6 things to keep in mind while choosing a baby name

When we were expecting our first baby, the whole thought of choosing a name for our first born seemed very exciting. My husband and I had decided not to find out the baby’s sex before birth as we wanted it to be an element surprise. But, for the fun of it, I would try the Chinese Gender Predictor to guess if it would be a boy or girl. Then of course, there were also my well-wishers and random people trying to figure out what baby I would have according to old wives’ tales. If my aunt said, “You’re carrying high, it’s a girl for certain” my mom would have a contradictory theory “No, she’s perpetually craving for salty food. There’s no doubt, she’s having a boy.” I didn’t take either of them seriously and continued my search for both boy and girl baby names .

I still remember vividly leafing through the big fat book of Indian baby names, while it rested on my big belly. Sometimes my husband lay beside me while I read the names aloud. If he said ‘yes’, mine would be a ’nah’. Or if he grunted, I would let out a squeal of approval. Though we never really came to a consensus, it used to be a lot of fun and we spent hours and hours discussing names. Suddenly, somewhere along the way, we forgot all about the whole business of picking a name, until we were compelled to hurriedly decide a name.   Finally the name we settled for came about in a very strange way, and that we’ll keep for another day.

The whole exercise of choosing a name for your baby is an awesome one. But it could get tiresome at times if you have no focus. If you just go about randomly looking for a name, it could end up in a ‘looking –for-a-needle-in-a-haystack’ exercise.

Here are a few pointers that could help you choose the right name for your baby

Having a clear direction can make things a lot easier:  It is important that you and your partner sit and discuss what kind of name you’re looking for.  Streamlining can put a lot of things in perspective.

For instance, if you looking for name starting with a particular letter, then short-listing will become faster. Sometimes parents don’t want to name their children starting with the letters ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ because they come way down in the alphabetical order.

Similarly, you could look at a category. You probably want to name your child after a celebrity or some God. Or maybe a name inspired by an Indian princess. Whatever it is you’re considering, put down your thoughts on paper and then start eliminating one by one. This way, you can narrow down your choices and come to a conclusion faster.

Keep it short and sweet: There are some names which are unique and uncommon. But what if they are a mouthful and people find it difficult to pronounce? Ultimately, the name gets shortened or scrambled, and the beauty is lost behind distorted versions. Mrinalini (lotus stalk) thus becomes ‘Miru’ and Pradyumna is shortened to ‘Prad’ (mighty)!! So, it’s really not a good idea to pick a name that has beyond two/three syllabus.

The problem with a common name: I remember, after the two beauty queens – Aishwaya and Priyanka – won their respective beauty titles, their names had become a rage all over India. Every other girl child was called either Aishwarya or Priyanka! Just imagine the confusion when someone in a crowd looking for her friend yells out for Aishwarya and a hundred other heads turn! It’s not only an embarrassing situation, but could take a while to spot the right Aishwarya.

But common names come with their own set of advantages too. One big advantage is that they normally don’t get mispronounced or mis-spelt. So your child can safely escape from the rigors of spelling out her name to people and explaining how to pronounce it.

Does it sound good with the last name: After you’ve frozen on a name, check it by saying it aloud a few times. Does it sound good? Is it easy to pronounce? Would you be like to be called by that name? And most importantly, does it go well with your last name? Normally, a longer first name sounds good with a shorter last name.  Also make sure that the ending of the first name and starting of the last name do not begin with a vowel. Then tend to run into each other and sound like a single name. (Veena Anant).

Know the meaning: There’s no denying that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but wouldn’t it be safer to know the derivation of the name before you finalize it? Sometimes, a name may sound unique, but when you check the meaning, you may not be all that happy. If you son “Aabheer” finds out someday that his name means “a cowherd”, he may not forgive you. That’s why it’s important to do some ground work. Remember, the name you choose is for life. So, it’s better to do  your research than regret later.

Involving too many people:  Asking your friends and family for opinions, will certainly open up several ideas. But the flip side to this is you may be forced to choose something that you may not like at all. Also, the chances of having a clash of opinions could be very high, especially when older people are involved.

Personally, I’d rather keep this whole affair a private matter and discuss it with my partner alone. It’s far less complicated and a lot more fun.

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