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Eight Things to Consider When Naming Your Baby

The first important decision when having a baby is what to name him or her. The following suggestions for parents to consider come from Bruce Lansky's book, Baby Names Around the World (Meadowbrook Press).

  1. Namesakes. Exact reproductions of a person's name, even if it is followed by Jr. or II, are often confusing to everyone involved. Namesakes can also lead to unfortunate name choices. Somehow the name Mildred just doesn't seem to fit a little girl as well as it does an eighty-year-old aunt.

  2. Nationality. If you choose a "foreign-sounding" name, be sure it's not unpronounceable or unspellable, or the name will be a burden to your child.

  3. Gender. There are two opposing lines of thought on names that can be given to boys and girls alike. Some parents feel that a unisex name allows them to pick a name with certainty before the baby's sex is known. Others argue that it's unfair and psychologically harmful to require a child to explain which sex he or she is.

  4. Sounds. The combination of letters in a person's name can make saying the name easier or harder. Alliteration, as in Tina Turner or Pat Paulsen, is fine, but such rhymes as Tyrone Cohn or Alice Palace invite teasing.

  5. Pronunciation. Nobody likes having their name constantly mispronounced. If you pick an unusual name, such as Genvieve (pron. Zhan-vee-ev), don't expect people to pronounce them correctly. If you choose a unique pronunciation of a name (for example, pronouncing Nina like Dinah), don't expect many people to get it right.

  6. Popularity. Some names are so popular you shouldn't be surprised to find more than one child with that name in your child's classroom. A child with a popular name may feel that he or she must "share" it with others, while a child with a very uncommon name is likely to feel that it is uniquely his.

  7. Nicknames. Most names have shortened or familiar forms that are used during childhood or at different stages of life. If you are thinking of giving your child a nickname as a legal name, remember that Trisha may grow weary of explaining that her full name is not Patricia.

  8. Stereotypes. Most names call to mind physical or personality traits that often stem from a well-known namesake. Some names - Adolph and Judas, for instance - may never outlive the terrible associations they receive from a single person who bore them.

Contributed by FeatureSource

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