Having trouble choosing a first name? These smart tips will help you pick a baby name that’s unique and perfectly suited for your baby.
Choosing your little one’s first name is an exciting task, as you’re giving a baby its very first gift—a name. Still, many parents feel a lot of pressure to choose the best name. To help ease any stress you may be feeling, we created an easy-to-use baby name finder. As you browse our baby name guide, keep in mind the following tips and tricks for choosing baby’s first name:
1. Discuss Wants and Needs
It’s important to know what you want in a first name before diving in. Baby names vary significantly, as do parents’ expectations. You and your partner should discuss the basics to establish a foundation like:
- Do you want to honor a loved one? If so, does it have to be the first name, or will the middle name spot work? What do you think about using a variant instead? (ex: Lucia instead of Lucy)
- Would you like to tie in your heritage? If so, you can search our baby name database by girl name origins or boy name origins.
- Are any baby names off-limits for you?
- How important is nickname potential?
Discussing your feelings from the start can avoid problems down the road and helps foster compromise, so you and your partner can ultimately choose a first name you’ll both love.
2. Look for Inspiration
If you’re ready to hit the ground running but aren’t sure where to start, check out our baby name lists for a wide assortment of first names. We have a number of dedicated lists, from biblical first names for boys to unique first names for girls. Each list includes picks that vary in popularity and origin, so there’s something for everyone’s taste.
Another strategy is to browse popular baby girl names or popular baby boy names to see what names and styles grab your eye. If you’re keen on a certain sound, you can also view the most popular baby names by letter.
Or, choose to sort your results by recent or all-time popularity. Of course, you can always browse baby names in alphabetical order, too.
But if you really don’t know where to begin, try the “Surprise Me” feature, which populates a random assortment of baby names. You never know: It may introduce you to a new and unique first name.
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3. Step Outside the Box
You may think you only like modern names like Paisley and Kenzie, but a vintage sweetheart like Sadie or Minnie might win you over.
There’s no harm in checking out other origins either, as gorgeous names come from all corners of the globe. You may adore Lily, but dislike her popularity. Why not consider the Polynesian princess Leilani? She’s similar in sound and has equally floral roots, meaning “heavenly flower.”
4. Explore Meanings
Every name has a meaning and exploring that is a great way to find a name you love. For instance, if you like strong boy names but dislike obvious picks like Valor, you might love Ethan since he means “enduring and strong.” In fact, there are hundreds of boy names that mean strong. With our database, you can search by meaning and narrow results by gender, syllables, origin, and more.
Meanings are also a great source of inspiration if you’re looking for something that fits your child — or children if you’re having twins. If you have a lively little one in the womb, a first name meaning “life,” like Vida or Eva, would be fitting. Similarly, if she’s calm, Salma or Arina could work—both mean “peace.”
5. Consider Your Surname
It’s important to ask yourself a few questions including:
- What surname(s) are we using?
- Does it eliminate any contenders? For example, you may want to avoid Michael if your last name is Jordan.
- Should you avoid any first names starting with a certain letter to avoid offensive initials?
- Should you aim for a certain number of syllables to avoid a name feeling too clunky? You can search our collection by the number of syllables if needed.
6. Narrow Down Contenders
Be sure to jot down each contender that you come across, as you will likely encounter a veto or two from your partner. Once you both have a decent amount of options on your lists, try these exercises to test them out:
- Say the first and last name together.
- Write the names out by hand.
- Introduce your child using each pick. (ex: “This is my daughter, Kylie.”)
- Practice calling your child by name from across the house.
- Use each name as if you’re on a job interview. (ex: “Hello, I’m Alexander Johnson.)
Each exercise brings the name to life in a different way and can weed out any names that don’t feel “right” for your little one. This can also be a helpful way to pick between top contenders if you’re stuck between two or three names.
How to Resolve First Name Feuds
Sometimes conflict pops up when you’re reviewing your lists. Maybe you don’t want to name your daughter after his favorite car, Chevelle, and he isn’t sold on your pick, Isabella. Can you compromise with Isabel or just Belle? Maybe Cherie or Chanel? You could also agree to use the favored name as a middle name instead.
If you’re still stuck, consider solutions like:
- Discuss the pros and cons of each name together. Whichever name has the most pros, wins.
- Use each name for a day in conversation. Sometimes this helps a clear winner emerge.
- Turn to family and friends for input. Sometimes outsiders can point out things you missed. (Example: You like Bonnie, but your son’s name is Clyde.)
- Declare no winner and eliminate both names if you’re both digging your heels in. Sometimes starting fresh is the only way forward.
- Guess the birth weight or height of the baby. Whoever is closest without going over wins and gets to use their favorite baby name.
When to Decide on a Name
Picking a baby’s first name is a huge milestone, but it doesn’t have to happen at any particular time. Some parents have a name picked out before conception, while others may wait until they see their little one for the first time on labor day. Both are valid ways to go about naming your child. Bottom line: Enjoy the process, and don’t rush yourself.
Should You Reveal the Name?
Deciding on a name is an intimate process. You are free to keep the name private or shout it from the rooftops. Either option is acceptable.
If you’re facing pressure to reveal the name, consider the following:
- Can you handle opinions? Seemingly everyone has an opinion on names and sometimes people can be hurtful with what they say.
- Will they be satisfied if you provide the initial only? (Example: Baby M)
- Can you reveal the first name and keep the middle name private? This may alleviate some pressure on you and give you a chance to perfect your pick.
Most importantly, don’t feel forced into sharing the name if you don’t want to. Even if you know the final pick, you’re free to shrug your shoulders and say you’re waiting to meet the baby.