Welcome to the thrilling and mysterious world of parenting. Expecting a tiny bundle of joy means you’re about to discover the new and radically different world of baby names. Whether you’re set on classic baby names or you’re tempted by creative themes like athletic baby names or nature-inspired baby names, we’re sharing your guide to all that’s changed since every kid was named Jennifer and Jason.


1. Baby names have gotten a lot more adventurous.

In the era most first-time parents today were born, say thirty years ago, there were just shy of 20,000 baby names recorded by the US government. Today, there are more than 33,000. That 50+ percent increase means thousands more invented names, international names, words and places and surnames-turned-names. A third of all babies are getting names that didn’t even exist when you were born.

To give a specific example, in 1984, 11 baby girls were named Luna. In 2014, Luna was among the top 150 girls’ names in the US. And there were no baby girls named Arabella, but today, it’s the 174th most popular name. Only six boys were named Atticus, which is in today’s Top 400. You can choose names that — by the standards of your elementary school class — are unheard of, but in today’s lexicon, they might be ho-hum.

2. There are better resources to help you.

Your mom and dad probably didn’t have the benefit of the Internet when they named you. Today, you’ve got sites like Nameberry, which makes the simple act of searching through names — finding a name that’s Irish, unisex and means red, for instance — a 30-second operation, rather than a weeks-long challenge.

Not only does the Internet make it vastly simpler to sift through the thousands of possible names, but it also offers a way for you to discuss names and try out your choices with a huge community of well-informed name mavens on forums. Can you imagine trying to do the job with one slim baby name dictionary?

3. Everyone will try to give you advice about baby names.

Okay, you’ve probably already discovered that your friends love to talk with you about baby names. Your family also is dying to discuss name ideas, and that discussion might be loaded with a little more guilt and pressure. For instance, Grandpa’s not going to live forever, and could be at peace if only you would name the baby Stanislav.

Friends, family… maybe they have a right to try to talk with you about names. But how about the guy who makes your sandwich at the neighborhood deli? Do you really want to hear his opinion of the names Flora and Felix? Because if you tell him your name ideas, you certainly will hear it — and you might not like it.


4. You will probably argue about names with your partner.

Since your first date, the two of you have agreed on everything from what to have for that first, magic-infused dinner to where you want to spend your honeymoon. And so naturally, you expected your partner to agree with your well-informed and tasteful desire to name your baby Eliza if it’s a girl, and Edward if it’s a boy.

And yet, what’s this? He knew a priggish Eliza in sixth grade? He was bullied by an Edward at hockey camp? He wants to name your baby — what?!? — Marie after his mom or Mark after his dad?

No matter how compatible you may be in other ways, baby names tap into deeper issues of childhood and self-image, family and history and identity and style that may have been unexplored until now. Know that your arguments about baby names are really negotiations over deeper, more essential issues. Use them at a way to tease out those beliefs and discussions, and perhaps then approach names from a more open and enlightened viewpoint.

5. The name may be your last good secret.

You couldn’t resist telling your mom you were pregnant before you even missed your first period. The baby’s gender was a known quantity by the tenth week. Super-sensitive sonograms practically stand in for baby’s first portrait.

So has all your exciting news been blown long before the baby is even here? That’s where the Big Name Reveal comes in. As the last vestige of mystery, your name choice remains a secret to be guarded as closely as the President’s code name. For your family and your friends, the final name decision is the new version of yesterday’s “It’s A Girl!” Discuss possibilities, if you want. Make your final decision long before the birth. But if you’re looking to savor the secret, save your name announcement for after the baby is here. It might be the one great secret you have left.

Did you keep your baby’s name a secret? Got any more advice for parents? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

This post was previoulsy published on Nameberry by Pamela Redmond Satran. Photos via Getty.