How do you feel when you think about naming your baby?
Excited or torn?
Heavy and stuck?
All of the above?
Try these and see where they take you! Like almost anything pregnancy-related, name picking takes time and patience. Trust yourself! Deep down you know what your baby name is, all you need is to take some time to access your knowledge. As you go through these steps, I invite you to stay curious, keep an open mind to allow your baby naming story to evolve.
All the steps are also in this free fillable printable I made for you to help you find the right name.
My advice is to read through first and see in what order you prefer to do these steps. For me personally, it made sense to go through the steps one by one before making any baby name lists but we all function differently so if you prefer, you can start by creating your first name list draft. Pick up a pen and paper and pour out all the names out of your mind. Don’t think about categories, meanings, just go! Any names that make you smile and nod. Once you have your draft, go through the steps below and narrow down the names on your first draft.
If you feel stuck and find no inspiration, just start from step 1.
Get clear about what you want (you personally and as a family)
Think about what kind of name you want- long or short, popular or unique, unisex, traditional, international sounding, a name that runs in the family, etc. Write down your requirements on paper (or download a free fillable printable here). Be clear about what you want and at the same time, embrace the possibility that you may fall in love with a name that does not fit your categories. In the end, parenting rarely goes as planned.
When we were expecting our first we set the trend- simple, short, easy-to-pronounce, cross-cultural names, that do not run in the family. We aimed for internationally sounding names also acceptable in our native languages. The names we chose mostly fit our categories, with the exception that we did not want popular names but ended up with names that are not rare or unique.
You have your categories- now what? Associations, meanings, wishes
Before you jump in and start making lists, take some time and play the word association game: close your eyes, think of any words you want your baby name to be associated with. Consider any personal traits, wishes, meanings you want to convey. Take it further and ask yourself how you want to feel when you remember this special time of baby name picking.
Do you want to remember how stressed you were or how much you argued about it? Yes, heavy feelings might be a part of your story but they do not define it. And it is ok to admit and accept the challenging part of it. But how much better it is to focus the warm feelings of love and connection with your unborn child.
What do you want to associate your baby’s name with? A memory that makes you smile? A place where you felt safe and loved? A special person? Take notes, capture those words on paper. You are the creator behind a very special story, one worth sharing with loved ones year after year.
Back in time
Allow some time to go on a trip back to your childhood.
Daydream. Pull out the old photos, flip the album pages, smile, laugh, and remember who you were and how you felt back then. Ask people who knew you as a kid about anything they still remember.
Try listening to your favourite childhood songs, remember your favourite books.
What names did you like back then? What did you name your dolls? And that stuffed animal you dragged everywhere? Any fairy tale characters you loved?
Do this without setting big expectations that you will find a perfect name, rather appreciate spending special time with yourself as a child. Connect to yourself to sharpen your intuition. See if any names come up and note them down.
Casually ask around
Some people love to ask others, some would never do. Skip this step if you think things may get too complicated. Focus on staying open and positive and ask close friends or family- you never know, they may have some really beautiful names in mind. The chances are that a few good friends, that you trust and feel good around, might be able to transfer your friendship’s positive energy and good vibes into some great names.
Have casual conversations without committing to any names right away. In the end, naming your baby is a very intimate process. And if you end up choosing a completely different name, ideally, your close friends would understand. I would go even further and suggest that you ask people you don’t know very well- just hear them out, you never know how the right name may pop out. Keep all suggestions on paper, even though you may not like all of them. At a later time, read through and select only the names you truly like.
Ｗhen my close friends were expecting, we often discussed names together and that was how we came up with their beautiful girl`s name. I am now so proud to be her godmother and this special memory will always be a part of our friendship story. Back to your story now.
A lot happens online these days so why not try asking in groups you are in. People are usually happy to offer suggestions and share their stories. Carefully choose supportive groups, not places where criticism and mocking are common, the least you want is to be surrounded with negativity and judgment. In one of the groups I am part of baby-naming posts come up often and people always offer lots of support and great advice.
Interview the kids
What shall we name the baby? Any names that are not good for this baby? What is your favourite name? If you can choose a new name for yourself, what will it be?
For those of you who already have kids ask them to help and suggest names for their siblings. If you are expecting your first, ask children around you! You might not choose any of their suggestions but you are in for the fun- I promise they will come up with the most hilarious names. Write them down in your pregnancy journal- you can tell stories later. Your kids will thank you one day that you did not name them after these suggestions.
Siblings can also help you pick between two names that you love. My parents actually did this- they had two names for my little sister and let me pick one. Needless to say, I felt grown-up, important, and connected to my sister even before she was born. Read more about How to help siblings prepare for a new baby.
Before our third child was born, my older boys were very excited about the name- every day they had a new name, sometimes real names, sometimes made-up names. My older boy, seven years old at the time, kept reading baby name books and looking for the right name. Thinking about those times now helps me realize how important is to just celebrate your baby, here and now. Let the love flow!
Time to narrow down your choices
Your partner is not mentioned in these steps, but ideally, they have done their part, and either you are going through the steps together or they have found their way to come up with names they like.
By now you have notes on:
- Requirements for your baby’s name
- Associations, wishes, meanings
- Names you like, names from your childhood, suggested by family, friends, or the kids around
Read through and cross off any names you dislike or any names that are just not right for any reason. Work with the names that are left- use markers to highlight the names you like most, you like least, your top 10, top 3, etc. In the end, you will have some names that might work. Make a short and tidy name list. No rush- let these names sink in. In a few days take another look at your top names list. Do you feel different about any names? Reconsider and finalize. Use the list to discuss with the people closest to you.
Ask your baby
Did you find a few names that you like but none you love? Or maybe you cannot agree on any name and have resigned to calling them Baby till they move out. Or do you have two names and cannot decide which one is better? Even if you have a winner and you think you have already found the right name, it is always a good idea to run the test and ask the baby how they feel about it.
I first heard about this idea in one of the podcast episodes of Alexia Leachman’s Fear Free Childbirth where she shared about connecting with her baby and asking about their name. At that time my second son was about to make an appearance any time soon and even though we had had some ok names, my husband and I felt stuck as we did not have The right name. The idea to directly ask the baby got me excited and I went to bed that night determined to try.
The next morning I had already forgotten about it but a name came to mind and it got me by surprise- it was a name that had been on our list, even for our first kid, but neither I nor my husband felt excited about it. Hm, I was not convinced, maybe I got it wrong, maybe the baby was confused. I never mentioned anything to my husband until a few days later, when, as he was washing the dishes, he turned to me and said, “What about (insert the same name)?” My jaw dropped. Our sweet little baby had made it very clear what his name was and had managed to communicate with me and his daddy. I was amazed and overjoyed!
Does it sound too woo woo to you? You don’t need to have a magic wand or extra sense- try it in a way you feel comfortable about! Maybe you try going on a stroll and contemplate. Ask your baby and give them some time and space to reply, in their own style. Maybe a baby kick will be your answer.
I hope that you find these helpful! Download the free simple fillable printable 7 Steps to Your Baby Name.
Happy Name picking!
Please come back and share not only your beautiful baby’s name but your experience choosing the name! I would love to hear your stories!