How To Get Started Naming Your Baby

Two babies pick names out of a jar.
Ten silly and serious sources of inspiration for choosing your child's name.
Ronnie Andren
Ronnie Andren

Go for Unique

Jill Clark and John Anthony of Cheltenham, PA, perused several books while Clark was pregnant with their first child. They found Gianni, which equals Johnny in Italian. "We changed the g to a j and after staring at it for a month noticed that 'Ji' is an abbreviation for Jill and 'an' is short for Anthony," says Clark. They named their daughter Jiana and, she says, "I don't think we could have picked a better name."

Sarah Kehoe
Sarah Kehoe

Memorialize a Beloved Place or Time

James and Michelle Giesey of Elgin, IL, decided to call their son Austin because Michelle discovered she was pregnant on a trip to the Texas capital. Robert Simonson and Sarah Schmerler of Brooklyn, NY, conceived their first child in Venice. So they gave their son Asher, who was named after his maternal grandfather, the traditional Italian middle name Benvenuto, which means "welcome."

A place name can be a town, a country, or, in the case of Kelly and Jeff Huddleston of Gainesboro, TN, a street. "There was a street near our home called Avalon," Jeff says. "One day we were discussing possible names and just then we passed by the street sign. We looked at each other and said, 'Avalon.' It made me recall our second date. We were listening to Van Morrison, and my wife commented on how she loved the song that was playing. That album happened to be Avalon Sunset."

Alexandra Grablewski
Alexandra Grablewski

Pay Tribute to your Favorite Music or TV Character

Sara Stewart of Woodstock, GA, named her son Coda after the title of the final Led Zeppelin album. "His full name is Coda Jason Stewart," she says. "I figured if he ever didn't like the name Coda, he could go by C.J."

Shilpa Patel-Paul of Greenwood, IN, kept Shareena, her favorite name from Guiding Light, secret for many years because she was afraid someone would take it. Fortunately, no one did, and her daughter, Shareena Paul, is now 5 years old.

Your perfect little person needs the perfect name. Here's how to pick a great name for baby.

Photolibrary/Matton
Photolibrary/Matton

Honor Thy Pregnancy Craving

"Our fifth daughter's name is Molly Marie," says Jean Hoffman of Battle Creek, IA. "I insisted on the initials because I craved M&Ms during my pregnancy."

Jason Todd
Jason Todd

Celebrate the Nearest Holiday

David Levy of Cincinnati, and his wife were expecting their son in November 1999, close to Thanksgiving. "We were joking about naming him Butterball or Perdue," he recalls. "But when we landed on Tyson, we realized it was the best name we'd considered." It went to the top of their list, where it remained. And just in time, it turns out, since Tyson was fully cooked (so to speak) by October.

Use a Baby-Naming Service

These are proliferating on the Internet; a quick search-engine query will turn up at least a half-dozen services that, for a fee ranging from $15 to $75, will provide five or more names selected "just for you." One such service, asks for a variety of information (friends and family members you might want to honor, ethnic names you prefer, trendy or traditional tastes, and so forth). Forty-eight hours later, you received six interesting choices based on the information you provide.

Photolibrary/Matton
Photolibrary/Matton

Allow the Siblings to Decide

Marjorie and Robert Sims of Cordova, TN, had run out of ideas with their fourth child on the way. "My two oldest children were riding in the car with their dad," Marjorie says, "and my husband asked them, 'What should we name the baby?' One said, 'Benjamin,' and the other said, 'Joseph.'" Benjamin Joseph Sims is now 6 years old.

Aimee Herring
Aimee Herring

Let the Baby Name Itself

Julie Gibson of Orange Park Acres, CA, says she and her husband, James, kept playing the name game for days after their third child was born: "Finally, we narrowed it down to three names. My husband leaned over the bassinet and said the first one, and the baby cried. He said the second one, and the baby cried. He said the third name, and the baby cooed. The name our baby chose is Matthew, which means 'gift of God,' and we truly feel that he is our little gift."

Juice Images/Veer
Juice Images/Veer

Sell to the Highest Bidder

Jason Black and Frances Schroeder of Mount Kisco, NY, made headlines last summer when they put their third child's naming rights up for auction on Yahoo! and eBay. The minimum bid: $500,000. They hoped that a corporate sponsor's beneficence would allow them to buy a home and start a college fund. "You see it with buildings and concert halls," Black told me. "This seemed like the logical next step."

Maybe to them, but not to a number of journalists who found the idea distasteful. (On the Today show, Katie Couric told Black she thought it was "creepy.") The couple, who have two older daughters, decided to end their pursuit. They eventually gave their baby boy the old-fashioned name Zane.

Leave it to Fate

"My husband placed five names we agreed on in a hat and picked one out," says Veronica Rodriguez of Aurora, CO. Sounds easy enough, but even this process isn't foolproof, as Autumn Conley of Springfield, OH, discovered. "I decided that whichever name I drew first would be the baby's first name and the second would be the middle name," says Conley, who had been told that she was having a boy. "I ended up drawing the name Drystan Tyler. Ironically, I gave birth to a girl!" Conley wound up naming her daughter Cissy Alanis. (Cissy is Conley's mother's name.) "Just make sure to choose a boy's name and a girl's name -- in case Mother Nature decides to overrule the ultrasound," she advises.

Finally, sometimes a new parent simply finds the (arch)angels at her side. "I liked the name Gabriel, but my husband didn't want to name our son after an archangel -- funny, since his name is Michael," says Loralee Nolletti of New York City. Nolletti, whose husband was out of town, went into labor a month early during a snowstorm. The first taxi driver that she and her sister, Julie, hailed didn't know where the hospital was. The second driver knew where he was going. "As we were pulling up, Julie pointed his identification out to me," says Nolletti. "His name was Gabriel. That's when I said, 'Julie, I've just named my child.'"

Copyright & copy 2010 Meredith Corporation.

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