What are you naming the baby?

If you’re expecting a child, you get this question more than once a day. It can be fun to talk about. It can also be stressful.

You have your list, your spouse has his, and you’ve each nixed one or two favorites off the other’s top five. Well-meaning friends will offer opinions that can confuse and frustrate you. And there’s likely a family member who has dibs on a name that’s at the top of your spouse-approved list.

It’s steadying to figure out what kind of name you want. Traditional names can feel comfortable. Family names can feel bonding. Unique names can feel edgy. What feels right to you?

We like to go different but not weird, paired with a family name. Nothing from the top of the baby-names-of-the-year list (you can find this at ssa.gov), just to keep from having a same-name situation at school.

Sometimes that works. With our daughter, it did. She is Tatum, and she never has to use her last initial to distinguish herself. We have come across five or fewer Tatums in the 10 years since we chose the name.

It almost worked with our next kid. He is Teague. We know zero other Teagues. But he came at the same time the first car on the Teagan train left the station. Teagans left and right. There’s even one in his kindergarten class with a last name similar to ours.

We had to laugh. Really, what use is it to worry about the parts of naming your kid you can’t control?

Naming your child is a personal decision and a privilege you’ve what-iffed about since you were seven. Don’t relinquish any part of it.

The neighbor kid with the same name probably won’t always be your neighbor. If your sister calls dibs on your favorite name, maybe she should deliver first. That may sound mean, but I know people who have deferred on a name, then the dibs-caller didn’t use it. All’s fair in baby naming. But be ready for a same-name cousin if the dibs-caller is stubborn. And if your mother-in-law says your intended name reminds her of some bully she taught in school, well, soon enough it will come to mean a sweet grandchild.

I learned with each pregnancy to talk less and less about what names were on our list. I just couldn’t put any energy into considering what other people had named their dogs or what dirty word the baby’s initials might spell.

I found that when people discover the baby’s name at the same time they meet the baby, no one—and I mean no one—will look into the face of a miracle and then tell you that you should have called it something else.

So listen to your heart. And congratulations.
P.S. The best baby name book out there, hands down, is The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg (www.Babynamewizard.com). It not only has great name suggestions complete with meanings, but under each name is a list of suggested names that go well as middle or sibling names. And yes, it hit some of mine dead on. This comes in handy because you can look up a name you like, and you’ll probably like the names listed that go with it. It’s a great way to build your list. This book is a must!

- Sara

Sara Wigington, Author