolton) to more quirky inspirations (“Cool Names for Babies” by Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz), and even heritage-specific options (“O’Baby: The Irish Baby Name Book” by Geoffrey Johnson).

Scour the Web

Want to honor your Italian (or Japanese, or Romanian) roots? Browse names by origin on the baby-naming tool on Feeling adventurous? Try a search for avant-garde names on Want to see where a name is being used? Check out the NameMapper tool on Be sure to check the Social Security Administration site, too — it posts an annual list of the most popular names in the United States.

Get creative

Still on the hunt? Consider going the celebrity route (Bronx? Blue? North?) and think of any non-name words that you might like to add to the list. Satran isn’t too hot on “made-up” names, but if you’re really aching for originality, some moms suggest blending your faves. “I wanted Jackson, but my husband thought it was too popular and really wanted Paxton. Obviously, we came to a compromise and we both love it: Jaxton,” gushes a mom on

But not too creative

Whatever you do, Satran warns against taking an existing name and changing the spelling. “Avery is nice,” she said, “but Avierigh … I think it just creates difficulties.” Also remember to say your child’s full name out loud several times — original or not — and think of any potential nicknames and taunts. (Hey, it happens.)


Some names, like Champ, may sound super-cute when you’re referring to a toddler. But what about when he’s applying for a job? In other words, remember the kid will grow up. In fact, Satran said that choosing a name embodies a lot of feelings about who you want your child to be and how you want other people to perceive him or her. “Try to adopt an adult perspective,” she urged. “A name is really something that is not just for the moment, but something that will live for the child’s entire life.”


It’s not just a name. This could be a big deal between you and your spouse. “I think that these discussions often conjure up much deeper feelings,” Satran said, explaining that family relationships, hidden fears, religious conflicts and childhood regrets could come into play. Don’t be surprised if you both get extra-sensitive at some point. Just try to listen to each other and talk it out.


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