Bullyproofing Your Baby Name

You're probably already considering about a hundred different angles on your baby's name—the name's meaning, how well it flows with your last name, the spelling, and its level of popularity. But one thing you may not have considered is how well your name choice will fly with your kid's future classmates.

You may have faced a little chiding for your name when you were in school—I remember lots of "Anna Banana" for a friend of mine. (The kids weren't exactly novel.) But you may be able to head off some of the teasing right from the get go, by not giving them an easy target. Consider these thoughts as you're narrowing down your name list:

- Run your favorites by the experts. And I don't mean the baby naming experts. Find a small group of 10-year-old boys, and see what they think of your chosen name. Ask them what sorts of crazy and mean nicknames they can come up with, based on the baby's name. At least, then, you'll know the worst of what can happen.

- Avoid "kiddie" pop culture references. Names like Dora and Barney are likely indelibly linked with their kid-friendly namesakes, which will make your kid the coolest one in the three-and-under set, but may cause problems later in elementary school or in those tough middle school years.

- Consider the local naming norms. Talk to friends with older kids, and see if what you're planning "fits" with the culture where your child will be raised. In an ultratraditional neighborhood, a creative spelling like Aydyn may net your kid some negative notice.

- Double check for slang. There may be a connotation to the name in certain circles that may not be exactly what you'd had in mind for your darling. Consider the moniker Mary Jane, which became synonymous with marijuana.

- Check out the monogram, too. You may be giving your kid initials that spell something less than desirable—and that could lead to mocking, too.

Illustration: Harrassing the Target by fliegenwulf / Shutterstock

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