What methods do people use to pick a name for their baby?

asked 16 Sep '09, 22:47

Mark's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

There was a suggestion that this should be a community wiki, but I think it's borderline. If the question was "What are your favorite baby names?" that would be community wiki, but this author is looking for a "method" of picking baby names, and may actually settle on one method to use, so we'll leave it for now.

(20 Sep '09, 11:09) Scott ♦♦

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We used the following algorithm. The first step is to find a bunch of names we both like, and write them up in a list. Sources can be:

  • Family names
  • Name books
  • Name sites
  • Names we just happened to know

Then, discard some of the names based on these criteria:

  1. Both parents should have complete veto power to remove names we don't like, even though the other parent loves it.

  2. Find a list of the most popular names in the area, and discard those. It's impractical with several people having the same name.

  3. Pronounce the names out loud, including surnames, and discard those that doesn't sound right. We had a firstname we thought was beautiful, but when we included our surnames the rhythm in the name became ridiculous.

  4. We use a combination of her surname and my surname for our children's surnames, and this combo is probably unique in the world, but I still googled their full name to check they're not someone infamous somewhere else in the world. If the kids surnames would be very common I would avoid regular firstnames, because it makes it harder to separate oneself in the age of Google.

  5. I'm a fan of short names, and just one. But I realize that there are people that like long names, and several. If you're going with multiple long ones, be aware that for daily usage only one will probably be used, and perhaps a shortened one. If you don't want your son to be called "Dick", don't give him the name "Richard Alexander".

  6. Use the usual spelling of a name. If not, your child will either have to spell it to everyone new, or accept it written incorrectly. Avoid mixing V, W, S and C, unless you want your child to be known as "Sindy with an S" rather than "Cindy".

Extra tips for those having twins like us:

  1. One will come first, but there is no use to constantly remind the one coming last that he did come last by giving the firstborn a name starting with the letter A, and the lastborn a name starting with the letter B.

  2. Don't give one of them a much easier/harder name than the other. If one is named "Bob", and the other is named "Charlie Christoffer-Alexander", Bob will inevitably be able to write his own name a lot quicker than the other.

When all rules are applied, hopefully there is a list of names that both parents like, from which we can choose from, but we do have one final rule. Our final rule was to ignore all of the previous rules if we both liked the name very much, because naming is extremely hard.


answered 23 Sep '09, 13:37

runaros's gravatar image

accept rate: 28%

edited 10 Mar '10, 15:21

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis


+1 for posting an algorithm on moms4mom. Bravo! :)

(24 Sep '09, 01:25) Scott ♦♦

+1 for mentioning Google. There's a reason no-one with the surname Hitler names their kid "Adolf" or why anyone grows one of those little mustaches, and this is 60+ year old history. Aka it would really suck to be named Michael Bolton (Office Space the movie reference).

(28 Sep '09, 01:58) kurtseifried

Updated to incorporate bryan's great answer.

(19 Nov '09, 03:49) runaros

Here's a useful site for determining the historical popularity of different baby names.



answered 29 Sep '09, 22:51

apollo42's gravatar image

accept rate: 100%

It was actually a single option, I love strange and original names, my wife loves traditional ones, so we were at opposite ends.

We ended up choosing Simón, that in Argentina is quite uncommon, without being all that strange.

If I ever have another boy, I don't know what I'll name him


answered 23 Sep '09, 13:52

JJJ's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

We had a page on the fridge with two columns (girl/boy) and we both wrote our ideas down and both had complete veto power to cross names of each other's list. That said, my son is one of three with his name in his school classroom. So, now I'd add to that plan, go to a playground or ballpark or other crowded place with kids and listen to the names you hear. Call out your favorite names and see how many kids turn to look!


answered 17 Sep '09, 12:30

My%20Kids%20Mom's gravatar image

My Kids Mom
accept rate: 33%


We also wanted to avoid the most popular names and went online and found a list of the top 20 names for boys and girls over the past few years and removed any of those from our list.

(18 Sep '09, 00:18) Tammy ♦♦

Go to any playground in the US right now and yell out "Madison" like she did something wrong and all the girls there will yell out "I didn't do anything" in unison.

(25 Sep '09, 15:37) Rob Allen

I wanted names that could not be easily shortened into nicknames (this was one of my main pet peeves growing up - being called Kimmy!). We also wanted names that weren't very popular - and while neither of our boys have run into other kids in their class with the same name, both of their names are gaining popularity. Now I'm pregnant with our third child (a girl) and I'm finding it harder this time. I still want the name to fit my other criteria but it also has to sound nice with everyone else's names. The boys both have Irish names so I wouldn't pick a French name for this one, if you know what I mean. Middle names we always pick family names.

There are lots of books and websites to browse.


answered 17 Sep '09, 13:24

MinJSD's gravatar image

accept rate: 16%

When we were picking names for our two daughters one of our main goals was to pick a name that was not very common, but use the USUAL spelling of it.

My name is not the normal spelling, which means I either have to a) spell it every time I tell it to someone, or b) accept that I will see it written incorrectly.

It is just one more thing to deal with in life that I wanted to spare my daughters.

So, that eliminates Jennifyr, Lili, Kathi, Salli, Khloei, Brandi, Madisyn, etc. etc.


answered 28 Sep '09, 03:10

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accept rate: 0%

I know how you feel. I've had people ask me "Are you sure?" when I spell my name for them.

(27 Nov '09, 14:13) Graeme

The Social Security Administration publishes a large database of Popular Baby Names for the United States going back more than a hundred years. We put the top ten on our blacklist in favor of more obscure names.


answered 29 Sep '09, 00:46

Calvin%27s%20Dad's gravatar image

Calvin's Dad
accept rate: 0%

We picked ours largely based on how they sounded with our last name. We also avoided any names that had ambiguous spelling or were fashionable at the time.

We also chose second names for each and they actually have more meaning. They are all family names of people from older generations and luckily we both had someone on each side of our extended families which matched.


answered 28 Sep '09, 01:15

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The late great Mitch Hedberg intended to pick a baby name by inviting over someone wearing a cast. :)

In seriousness though, it is tough. I come from a Catholic background, and it is important to many of those families that child have saint's name either as their first or middle name. I wasn't as worried about that, but, as a student of mythology, wanted to bring that in somehow. My fiance and I settled on Layla Rose. "Layla" actually comes from Middle Eastern folklore and was the reason for the Eric Clapton song. "Rose" sounded great with it (I just kept saying combinations out loud until I liked one) and makes my mom happy (St. Rose of Lima). :)

So, I think having parameters you'd like to follow is helpful because it cuts down the vast number of names out there. It takes some time, so I'm glad we started looking for names early on. However, we'll still screwed if Layla turns out to be a boy. The best I came up with there was "Alexander Maximus." ;)


answered 26 Oct '09, 16:07

Artemis's gravatar image

accept rate: 11%

+1 for the Mitch Hedberg ref! :) Also, I think it's neat how you incorporated so many different themes (what you do, and your family background) into the name choice.

(27 Oct '09, 00:49) Scott ♦♦

Thank you very much! :) I should also say that John (my fiance) and my dad both play the guitar, so it's nice to reference the song as well.

(27 Oct '09, 02:48) Artemis

I wrote a random name generator, but all that was really good for was a few laughs. We ended up just finding a site on the Internet with tons of names, creating a list of candidates, and whittling it down until we came up with the one we wanted.

It's not a sexy process, but it worked for us.


answered 16 Sep '09, 23:18

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Jon Sagara
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Could you tell me what the website is?

(16 Sep '09, 23:55) Tammy ♦♦

It has been several years, so I don't remember the exact site, but this ought to get you started down the right path: http://www.google.com/search?q=baby+names

(17 Sep '09, 03:33) Jon Sagara
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Asked: 16 Sep '09, 22:47

Seen: 7,970 times

Last updated: 06 Jul '10, 21:30