How to navigate the baby naming game

Even though I have long since named my babies, I confess I’m addicted to lists of baby names and what people choose to call their children.

Whether it’s something old fashioned – Silas for the new Timberlake baby – or traditional – supposedly Alice or Charlotte for the latest royal baby, I love a good chat about a baby name. However, when it comes to the naming game I am constantly amazed at two things: (1) How rude people are about other people’s name choices and (2) The importance everyone now attributes to a ‘good’ name.

My daughter is named after my favourite aunt but unfortunately she was also born in the midst of Twilight fever.

Back when I named my first child I hadn’t really thought about the fervour and judgement around baby naming until I chose the name Bella. My daughter is named after my favourite aunt but unfortunately she was also born in the midst of Twilight fever.

This led to immeasurable amounts of people asking why I named her after a vampire. Also in choosing the diminutive Bella, I’m always being asked (sometimes quite rudely) why I didn’t opt for the proper version of Isabella or Arabella or Annabella?

With baby number two I toyed with a variety of names, and then foolishly asked for opinions. Responses included “Yuck not Isla – that’s vile.” “Saorise? What? How do you even say that?” “Iris – that’s a joke right?”

Friends have had similar experiences, one being told her child would be laughed at if she lumbered him with such a rubbish name (it was Hayden) and another being told that a survey said the name she’d given her son (Cameron) made it ten times more likely he’d be a troublemaker at school.

So, why all the meddling in what was once a personal parental decision? Well according to statistics baby names have taken a new status in our culture with baby naming books surging in sales, Google searches showing sharp inclines in baby name searches and a national if not global obsession with believing that a name make us who we are, hence the drive to find a name that’s different, cool and unique.

It’s one of the reasons why Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad names are currently trending, and why there are even trend forecasts for names (Nordic and weather related for 2015 in case you’re wondering).

Baby names have taken a new status in our culture with baby naming books surging in sales

On top of this there’s the simple fact that naming a baby is hard. What if you choose the wrong name (my goddaughter went through three name changes before her name was registered)? Or your child grows up to hate the name? Or worse still you choose a name that later becomes laughable?

The risks of getting it wrong seem huge and aren’t helped by the large amount of so called studies supposedly proving that a child’s future success relates to his/her name.

The good news is if you’re currently trying to choose a name is that I think the key to picking one is relatively easy. First be rational with your choices (cool now doesn’t mean cool in two years). Next choose a name that you like saying because let’s face it you’ll be saying it A LOT.

Lastly if you want to make a name special, then just choose a name that has meaning for you. Ironically beyond that, the one sane and scientific study around names perfectly sums up the naming process.

The effect of a name on its bearer rarely amounts to more than the effect of being raised by parents who would choose such a name!

Which means, whatever you choose and whatever the outcome, it will all be your fault anyway!

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