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How Did You Choose Your Baby’s Name?

How Did You Choose Your Baby’s Name?

Today’s post is courtesy of Brian Donnelly, a Bright Horizons employee and first-time expectant dad.

I’ll preface this by saying prior to becoming first-time expectant parents, my wife and I never had baby names picked out that we’ve always wanted to name a future child. This is really where the dilemma begins. Up until now, it feels like the most vital naming we’ve ever been tasked with is creating a name for our wireless network or a fantasy football team – and we surely can’t name our child “56k Modem” or “Jamaal Charles In Charge.”

Expectant parents

So where do you start? This is the 6-step process we’ve followed so far.

6 Steps for Choosing Baby Names

Step 1.  Run through our “there’s NO way this baby will ever be named ‘X’” list. This list was a combination of old boyfriends and girlfriends, celebrity names that we feel have been over-saturated in pop culture, and any character from the early 00’s TV phenomenon, Laguna Beach (though we couldn’t commit to a complete ban of The Hills).

Step 2. Try to decide how much built-in “cool” we want this baby’s name to have. Obviously this is all subjective, but we brainstormed what’s at the top of the “cool name spectrum” and what’s at the low end. In our eyes, the traditional names tended to fall at the lower, more conservative end. An example of this would be “Brian” at the traditional end and “Hawkeye” at the pretty cool end. Either name can be cool because it’s all about the person who wears it…but we needed to start somewhere. Then we decided where we’d hope the ideal name would fall, closer to cool or closer to more traditional.

Step 3.  Research the past. We decided to look up the most popular girl or boy names from the 1900s and then go up from there decade by decade. We figured this would help us see what names could still be out there that haven’t yet had resurgence. Did you know that Dorothy and Eugene both ranked in the US’s top 25 most popular names in 1930? We found this research to be invaluable – and when you start adding in the additional layer of most popular names by different countries you open a Pandora’s box of great baby names.

Step 4. Decide on the “nickname” name vs. the formal name. Do we call her Beatrice or Bea? Do we legally name him Henry and tell everyone he goes by Hank? Or do we legally name him Hank? Now for all we know we’ll call our child something nowhere near what their actual name is because of some incident that hasn’t even occurred yet, but the nickname is a big consideration.

Step 5. Be conscious of those initials. Will their initials spell something that could be considered obscene or offensive? I won’t go into the hundreds of name combinations that you could have a field day with. We only discovered this after we thought of a great name only to realize that our future daughter’s initials would be G.O.D. Just something to keep in mind.

Step 6. Pick a few name options you like and then wait until the baby arrives. We’re hoping that once we lock eyes with our new friend that one of the names will jump out as a winner. If not, we’re picking out of a hat.

How did you pick your baby’s name? Any suggestions on additional things to consider when choosing baby names?

Brian Donnelly Bright Horizons Blogger

I’m Brian – a soon-to-be dad. I’m excited to share my journey into fatherhood as I am half excited and half terrified by the whole scenario. Along with my wife and our Boston Terrier, I think I’m ready for our life to turn into a complete circus…but in the best way possible.





  1. Kris-Ann, Progressive Mom

    Kris-Ann November 3, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Like you, we wanted something “cool” but not too popular and not too strange. We ended up with Max, not Maxwell, or Maximilian or Maximo…just Max… and Bennett, because we liked the sound of Max and Ben together, but didn’t want the more common name Benjamin. Turns out, while there are alot of Maxs now, in 2007, it wasn’t a popular kid name since it was the #1 dog name in America. Oops, that was a list we forgot to check. We’ve always called Bennett Ben or Benny (which we swore we’d never do), but he surprised us by wanting to go by Bennett in Kindergarten, so your future Hank or Henry might surprise you too.

    We also did the sportscaster test for both kids by saying “This is Max R… reporting live outside Fenway park.”

  2. Melissa November 3, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Our last name has 10 letters, so whatever name we chose, we wanted to keep it relatively short. We had our son’s name picked out since way before we got married. It’s name that we both loved – and got the idea of it from a TV show. Yes, a TV show. His name is Corey. And with my little girl – I was sitting in a doctor’s office one day that the receptionist was calling patients to confirm visits. She would say, “this is Mia from Dr. So and So’s office” – and just like that I decided that if had a girl, her name would be Mia. You never know when that lightbulb hits! They are almost 10 and 7 and I love their names as much as I did all those years ago.

    As a child, I was definitely one of those girls that had to have pens, notebooks, etc…with my name on it. Oddly enough in the mid 70s/early 80s’, the name Melissa was hard to find! Not so much anymore, but I always vowed that if I had a girl, she’d be able to find things with her name on it. Agree 100% on the initial thing too….we had to eliminate many middle names from our lists that way.

  3. Eileen November 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    My husband and I scanned the credits of every movie we watched (old, new, foreign, etc.) and found a lot that we both really liked. I’d heard from a number of people who said they had a name all picked out but then the name didn’t seem to fit the baby, so we went in with a top 5 list. With both of our boys, my husband and I immediately agreed on the name when we saw the baby because it just fit. With the first, neither of us had a favorite. But with the second, we both had different favorites and the baby didn’t look like either one — but we both knew which name fit him. I can’t explain how a minutes-old baby can “look” like one name, and how we both saw it, but that’s how it worked for us. Good luck! 🙂

  4. Media Mom

    Media Mom November 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    My one piece of advice is to not over think it. If you really love that girl name with the G, go with G.O.D. So she may not have a lot of monogrammed stuff, or if she does, she’ll be the talk of the town. Everyone has different stories of their kids names, but I don’t know anyone who has really suffered an anticipated angst over their name. My sister, for instance, eschewed the name Ben because when paired with her last name, it sounded like Bent Owl. Ultimately she named her son something that ended up giving him the initials EAT, and she hadn’t even realized it until after. On reflection, what’s so life crippling about a name that sound like Bent Owl when it runs together?

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