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Challenge: Choosing Baby Names

On Choosing a Classic Baby Name

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Who is this little person growing inside Mommy? What will his or her personality be like? You won’t know until the bean is born and growing, and until then, the pressure of choosing a baby name hangs over you like the threat of rain.

Should the baby be a junior named after another family member? Who gets "second place" as the middle name? Why not choose a name from nature? There are too many things to consider, and lists only make it worse. Before my child was born, I had all these baby-naming fears and more, but in the end, I knew I had to choose a classic name for my kiddo.

Face Your Baby-Naming Fears and Go With Your Gut

As you go through the journey of choosing the baby name, there are baby-naming fears we all have to face. Even if your water's just broken and you still don't know the name, your gut will tell you the right one in the end.

Even if others don’t agree, your gut feeling is still often the right choice. When Kim Kardashian chose the name "North" for her kid, grandmamma Jenner was not a fan at first but eventually gave in and said she was "pro-North." Given the celebrity's status, North could be the next classic baby name. The name is certainly unique, but its simplicity gives it the potential to become a classic.

Other grandparents may not understand names like North. Because of this, some parents forgo tradition altogether and decide to keep their name choices secret. This can be especially stressful if your family has a strong tradition of using family names. But what if you're not naming your son after your father, or you and your partner want to name your daughter after a maternal grandmother? If both sides of the family favor family names, the situation gets even trickier. How can you possibly choose who gets the first and who gets the middle name? Someone is bound to feel left out or like you consider them second-rate.

It's okay to break the tradition — Kim Kardashian even skipped a middle name entirely. On the other hand, tradition offers comfort. But just because a child shares a name, that doesn't mean they will share the same personality. I wrestled with these worries when naming my daughter. I didn't want anyone to feel second place or forgotten, but at the same time I had to stand up and say, "This is my child, and she will be her own person."

A small group of trusted family members and friends or an online baby-naming forum may be helpful to test-run names and get feedback on pronunciation, spelling and meaning. They will catch pop culture associations and potential funny childhood nicknames, which fade over time — unlike classic names.

Finding the “Perfect” Baby Name

You’ll feel a tremendous pressure to pick the perfect baby name for everyone. Remember, the perfect baby name is the one your gut says is the right one:

1. Nature Names are Unique, But Not Too Unique

Some parents-to-be grew up dreaming of what they'd name their child, and they stick with those names. I loved nature names as a kid dreaming of her future family. River and Rain/Rayne were names that could work for any gender. I liked the way the R rolled. Nature names are unique without being too eccentric unless you name your child something like Apple or Cucumber.

Names that are too different may embarrass the child or be difficult for others to pronounce. Nature names strike the right balance. Beth, short for Elizabeth, is a classic name, but Brook is now common name too - but not so prevalent that your kid will be one of five children with the same first name in their kindergarten class.

2. Old-Fashioned Names Have Charm

There's Bessie, Regina, Magdalena and Gladys. Though some might say names like Gladys should be reserved for older women, there is an undeniable magic to old-fashioned names. Go back three or six generations and see what you find. Do you like Bartholomew? How about Claude?

I think old-fashioned names have class, and many are now uncommon enough to be catchy and chic. At the same time, they'll be familiar to older generations, so the grandparents will get what they need too.

3. Keep it Simple

Do older names sound too stilted or too complicated when you say both the first and middle names together? As much as I loved the idea of Isabella Regina, the combination sounded too formal, and the two names sound too similar to each other. So, I thought, why not go back to those nature names? Doesn't Isabella Rain have a lovely ring to it?

It's also easy to shout down the stairs, as you can easily create nicknames from it — Izzy, Iz, Belle or Bella. Belle Rain doesn't sound bad either, and it's got the added benefit of being classic and unique. When it comes to names, simpler is usually better.

In the end, I decided it was best to choose a classic name. Even with old-fashioned or somewhat unique names, the traditional, simple nicknames are a saving grace for those who struggle with pronunciation or the child not liking the name. If you like the sound of Magdalena but your child doesn't, they could go by Maggie or Lena. If you like Harold, there's the well-loved nickname Harry.

Going with whatever you consider classic, whether it's an old-fashioned name or an inherited one, is always a smart choice. In the end, it's best to go with your gut, but sticking with classic baby names is the perfect go-to when choosing a name for your kiddo.

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