Baby names: The struggle is real.

Seriously, deciding on the perfect name for your child is tough… and no one wants to make a life-changing mistake (no pressure!). Oh, and to add to that stress-inducing task, you’ve probably also got an endless list of other things to check off of your pregnancy to-do list (nursery decor, planning a baby shower, managing your heartburn, etc.).

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Deciding on a name shouldn’t be as stressful as people make it out to be. Think of it as a new kind of creative task — a marketing/branding project. And just like any task, everyone has their own process and end goals for ultimately landing on a name they feel will best suit their child. Whether that’s aiming for something traditional, giving a generational name that has been passed down through the family or opting for an up-and-coming creative name that’s so unique you probably (er, totally?) made it up.

With my second child arriving very soon — like weeks away soon! — this topic is at the very top of my to-do list. To help make this pressure-inducing decision more efficient, my husband Dave and I have created specific criteria we run through that have guided us in our baby name quests.


The following six checkpoints are what helped us come up with our first child’s name, Ansel, and are helping us narrow down our list of names for Baby #2 as well.

1. The Starbucks Barista Test: Basically, if we feel like it would get misspelled on a coffee cup, the name doesn’t make it onto our potential baby names list. You should be able to say it and easily see how it’s spelled in your mind. I struggle with this one myself as a “Brittany” — too often, my coffee cups read “Britney” (thanks to Britney Spears), “Brittney” or sometimes even “Brittni” — what?! My child should never endure such name shame ;)

2. Avoid the Too Trendy: When kids grow up, they don’t want to become the person at school with the too-popular name (i.e. our generation’s version of Ashley and Michael). So I tend to stay away from names that are currently having a moment or previously had a reign at the top of the baby name charts. My go-to name research site is Baby Name Wizard — their NameFinder tools are the best I’ve seen online thus far.

3. Personalization: Dave and I prefer to make our children’s names relate to US as a couple specifically. We try to find and think of names that merge our mutual interests — creativity and the outdoors, for example. Ansel falls right into this, as his name represents photography, creativity and iconic images of mountains and the American West. We’re using the same framework as we add name ideas to our list for our second child as well.

4. Career-Minded: You obviously have no idea what career path your child will take, so he/she needs a name that can work for all kinds of outcomes. I often ask, “Can this name work for both a future President or a future starving artist?” If the answer to that question is yes, it makes it to the next round. If not, well, you can guess where that name ends up. (And yes, in the back of my mind, I secretly hope I one day have a strong little girl who grows up to be the future President. But to each their own!)

5. Perfect in Pairs: For anyone who wants more than one child, you should always keep in mind how frequently you will have to be using their name back-to-back with another. As we’re thinking up names for Baby #2, we’re looking at lots of names that begin with vowels, as those tend to match better with “Ansel,” the name of our first son. Of course, you could always go with the theme direction as well. For instance, we’re debating naming #2 a name that also references a past creative icon, or something to do with mountains. If we go in that direction, I just hope we don’t have six kids, because we might run out of ideas after the first two or three!

6. Skip the Struggles: No one wants to be reminded of their ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, or any enemies from childhood. So this tactic basically eliminates all names that are associated with those negative feelings — no matter how original and in love with the name we may be. If it brings negative vibes, it’s out.

baby naming tips

So that’s it — six tips to guide you down the path to a better and more meaningful baby name. I hope it helps you on your own naming journey. And if you fail or realize you picked something really weird down the line, remember your child always has the ability to change their name. I mean, if Phoebe can do it, then anyone can do it ;)

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I personally can’t wait to share the name we landed on for our second child super soon! Stay tuned for updates on the labor and delivery front :)

What criteria do your potential baby names have to meet before deciding on the perfect one? Share them with me on Twitter.

(GIF via Tumblr)