13 Tips & Tricks for Choosing Your Baby's Name

You've got your short list of contenders -- but how do you make the final call? The deadline looms, so read on now for our smartest tips.

  • Blow it off (for now)

    This one may seem counterintuitive, but don't make your final decision until the baby's born. Once she is here, and you're looking at something gorgeous, tangible, and real, you may find you have a newfound sense of clarity. Is she really a Stella or a Sophie? Staring into her eyes will likely give you the answer.

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    Spill the beans -- selectively

    Share your front runner with the one person who knows you the best (excluding your partner, of course, who already knows what's at the top of the list) and whose opinion you'll value. (Our advice: skip Mom -- she may know you best, but that conversation's too loaded.) Having your sister or best friend weigh in might help sway you or confirm reservations you have about a certain choice. Sometimes just seeing a loved one's quick, immediate reaction -- just that one, right person -- will help you make the call. Rush home immediately after spilling, of course, to share the results with your hubby.

  • Play the "I'm pushing him out" card

    You and your husband in a deadlock? You adore Pablo and he says it's got to be Peter? Lay your biggest trump card on the table -- "I love you honey, but I'm the one carrying this baby and giving birth to him, so I get final call." Voila. Discussion over. (Hey, as long as he doesn't hate your choice, it's worth a try.)

  • Say them out loud -- a lot

    Try out your favorite names for a couple of days to see how they sound -- saying and hearing them said will make a difference. Love Harry and Walt? Refer to the bump as Harry for two days and then Walt for two days to see which sits better with you. Throw the names into your daily conversations: "Which do you think Harry will like better in the nursery -- soft yellow or sea blue?" "Do you think Walt will grow up to be an astronaut or president?" See which choice feels more like a natural fit and a reflection of your personal style.

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    Write 'em down

    Seeing is believing, so channel your old junior high self and write down your fave name choices with baby's last name to see how it looks. Or even design a birth announcement online to see how the name will appear "officially." Do you love it? Is it too long? Not unique enough? Seeing it in black and white will transform the options from theoretical to specific.

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    Host a naming party

    Have three or four names you really, truly love equally? Invite close friends over for a naming party, put the options up for a vote -- with fun visual aids, like a giant easel where you can write the choices -- and let your peeps break the deadlock. Done.

  • Go with the one that makes you smile

    Baby naming expert Suelain Moy, author of the recently published Names to Grow On, says to throw the checklist of what makes a name "perfect" out the window, and instead look deep inside. Close your eyes and think about it. Which name do you really, really love the most? Go with the one that makes you smile every time you say it. If you truly love the name now, trust us: Once the baby gets here and becomes that name, you'll love it even more.

  • Make good use of the middle name

    Have several options you adore, and hate the thought of leaving one behind? Make one (or even two) the middle name. If they combine nicely, then you get to use all of your faves. Who says your kid can only have one middle name? Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin famously named their first child Apple Blythe Alison Martin -- bestowing on their daughter not one but both of her grandmothers' names. Cool.

  • Call in the experts

    Want to make absolutely, positively sure you get it just right? Take the pressure off of yourself and work with people who get paid to make these decisions. Where to begin? Whitney Walker and Eric Reyes, authors of the book The Perfect Baby Name, will help you pick the ideal name based on sound and rhythm (just FYI, their kids' names are Gabriel Rush and Jasper James Walker Reyes). Contact them at http://www.theperfectbabyname.com.

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    Put it to a vote online

    Like the idea of input but prefer not to solicit it from potentially biased friends and family? Put it to a vote online (see link below) using our baby name poll. Fill in your top choices and then watch the responses roll in.

  • Let tradition trump the trends

    Are you over the idea that names have to be as unique as possible? Then buck the trends and be a traditionalist: Pick a family name (first or last) for your child. It will have meaning and emotional significance for you and your partner, and that's pretty cool.

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    Name your first two kids at once

    Know you're having a boy and have two names you love? Use one now and bank the second -- if you have another boy, or if you've picked a gender-neutral name, you're all set. (This is an especially good tactic if name #2 is the husband's fave. This way you have a couple years to talk him out of it.)

  • If all else fails, go with the alphabet rule

    At a total loss? Have a few good options but just do not know how you're going to make the final call? Employ the alphabet rule. Zoe and Zachary will always be at the end of the line at recess or gym class when it's time to line up alphabetically. But Anna and Arturo will get to be first every time -- and they'll love you for it.

    Copyright © 2008 Meredith Corporation.