subscribe to podcasts
5.36 MB | 13:21 Min
Jennifer Moss is the founder of BabyNames.com and the author of The One-In-A-Million Baby Names Book. Jennifer has one daughter. Her name? Miranda Margaret.
Welcome to your Pea in the Podcast, I’m Bonnie Petrie with everything you need to know about your body, your baby and the big changes ahead in your life in your journey to becoming a mommy.
This week, it’s all about naming your baby. It’s a monumental responsibility…
“This is something that will last with the child for the rest of their lives.”
So do you go classic?
“Look at family names, surnames, people who have influenced you throughout your lifetime.”
“Right now I think the name Brooklyn is pretty, and in 5 years I’ll probably not like that one either.”
We’ll talk to people like you who are trying to figure out how to pick the best names in the world for their kids. And we have a naming expert on board to help keep your child from hating you in 15 years because of the name you chose for them. That’s all in this Pea in the Podcast.
It’s one of the most daunting decisions of your pregnancy — picking your baby’s name.
“I love the name Chloe for a girl.”
“Madison, I like, I really like that one. In terms of boy names, I kind of like George, Bill, John.”
But what about Aidan, Brayden, Jayden and Caden? Or Emily, Emma, Ava and Addison? You hear those names everywhere these days. You probably have a book or two packed with names and their meanings and there are lots of websites dedicated to the topic. Well, how in the world are you supposed to choose just one name with so many options out there?
Jennifer Moss has one of the most comprehensive websites on baby names out there, BabyNames.com, and she says, well, it can be an overwhelming task.
“I think because the parents know that this is something that will last with the child for the rest of their lives. So sometimes it is overwhelming for the parent to come across the perfect name.”
So where do you even begin?
“I think the best place to begin is kind of look at your own history and background. Look at family names, surnames, people who have influenced you throughout your lifetime, you know, important teachers or heroes. You know, just start jotting down names that are important to you and your partner.”
Choosing a name from your life or family history will give your baby’s name a special significance for you, and eventually for them, too. A lot of people pick names this way.
“My daughter’s name, Carolyn Diane, is a mixture of 2 family names. My wife had a relative whose name was Carolyn and my family, my mother, her middle name is Diane.”
“Chloe was just because someone I knew really liked that name and she died, so I decided that I would name my kid that in honor of her. And I always wanted to use Leo for a middle name for my grandfather.”
Mining your life may also help you find a name that is unique, particularly if you choose an old family name or a surname, without it being, well, odd. Moss says there are a lot of those (odd names) out there.
“I heard of twins that were named Ova and Avo and ova, as you know, is the Latin term for egg. And there were a couple of boys in the last couple of years named Espn and I would not know how to pronounce that. And I think there was one couple who wanted to name their daughter Pixie, which I thought was quite unusual.”
Yes, that would be unusual. Celebrities are known for these types of names like Apple or Rumor or Surie or even Kal-El. Uh-huh. Be prepared for some passionate reactions from the people around you if you do decide to go with a unique name.
“Things like Colt, Race and stuff like that. It makes me think what are you doing? What happened to Bill and George and Bob? Their name is Colt?”
Of course some people think Colt is just the perfect name for their little cowboy, and if that is you and you’re just in love with that name, go with it. It’s your baby after all.
Moss says in her work at BabyNames.com she not only runs across unusual names, but she sees a lot of unusual spellings, like spelling Jennifer with a couple of y’s or Michelle with an s rather than a c, and she advises against this.
“I think, you know, it’s a burden on the child because, like I said, if they have a ‘creative’ spelling — as we put it — they’re destined to sit there and spell it for people the rest of their lives, every time they tell people their name and write it down, then people will misspell it. You know, it is nice to set them apart, but try just to use a more unique name to set them apart rather than using a common name with a unique spelling.”
Another big trend these days is to choose names that are gender neutral.
“Names that are kind of unisex names, like Sam for a girl. I would really like that, that’s a really good one.”
“I like Bailey for a boy and Logan for a boy.”
Yeah, there are many in little Aidans and Carsons and Averys and Alexs — boys and girls — running around the playground these days. Moss thinks some of this, at least for parents of girls, may be about equality.
“Well, I think a trend of parents who really want to put their daughters on the same playing field as men in life, in business and kind of giving them a unisex name puts them at that level.”
And I must admit this was a small consideration when we picked our baby girl’s gender-neutral name.
Some of these names, like Aidan, well they are just super trendy. They have been hanging out at the top of the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names for years (we have a couple of similar cool baby naming resources for you at the bottom of the page).
Moss says you want to choose carefully when you consider the hot name of the moment.
“It could eventually become dated. You know, like for example my name, Jennifer. Everybody kind of thinks the 70s, even though I was born in the 60s, kind of before the name became popular. But that’s okay, then it dates me a little younger than I am. And the other one is that, you know, they might go to school with 5 other Aidan’s in their class so they end up having to use another name like Aidan D or Aidan J to differentiate themselves.”
Okay, so let’s buckle down and pick this name. One thing a lot of couples do is make lists and then compare them. Names on both lists go on a new list, and names that you can both live with from each other’s lists…they also go on the list. Lots of lists we’re talking about here! Then you work your way down from there.
Some ways to narrow that list even further, say them out loud. Does that feel right? Does that feel like your baby’s name? If you have particular favorites, begin referring to your little bean by that name and see how that feels. Talk about Ben’s nursery or Susan’s onesies, that kind of thing. Practice writing them down, see how they look to you; does that look like your baby’s name? Be careful if you suddenly get passionate about a particular name that hadn’t been on your radar before, particularly if it is trendy. Be careful. Like that yellow car that you thought was so cool and now you want to drive it to the river?
“Right now I think the name Brooklyn is pretty and in 5 years I will probably not like that one either. And I like names like Audrey because they are kind of old school and that old glamour era, but in 5 years I will probably regret that too.”
So think about that. Your taste in names might evolve over time and that name that you just adore today you may despise tomorrow.
Okay, some other tips to keep in mind: when you have picked that perfect name, check out the initials, what do they spell? There are some 3-letter words out there you do not want your kids to be called for the rest of his or her lives. Take Allen Samuel Simpson, for example. Yeah, you get the picture.
Also think twice before giving two of your children names with the same initials like John Mathew and Jane Mary, because sometimes you may want to use the initials for organizational purposes, you know, initials on the book bags, that kind of thing. If they are the same, that is not going to work for you.
What else? Think of all of the possible nicknames that could come with your baby’s given name. If you don’t like the name Dick, Richard may be out. If you hate Liz, think twice about Elizabeth. Not that you can’t make those names work if you are in love with them, but you’ll be correcting people a lot.
If you’ve got it narrowed down, and you still can’t decide on a final name, maybe call on one trusted confidant to get their reaction. Maybe not your mother or your father, because they may have very passionate feelings of their own about what they would like their grandbaby to be named. But maybe a sister or a very good friend.
And when I say one, I mean one. This is what we did. We told very few people what we’d settled on until the day our baby was born. Jennifer Moss at BabyNames.com says that is the best thing to do for your baby-naming sanity.
“People can get input from everybody, especially in-laws. It’s kind of hard when you go into this with naming conflicts because it’s a great time in your life, and you almost can get too much input from everybody, especially when it comes to family names, and they want you to name your baby after certain people that are important to them. And, you know, my advice is to exactly do what you did. If you have too many conflicts that come up with the name, just stop telling people. Keep it to yourself, because once the baby is born, they are going to concentrate on the baby and not so much the name.”
Some people go to outsiders with absolutely no investment in what this baby’s name may be for help. They post polls online. They go to baby naming message boards for input; you could do that. Or they may even go to an expert like Jennifer Moss. Moss’ website offers a service that helps you pick your child’s name if you’re stumped. Moss can also answer any question you may have about your name choices.
Some people, though, they just wait. They have a few ideas about what they might choose, but they want to meet their baby first. They want to see which of the names they may have chosen fits the unique person they are about to meet.
However you decide to do it, Moss says remember it is your decision and no one else’s.
“Stay true to yourself and find something that both you and your partner love and don’t listen to too many outside sources. And when you finally do tell the world who your baby is, do it in a positive way. Let them know you love the name and it’s very special to you. Even if it wouldn’t necessarily be their first choice, all that matters is that you are in love with it.”
Like I am with my baby’s name.
Now how did we choose our daughter’s name, you ask? Well, for me the most important consideration was the name’s meaning. Her name means fire, little fire, or little fiery one to be more specific. I just love the passion and strength that name evoked to me. I wanted that passion and strength for my daughter, and as she grows, she is the embodiment of that name, all heart and spirit and energy and light. So even if she is one of the thousands of Aidans roaming the playgrounds these days, she is her name. It’s perfect for her. We love it and that is all that matters.
And that is all that matters for you, too. So good luck picking your baby’s name!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Pea in the Podcast: Naming Your Baby. Please visit our website PeaInThePodcast.com for more information about our experts, to find links and transcripts, and to register to get tailored week-by-week shows for each week and stage of your pregnancy. It’s everything you need to know about your body, your baby and the big changes ahead in your life in your journey to becoming a mommy. For Pea in the Podcast, I’m Bonnie Petrie. Thanks for listening.
BabyNames.com’s list of most popular baby names. This list is neat, because it factors in alternate spellings when figuring out which names are the most popular in a given year. So while Jacob and Emily may be the most popular names on the SSA list, when you factor in the multiple spellings (Aidan, Aiden and Aden, for example), Aidan and Ava remain at the top.
The name Voyager is very cool. It shows you how popular your favorite name has been throughout recent history. I mostly like the graphics.