What’s in a name?

So, you have a birth plan, but do you have a name plan? Here is one mother’s experience of trying to hit the right notes.

Named on Google

My partner and I thought we had the right name for our baby very early on (it was the name I’d had planned since primary school), so, purely as a matter of curiosity I decided to Google it, complete with my partner’s surname.

Lucky that we did. Although the combination of first and family names sounded sweet and wonderful when spoken from our lips, it actually turned out that it was shared with one of the most notorious and violent criminals ever to come out of Australia. As you can imagine, we swiftly began thinking about an alternative.

Initial thoughts

As one friend told me over coffee, naming your child Peter Oliver Owens might seem like a perfectly reasonable idea until you consider what the initials spell out. Although this might seem trivial, it is important to remember that the word POO, when spoken by six-year-olds in Britain’s primary school playgrounds, will take on a life of its own. And do you want your child known as POO boy? I think not.

Similarly, you might wish to refrain from calling your daughter Ursula Grace Layla Yeats. An older friend of mine said that her son’s initials are GDP. She wondered if this explains why he is now studying economics, which neatly leads us to the next point.

Consider what a name can do

Nominative determinism is the theory that a person’s name actually influences what they do with their life. So, if, you want your son to grow up so wealthy that he can buy you a house in the south of France, why not call him Rich?

If you believe happiness matters above all other things, why not call a daughter Bliss or Felicity? And watch out: there are some beautiful names out there that actually have some less than auspicious meanings. For example, Leah means weary and Lola means “lady of sorrows”. My partner and I were going to call our son Byron, thinking it would be strong and poetic, then we discovered it means cowshed – and since my partner grew up on a farm, we just couldn’t run with it.

Try shouting it from the bottom of the stairs, again and again

“Cecilia, it’s time to leave for school!”, “Heath, your lift for football is here!”, “Martha, it’s time to come down for your dinner!”, “Gabriel, please would you get off the Playstation”!

Chances are that over the years you will call your child from the bottom of the stairs or a similar position in your home hundreds, maybe thousands of times. My partner and I practiced calling out prospective names in this way to see what they would sound like even when our parental patience reserves might be at their lowest – yes, angrily shouting certain names has the potential to ruin them for all time.

Remember that your baby will one day be an adult

During the rush of pregnancy hormones it is alarmingly easy to call a child a sweet and adorable name that may be fine in infancy but less so in later life. As such, if you want to call your child Teddy (as I did for a time), just make sure that it is short for Edward so that he has options come secondary school and adult life.

The same goes for Sunny (this was also on my list) – it could be short for Sunita or Sundeep but Sunny alone may not be ideal for your child if it experiences adult days when it has a somewhat gloomier outlook. The same is true for Bunny (yes, another on my list which my partner vetoed in no uncertain terms); it can be short for Barbara or Bernice, but is not necessarily brilliant when applying for a job.

Remember that your child will own its name

Don’t be put off a name just because for you it has negative personal associations. For example, your partner might love the name Joel (as mine did) but you might be put off it because you once met a Joel and he was a bit of a bore and a bully.

“Well,” argued my partner, “if you can get over that and call your son Joel, you will soon forget all about his unpleasant namesake. It’s a win, win.”

The same can equally be said of both common and uncommon names. Now, with a son called Xander and a daughter called Susie, I have experience of both. I can assure you that they each equally own their names and as everyone in our circle of family and friends is accustomed to them, neither name now seems boring or unusual.

My recommendation – don’t call your child something crazy, but don’t be afraid of being bold either. Eventually, your child will be in a position to truly make that name uniquely theirs, so trust in your instinct and name away.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted advice 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.
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