Baby naming 101

Having a hard time choosing a name for your little of bundle-of-joy to be? Here is your crash course in baby naming.

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  • Having a baby means making a lot of decisions. As the parent to-be, everything from nursery furniture to birthing choices is solely your responsibility. In the midst of it all, take plenty of time planning your baby's name. The name you choose for your little one has far-reaching and long, long, long-lasting effects.

  • Unless you're a fabulously wealthy celebrity, it's pretty much a no-brainer not to name your baby Apple, Blue Ivy, or Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson. But what are the standards for us regular people? Hold on tight for Baby Naming 101: Your 10-point guide to not embarrassing your child for life.

  • Think about your child

  • Your kid will carry this name around his or her entire life. Let that sink in — his ENTIRE life. Plan accordingly.

  • Make sure others can spell the name

  • Every parent imagines their child as delightfully different. I'll let you in on a little secret: Children derive their unique qualities from their fabulous little personalities, not from a uniquely spelled name. Alternative spellings seem cute, but it's not fun to correct the spelling of your name 15 times a day.

  • Make it meaningful

  • Choose a name that you love, and possibly one that means something special to you. Special can come from a lot of different places, including family names, literature, history or a meaningful place. Anyone can pick a name from that year's top 10 list, but you'll cherish a meaningful name forever.

  • Think about your child

  • This is not your name. This is not backwards wish-fulfillment. Really, this is not about you. This is about the kid and the name she will have to live with forever.

  • Check for potential teasing

  • Give your kid a chance in school and avoid a name that lends itself to teasing. Think about possible nicknames, check for infamous name twins, and write out the initials, making sure they don't spell out something bad. After you've done your own checking, run the name by trusted friends and family. They may think of something you've missed.

  • Check the pronunciation

  • The pronunciation of a beloved name is obvious to you, but give the name to a few friends and see how they pronounce it. You don't want any surprises after you've already filled out the birth certificate.

  • Consider popularity

  • Some parents want to use a super popular name for their child. Other parents are looking for a one-of-a-kind moniker. Your best bet is probably somewhere in between. Aim for a name that is familiar but won't saddle your baby girl with being Jennifer Number 12 in her preschool class.

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  • Think about your child

  • Are you sensing a theme yet? Give every single name the "will my child hate me for this in 10 years?" test.

  • Gather opinions. Or not..

  • Think carefully about whether you want to share your potential name with others. You will get an opinion, guaranteed. If you're on the fence, getting others' input can solidify your choice. However, if you've settled on a name and have no intentions of changing your mind, you may want to keep the name to yourself.

  • Trust yourself

  • Kids have this magical ability to grow into their names. He will become his name and his name will become a part of him. As long as you love the name, no other rules matter. Other than rule numbers one, four, and eight. Trust me.

  • Congratulations on your impending arrival! Trust your gut when you choose a name, and try to have some fun. Choose a name that is at least semi-normal. Choose a name that is easy to yell. Choose a name that won't be embarrassing. Most of all, choose a name that you love.

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Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.

Website: http://moderatelycrunchy.blogspot.com

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