Blend Your Two Favorites
Agreeing on a name you both love is cause for a happy dance; if you and your partner like different choices, not so much. "Getting to choose a child's middle name isn't the same," says Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard. You could take the "you name this baby, and I'll take the next one" route, but that assumes you'll have more than one child and requires one of you to have a lot of faith (and patience).
"It's tempting to think, I'm giving birth to her, so I should get to have the final say, but remember that the name is a powerful bridge to bonding," Wattenberg explains. "No one should have to cringe when saying their child's name!"
A good compromise: Do a combo. "I liked Lilliana and my husband liked Ella, which is how we got Elliana," says Krystle Bailey, of Atlantic City. This is trendy, Wattenberg says: "It started with celebrity mash-ups like Brangelina, but parents are now applying it to baby names." Names that have lots of vowels tend to work best as hybrids -- even for noncelebs.
Bypass A Family Name
It's always a nice tribute to name a child after a beloved grandma or grandpop, but even though some old-fashioned names are back in a big way (think Ava, Henry, and Olivia), others aren't (sorry, Egbert and Mervin). "You can use your relative's name as a middle name, or consider names that are similar," suggests Marcia Layton Turner, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to 40,000 Baby Names.
Ginger Anderson, who lives in San Diego, went both ways for her son. "We knew we'd give him Chase as his first name, and we wanted his middle name to be from my side of the family," she says. "The problem is, my family tree is overrun with Virgils, Elmers, and Richards ... not exactly my taste." So she joined the first syllable of her dad's name ("Ri" from Richard) and the second of his middle name ("Lan" in Alan).
You can also commemorate, say, your Uncle Donald, with what Wattenberg refers to as the "nicknamesake." Not into Donald but like Don? Choose a different name with the same nickname, such as Donovan, and you've honored your uncle in style. If you want to acknowledge your dad or uncle but are expecting a girl, try gender bending; add an "a" to a traditional male name. Or play with letters. "My grandma Olga died four months before my son was born," says Sarah Gobel, of Shoreview, Minnesota. "With some clever rearranging, we got Logan."
Put Last Names First
Mary Lynn Murphy, who lives in Pelham, New York, named her daughter Dempsey, her mom's maiden name. Many parents take this approach, says Wattenberg, although there's a limit to the surname-as-first-name trend: "You're not going to find lots of little Rosenblatts running around!"
Mine Your Cultural Roots
With so many ethnically inspired names topping the charts, there's no such thing as a name that sounds too foreign. But if you'd prefer to celebrate your ancestry while giving your child a more common name, pick one from your heritage that has an Americanized nickname (think Luc for Gianluca). This way, says Turner, "Your child's name can reflect his ancestry without being difficult to pronounce."
Or you can focus on the middle name, as Amy Yang, of Sacramento, California, did. "My husband and I wanted a Hmong name in honor of our ethnicity, but I wanted an American name too." What they came up with: Noah Nruag Naag, a cultural hybrid.
Wait Until You Meet Him
It might sound like the ultimate in procrastination, but taking the wait-and-see approach makes sense for some couples, who realize that the more they ruminate on a name, the funnier it sounds. Consider letting the way your cherub looks or acts upon arrival shed light on whether a moniker was meant to be.
Plug Your Ears To Critics
With a first name like Jason, there didn't seem to be much for Alyssa Knapp, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to worry about, until her husband started lobbying for the middle name Danger. "I was skeptical at first but changed my mind during labor," she says. "It was long, and we had a few scares where his heart stopped, so Danger actually fit him perfectly." Knapp proved easier to convince than their folks, though: "Both sets of grandparents thought we were joking."
So should you reveal Baby's name before she's born? On one hand, "wouldn't you want to know if everyone thought the name was ugly?" Wattenberg asks. "Your child is going to have to live with it!" Then again, because most moms find out the baby's sex in advance, it's fun to have a surprise at birth. You need something to announce!
You might want to bounce your very top contenders off a few confidants. "Older folks don't have a sense of how children on a playground will receive a name, but if your pals with kids tell you it has a fatal flaw, take that into account," Wattenberg says.
When considering outside opinions, ask yourself: Are you worried that you chose a bad name or are you concerned about making others happy? If you and your partner love it, Grandmom will too.