Hi! My sister sent me the link to your blog after I found out I am pregnant with my first. I have been reading it frequently in my free time. The task of picking a name is completely overwhelming. I don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. We each wrote down a list of our top 5 girl and boy names, then showed each other. Our last name is Howard. Both of our girl lists had Miriam and Harper. And I like the combination of Harper Miriam (or Margaret, his grandma's name) or Miriam Harper, and we actually both really like the double H initials. But the girl names really aren't the problem.
We have NO idea where to start with boy names. Our boy lists had one name in common, which was Max, but I'm not in love with it. We both like Silas, but again, not in love with it. I suppose my question is, how do you even start the name process? I tried baby wizard, but I think I like too wide a range of names.My only dislikes for a name is that it can't be too unusual that he/she would have to spell/pronounce it for everyone (I had a difficult last name before I married, and that was a pain), and I would prefer it not to be top 10, though I don't mind top 100. We lean towards Biblical names, both of ours being slightly Biblical (mine Joanna, his Benjamin). But it's not a must. I like vintage and older names, but again not a must. I JUST DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START?Our initial lists had:I picked,SilasIsaacEzra (which husband immediately vetoed)MaxParker (wild card, I had to add a fifth)He picked,Connor (I vetoed)Donovan (I vetoed)MaxClay (I vetoed)Jarvis (I vetoed because all I think of is Ironman)Clearly, I'm a bit pickier and I veto more names than husband. Please help give us direction.Thanks so much!
This is a great topic for a group setting like this. I can tell you how I started, and other people can say how they started, and perhaps one or more of those ways will be ways that would work for you too.
The first baby has its own special challenges (I wrote a post just for first-time parents), because everything is wide open: you can choose from EVERYTHING, and for many people it's the first time they've given much thought to baby names. Even those of us who read baby name books to name our childhood dolls are in it For Real for the first time---and/or are seeing how different it is when there's another person saying, "Nope, no, no, nope, no way," etc.
I started by getting a baby name book that wasn't a baby name dictionary (as in, it was a book that didn't seem to be padding the list to get the biggest possible number on the cover: "1,000,001 Baby Names If You Count Algratroid and Grinn!!!") and going through it and writing down every name I could imagine considering. That is, if I found a name that I didn't think there was any way it would beat out the other ten I'd already written down, or it didn't seem like it fit with our style, but I still liked the name well enough to notice it, I wrote it down. I tried to work on it in short enough sessions so that I didn't start skimming.
This was time-consuming. But I did it in the early stages of the pregnancy, usually starting about 5 minutes after getting a positive pregnancy test, and it helped to get through those lonnnnnnng early months when it's all worry and very little action. And I wrote the lists in my journal, so it's fun to see some of the names I wrote down: "Dutch" for my firstborn, for example.
One reason I write down all the names instead of just the names that seem most likely is that sometimes seeing a large list of EVERYTHING I like can help me better narrow down what I REALLY like. Also, it gives the other parent a lot of names to cross off, so they feel like they're having a say. Also, it can be fun to use a not-quite-our-usual-style name as a middle name. Also, sometimes I would find that although I'd thought I liked one style, my list was mostly made up of a different style---or that whenever I went over the list, I was more drawn to a different style, or tended to cross out all the names of a particular style. (Also, I like baby naming, and so I tend to err on the side of spending MORE time doing it.)
For me, when I did the "make a big list and work from THAT instead of from the name book" idea, I usually ended up crossing out until I ended up with a list of about a dozen names that were real candidates. Then Paul would cross out or circle some. Then we'd get down to a few real finalists, and we'd start ranking them and I'd spend a lot of time thinking about it and check in periodically with a less-interested Paul to see how HE was feeling about the choices. Sometimes I'd add a new name to the list, or leaf through the name book some more. I'd analyze every name that came up in every book, movie, and TV show. I looked for more possibilities in the credits, or in celebrity magazines. I looked up names in the Social Security data base to see how popular they were. I went through the family trees to see if I saw anything interesting. (This stage drives Paul a little nuts. I try to courteously involve him as little as possible, just as I appreciate when he doesn't subject me to ALL the talk about the various advantages and disadvantages of each of several drill presses he's considering.)
I would also play little games with the names we'd narrowed it down to. Like, let's say I had Max on my list. I'd look in The Baby Name Wizard under the name Max, and see what she suggested as brother names. I'd pick my favorite of those five names and go look IT up, and then pick my favorite of THOSE five names, and so on.
Or if my list felt too short or nothing seemed quite right, I'd brainstorm to see if I could find names that had things in common with the name. For Max, I'd consider Sam and Jack because they were one-syllable names with the same vowel sound and general style. Then I might see how I felt about Gus and George, or about Matt and John. For Silas, I'd consider Simon and Elias. I'd see if I could put a finger on what it was I liked about the name, and then see if there were other similar names I might feel more decisive about.
If I were making a brainstorming list from your list, it would look something like this:
If this is starting to feel overwhelming and stressful, then this may not be the method for you. One of my friends does zero with baby name books, and instead waits for the name to occur to her. She's going along and thinks, "Adam. How about Adam? Yes, Adam. With...James. Yes, James, that would be nice, and that's my husband's grandfather's name. Adam James. How nice!" My mother-in-law was the same: Paul was named by that method, as was his sister. "Way more time and effort" doesn't necessarily pay off in a proportionately better name; in fact, it can lead to more stress and uncertainty.
Or you could do a shorter version of my method: instead of writing down EVERY name you even KIND OF like, only write down the ones you really like. Instead of then making the list longer, make it shorter: toss out the ones where you know you wouldn't choose that name over another name on your list. If you get down to a couple of names and neither of them feels right, THEN maybe try brainstorming for similar names.
With one of my pregnancies, we did something like this: I wrote down a list of a dozen or so names I really liked. I showed the list to Paul. He picked his favorite from that list. We used it. That was a good way, too. You could both make lists, and choose one or two or three from each other's lists, and make those into a new list.