Does the name open up life opportunities or limit them?
Some names bring a certain type of person to mind, but other names travel. Will your name open up the chance for your child to be anything from a dancer, to a painter, to a banker to a politician? Will they be taken seriously in any or all of these roles with the name you like? Or does the name sound too cutesy and girly, too whimsical and comical or too hard and butch? In the UK names can also be a very strong indicator of social class.
Will the name last a lifetime?
Can you imagine a baby, a toddler, a teenager, a student, a twenty-something, a new parent, someone middle-aged, a retiree or an elderly person carrying the name?
Does rarity or popularity value matter to you?
Look up the top ten names from the past few years in your country to find out what is really popular. This matters if you don't want your child to end up in a class at school with three other children sharing their name. On the other hand, if it's a common name everyone will know how to spell it which can only be an advantage. You might be able to find a relatively rare name that you like that people know how to spell - maybe look at names popular in previous generations.
Is the name easy to spell?
Some names have developed lots of variants and spellings. Think Isabel, Isabelle, Isobel. It might be annoying for your child having to spell out their name for people every time someone else needs to write it down. This is particularly true if you are thinking of adapting the spelling of a name that has one dominant spelling e.g. Lucy a is very common spelling in the UK but Lucie is far less common.
Is your child going to live a cross-cultural or bi-lingual life?
If you and your other half are of different nationalities, and particularly if you are planning to bring up your child to be bi-lingual, does the name translate to the main languages and cultures where they will be spending time? If you and your partner are choosing a name in one language and living in a country that speaks another language it is strongly advised to find out what the name you are choosing means in the other language. I recently heard of a child whose English name means buttock in the country where they are living.
How many names?
You need to decide how many names your child will have. The norm is a first name and a middle name. Having more can sound quite posh. Some people don't see the point in a middle name as they are rarely used, although they can give the child options later on if they don't like the first name you choose.
Think about what acronyms the initials you choose might indicate. It's really hard to cover all bases here but it's best to make sure you don't end up with a swear word as the initials...
Does the name sound right with your surname or family name?
Say the name you like with your surname over and over again to check whether it sounds good.
When you sign Christmas cards or birthday cards with the names of all the members of your family, will they all go together nicely?
Ultimately, you need to remember that the name you choose for your child probably says a lot more about you that it does about them, although you will probably spend at least the next eighteen years trying to mould them into a person of whom you will be proud. However, people do seem to grow into their names. Even names that take you by surprise when they are given to a baby seem to be the only thing that person could possibly be called within a few weeks or months, so maybe the decision isn't so onerous after all.
Next time we'll talk about the process you might go through in order to choose a name.
Please leave any other ideas you may have about how to choose a name in the comments below.
Once you've chosen a name you might like one of my handmade personalised name pillows to put in the child's nursery. Click here.