One of the greatest moments that parents experience outside of meeting their little one is deciding on a first name.

You know, the one that feels right and makes your heart flutter at every mention?

But with so many baby names to choose from, how do you settle on just one, especially when you have two top contenders?

This isn’t that uncommon, and if you’re struggling to decide, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to make the process easier.

1. Practice Makes Perfect

Believe it or not, trying the first name out can be the easiest way to decide. All it takes is a few quick exercises. Test each name in everyday situations like:

  • Handwrite the names side by side. Does one feel more natural to write than the other?
  • Sign side by side. Does one catch your eye more? Sometimes switching things to cursive can really make a name pop.
  • Pretend to call your child by name from across the house. Throw in the middle name too, if applicable.
  • Use each name in conversation with your partner or loved ones. You may love Chloe, but Mia may feel more like your child’s name, especially if you pick up a nickname in conversation naturally like Mimi.
  • Sing happy birthday using the potential names. Happy birthday dear Monica may catch your ear more than happy birthday dear Arlene.
  • Picture each name on a Christmas stocking or birthday cake. If need be, test it out.

2. Follow Family Ties

Another great way to narrow things down is to turn to those in your immediate family. As a family unit, you’ll often be lumped together in conversation, so it’s a nice bonus if the chosen first name fits in well. Try the following to see how each name works:

  • Say all of your names together. How does it sound? Maybe you’ll like hearing James, Jessica, and Julia together more than James, Jessica, and Ella.
  • Say each pick with your other children’s names, if applicable. Practice introducing them together. Example: “These are our sons, Jonah and Josiah.” This can point out obvious issues like rhyming names or well-known duos. You might not want to have a Ben and a Jerry, for instance.
  • Write each name with your other children’s names. Do you like how they look together? Are there any patterns jumping out at you? Maybe Charles and Charlotte sound different, but they sure do look alike!

3. Check Out Popularity

This is especially important if you’re seeking something a little more unique. For example, while you adore Liam, you may not like how popular he’s become, making your second choice, Gavin, the ideal pick.

In addition to checking the current rankings, you should also check the popularity of a first name over a span of time. A spike in popularity indicates that the name is trending. If you’re stuck between Luna and Lydia, for example, Luna is currently on an upswing while Lydia is tracking down, making it more appealing to those looking to avoid a surge in popularity.

For those in the United States, you can also search for the Top 100 names in each state individually. This is important, as popularity in each state can differ greatly from the national chart. An example of this is Rivka, which is in the Top 100 in New Jersey, but not even in the Top 500 nationally.

A clever way to explore popularity is to check out customized items in a store (think things like mugs or bicycle license plates). Check the display for each name. Is either there? If you’re looking for a name that’s more common, this can be a fun deciding factor!

4. Flip a Coin

That’s right! If you’re truly stuck between two names and totally neutral, leave it in Lady Luck’s hand and flip a coin. Not only is it a great way to make the decision, but it’s an awesome story to tell your child one day. Stuck between more than one name? Try spinning or flipping something else like a wheel or dice.

If you’re ultimately disappointed with the name fate hands you, take it as a sign that your heart really was set on the other option. That might just be the final push you need to make a choice.

5. Meet the Baby

Though many parents like to be prepared with a name, sometimes meeting your little one is the only way to decide. Maybe she looks more like a Callie than a Keeley, or vice versa!

This practice isn’t all that uncommon either. Many cultures around the world wait until a baby is born to select a name. For instance, several tribes in Africa turn to the labor and day of birth to choose the final name with everything from the mood to the weather influencing the final pick.

6. Enjoy the Process

Above all, try not to lose sight of what’s important: a happy, healthy little one. It’s natural to chase perfection, but don’t let it bog down your journey. Chances are if you love both names enough that you can’t decide, either option will be great for your baby. Trust your gut and enjoy this time!