How To Choose A Baby Name You Won't Regret

✔ Research-backed

A name fosters a sense of identity in an individual. Therefore, parents ponder over the question of how to pick a baby name, they research, go deep into the details of the name, and consider various familial obligations and traditions. When selecting a name for your child, you weigh your religious beliefs and cultural aspects. In addition, you might want to know the legal aspects as well because various countries have their naming conventions and laws that need to be followed. For example, though the US does not have stringent naming rules, it has banned names such as Misteri, Jesus Christ, Judge, Duke, and King (1). Similarly in New Zealand, the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act of 1995 stated that certain names are not to be used because they might offend. A few of these names are Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii, Sex Fruit, Lucifer, Messiah, and 4Real (2).

While we cannot say why a parent would choose such names for their little darling, the fact that they are banned means something. Choosing a respectful and thoughtful name for your child can help them grow up with confidence and dignity, free from unnecessary legal and social challenges. Therefore, before you begin your search, read this article on how to choose a baby name that will make your child feel proud of your selection.

In This Article

How To Pick A Name For Your Baby?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a name for your baby boy or girl. The meaning and significance of the name, how it sounds, and its potential nicknames. Consider how the name would fare 20 to 30 years from now. You can even take inspiration from your ancestors and other family members, your culture and traditions, countries or cities, pop culture, religion, and more.

Laura June, a new mother, struggled to find a name that matched their tricky Eastern European last name, Topolsky. After discussing with her brother-in-law who suggested she go all out with the name to match their last name. Laura elaborates, “I’d never thought of it in that way, really. We had a few odd names, but for the most part, simple, quiet names dominated our very limited list… Josh and I had flirted with names that started with Zs for a while: Zora we liked because it sounded like an alien name; we discarded Zara because of the brand. The week before she was born we sat on the couch. I was so fat I could barely breathe. “Zora June,” I said to myself, looking at the books on their shelves in front of us. “It’s pretty good,” Josh agreed. “What about Zelda?” I asked. We talked it over. It was big; it sounded good; it was classic but unpopular; it worked well with the middle and surname; and it was unlikely that there was another Zelda Topolsky out there in the world. Still, we sort of put it off.” (i)

1. Family names

Many cultures across the world take inspiration for baby names from their family. For example, people follow Arabic naming conventions in North Sudan, where a person’s given name is followed by their father’s name and then the grandfather’s last name (3). However, in Mexican culture, a person would have a personal name followed by his paternal last name, and then the maternal last name (4).

2. Cultural or ethnic names

Choosing a cultural or an ethnic name can be a slightly sensitive topic. Before you decide on a name, do your research to understand the significance and association of the name in certain cultures and contexts. In this case, the pronunciation of the name is of utmost importance. Discussing the name with your family can give you deeper insight into your heritage as well. Ensure that the name you choose does not offend other cultures.

3. Place names

Place names hold a special place in the naming list. Choosing a city, state, or country name can be a meaningful way to connect your child to a place or a memory. It can be inspired by a hometown, a favorite travel destination, or a place where memorable experiences were shared. However, that being said, it is important to do your research on the meaning and origin of the place’s name.

4. Names from pop culture

It is not uncommon for parents to choose names inspired by their favorite singers, TV actors, characters from books, athletes, and activists. A few examples can be Taylor Swift, Jenna Ortega, and Ryan Gosling. However, it is important to consider that such names will carry specific associations with the person they were inspired by. Parents need to research the person, their values, and impact to ensure the name reflects qualities they admire and wish to bestow upon their child.

5. Religious names

Different religions may have various traditions and practices regarding the naming of children. Religious names may be inspired by certain gods and goddesses, characters from holy books, and revered figures within the faith. For example, Hindu families may prefer names such as Krishna, Lakshmi, or Vaishnavi, inspired by their religion. While Christians may take inspiration from the characters in the Bible like Mary. These names are profound because they can symbolize faith, devotion, and cultural heritage within a religious community. When choosing a religious name, parents can consider the value and teachings associated with the name.

6. Other popular categories

There are a variety of other names not limited to the above-mentioned categories. For example, in India, in certain cultures like Hindus and Jains, names are often chosen with the help of an astrologer who chooses the names according to one’s lunar constellation at the time of birth. In Chinese culture, balance and harmony are important. They often take inspiration from nature and the five elements. Baby name inspiration is everywhere if you look close enough. It is in the seasons, flowers, animals, birds, trees, history, astrology, colors, and even abstract things like virtues. There are endless possibilities for finding a name that resonates with you and your family’s values.

Religious Considerations And Naming Ceremonies

Religion plays a big role when choosing names for your little one. Each religion has its specific traditions, rituals, and guidelines. Before choosing a religious name, consult with your pastor, priest, imam, rabbi, or any religious leader about your customs.

1. Christianity

Naming ceremonies or procedures differ from one religion to another. In Christianity, the naming ceremony is known as a baptism. It is predominantly practiced by Catholics and even a few Protestant denominations. A baptism is conducted by sprinkling water onto the infant’s head or immersing them in water. This acts as a symbol of purification or regeneration (5).

2. Hinduism

In Hinduism, the naming ceremony of the baby is conducted on the 12th day after birth and is known as the Namakarana or the Namakarana Samskara (6). However, this ritual differs in different regions. For example, in Nepal, the ceremony is known as Nwaran and is celebrated on the 11th day after birth. While in Kerela, the naming ceremony occurs on the 28th day, also known as the Noolukettu, or tying thread.

3. Islam

In Islam, the name is decided by both the mother and the father, and the naming ceremony occurs on the seventh day after birth. On this day, Aqiqah takes place, whereby sheep are slaughtered and distributed among families and the poor (7). However, if the father is unable to perform the Aqiqah, he may do so in the future.

4. Judaism

In Judaism, baby boys are named on the eighth day after birth, and girls are named within the first two weeks. For a boy, he is immediately named after entering into the covenant of Avraham Avinu (8). It is a common practice to name girls when the father is called up to the Torah or close to the girl’s birth (9). In recent years, simchat bat is a ceremony that is becoming common among Orthodox Ashkenazi communities.

5. Wiccans

Among lesser-known religions such as the Wiccans, the Wiccan name is chosen in the initiation ceremony. This name is not used as a given name by everyone but only among other Wiccans in religious gatherings. Since the Wiccans are different from other Abrahamic faiths, the naming ceremony is not perceived as a cleansing ritual (10).

Whether through ceremonies like baptism, Namakarana, Aqiqah, or simchat bat, these rituals help bestow a name that is rich in spiritual meaning and connect the child to their faith and community.

15 Tips To Consider When Naming Your Baby

Choosing a baby name may not be an easy feat, but we have a few tips to help you navigate potential challenges.

1. When you decide on a name, keep in mind if the name is suitable for a grown adult. Some names are adorable for your baby, but what about when they grow up and have kids, career, and family?

2. You may come across a name with a sound or pronunciation that you adore. However, before making up your mind, try to say it out loud. Say it over and again, pair it with your last name or your child’s potential middle name. Trial and error can help you choose the best one.

3. Before choosing any name, research the meaning, origin, and associations of the name. You would be surprised by how much you can uncover.

4. In the world of LOLs and LMAOs, make sure you check the initials of your child’s name. They notice everything and you do not want them to be embarrassed by their initials.

5. The popularity of a name is an important factor to consider. A personal name is enduring, and while some parents go for trendy names, keep in mind whether that name will still sound appealing 30 years from now.

6. Consider the spelling and pronunciation of the name. Of late, parents are coming up with creative ways to spell names that have been there for ages. Think of your child too, it may be slightly annoying for them to correct people on how to pronounce and spell their name. Research the spelling variations of the name before you decide on which one you would like to pick.

7. It is not uncommon for families to take inspiration from their family members. If you wish to honor your parents or one of your family members by bestowing your little one with their name, that can be a good choice too.

8. Nicknames are a part and parcel of given names. Think of all the possible nicknames you can come up with. This can help you decide whether the name is a suitable choice for your child.

9. It is important not to let a name drive a wedge between you and your partner. It can be difficult to agree on a name you both love, however, you can take time to think and avoid unnecessary conflict to ensure both of you are happy with the choice. Remember, this is a name both you and your partner will call your little new family member.

10. Your child is the apple of your eye, and you may wish to choose a special name. However, think of your child in a workplace or educational setting and ensure the name is dignified and not embarrassing.

11. Many parents forget to consider the length of the name. In some states of the US like Iowa and Massachusetts, there is a limit of characters in a name due to technological limitations associated with its electronic data systems (11).

12. Do not choose a name simply because it is unusual or rare. Many celebrities have done this to make their child stand out, but it’s important to consider the long-term implications. A unique name can be a source of pride, but it can also lead to unnecessary challenges or misunderstandings.

13. It is quite common to see unisex names today. However, not everyone is a fan. When choosing a name for your baby, consider how well it will suit them as they grow up. For instance, a unisex name like Courtney might not feel fitting for a grown man. It may sound good while they are young but it might be awkward for them.

14. Family members may pressure you to choose a certain name or they may try to tell you your choice is not the best. Remember to not let yourself be swayed away from choosing a name you love.

15. After considering all your options, make a list of the names you are truly drawn to. It can help if you come up with the top three names, however, you may decide on which one to go with after you get to know your baby for a little while.

Discover More Names

When you have to choose a name for your baby, a few hundreds of names may not be just enough. Keep digging our mine of baby names until you find that one precious gem.

Knowing how to pick a baby name is important and can benefit you significantly. Keep in mind that whatever name you choose, your baby will grow into it and make it their own. However, it will always be helpful to choose a name that is more on the positive side when it comes to meanings or associations. Additionally, your baby’s name should be one that both you and your partner favor. Lastly, imagine how the name would sound if your child’s teacher calls them in class, or in other social situations. Would you be happy to bear the name you’ve chosen? This can be one of the easiest ways to decide on a name and you will know in your heart when you come across the right one.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Can a Person’s Name Be Illegal? The How (and Why) Behind Banned Names.
  2. These 71 names were so bad that New Zealand had to ban them.
  3. North Sudanese Culture.
  4. Mexican Culture.
  5. What Is Baptism?
  6. Namakaranam.
  7. Rites At The Birth of a Child.
  8. When a Boy Is to Be Named.
  9. How and When a Girl Is to Be Named.
  10. Wiccans Welcome Children Into the World With Blessing Rituals.
  11. Carlton F.W. Larson.; (2011); Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights.
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Benidamika holds a masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Assam Don Bosco University and another masters degree in English Literature from North Eastern Hill University. At MomJunction, Benidamika writes on human psychology and relationships. Her academic experience in counseling psychology helps her guide readers with useful and well-researched information. The former school teacher is a poet, with her work full bio