How to Decide on Baby Names

Picking the name of your baby can be a walk in the park for some couples--perhaps they've had a name picked out for years or are set on giving the new little guy or gal a family name. But what about the rest of us who have no idea what to call our kids once they exit the womb? Naming a child is no small task--they (and YOU!) will have to live with that name for the rest of time! Here are some tips to use when selecting the name of your future bundle of joy...

Endless Options

Consider the endless name options. Are you more of a traditionalist? Names like Michael and Emma are classics that will stand the test of time. But if you want your kid's name to pop out on the roll sheet in his or her kindergarten class, go with a more unique, perhaps even "trendy" name. Some of the top names from 2010 were Sophia, Isabella, Olivia, Aiden, Jacob, and Jackson--not too funky, but definitely not your average Joe.

Another option to keep in mind is naming the baby after someone you know or like. You could name him or her after a family member or friend, but also for your favorite book or movie character, a famous person you admire, or a religious figure. The choices are endless if you decide to name Baby after another person, and remember, the taken name does not have to be your baby's first name. Middle names are a common way people commemorate another's name. One thing to keep in mind is if the other side of the family will feel offended if you name the child after a person from another part of the family.

Resources, Resources

In addition to using others as inspiration, there are myriads of book and internet resources that can suggest more names than you'd ever be interested in! Discover which names were popular during certain years, get a list of names that sound nice together, or even look at crazy celebrity baby names to narrow down what you DON'T want your child's name to be. Keep your eyes and ears open to all the names you hear on TV, on the radio, in stores, and everywhere--you can even keep a little notebook in your purse to jot them down as you hear them.

Now For The Tricky Part

Once you've brainstormed and have a substantial list of possibilities, it's time to come together with your man to decide which names you both like. Cross off those you both dislike, and keep the ones you agree on as well as the ones only one of you likes. If you're stuck between a few names, see if any of them work well as first and middle names. Compromise is the key if you can't agree on one name. Make sure you're both leaving the discussion table with a couple names you like. And even if you know the sex of your baby, make sure you keep a list of names for both sexes...just in case!

Keep in mind the child's name versus what you'll actually be calling. Will he or she get a nickname? Some parents detest nicknames and if you're one of them, make sure you either pick a name that doesn't have an easy nickname or prepare yourself to tell people that your kid's name is "Jonathan, not Johnny". Nicknames can be cute, but oftentimes they stick past a child's younger years and persist into adolescence or even adulthood. While it's sometimes not a big deal, it is definitely something to consider when choosing a name.

Get Crazy

One way to make a baby's name totally unique is through spelling. You may pick a completely unique name or a more common name but spell it differently, making it special. Unless you're really into it, don't get too crazy with differently spelled names--a cool name spelling can turn odd very quickly. As someone with a unusually spelled name, I can tell you that they never have key chains with my name on them in souvenir stores and the barista at Starbucks always looks to me for spelling guidance when I say my name after ordering a caramel macchiato. Don't get me or your instinct wrong, unique name spellings are awesome (I get compliments...and pronunciation questions...on mine frequently!), but my advice is not to go overboard.

Ultimately, choosing your child's name is one of the most fun and intimate things parents get to do in the months before the little guy or girl is born. Whatever you decide on, make sure to think carefully if you'll share it with the world before the baby is born--you might get unwanted input if you indulge the name to everyone. Otherwise, have fun with it and don't let disagreements get you have nine months to make your final decision!