8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming a Baby

We’ll be having another boy and have begun the process of choosing a baby name. As the husband, I consider it my duty to screen names to make sure they’re not going to be easily made fun of. Of course some last names make that nearly impossible to do. I knew a guy with the last name of Butt. He said he got into a few fights each school year and then the kids left him alone.

Assuming your last name isn’t going to force your child to fight and in the interest of saving your child from having to, here are 8 mistakes to avoid when choosing the name.

1. Rhymes – Kids tease regardless the name, but giving them one with an unfortunate rhyme is like hanging a kick me sign on your kids’ back. For example, the name Bart rhymes with fart. Kids think that’s really funny. A friend of mine named Bart said he bonded with other guys named Bart because they all had to endure the taunts of “Bart Fart” in school.

2. Initials – Some parents don’t think of the initials until it’s too late. If your kids’ luggage will be imprinted with things like FAT, PIG, ASS or any number of other awkward initials, reconsider the name.

3. Bad memories – We’ve all had names ruined for us one way or another. Relationships gone bad, annoying kids in school or any number of other unpleasant memories we’d rather leave in the past. Don’t use a name that reminds you or your spouse of them, even if you like the name.

4. Cute – If your last name is McDonald, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, don’t name your kid Ronald even if you think it’s funny. Your child will hate you.

5. Celebrity overlap – This can be hard to avoid because you don’t know who will be famous in the future. It’s worth a quick Google search to make sure you’re not conflicting with any existing celebrities. I personally know a James Taylor and a Patrick Stewart. Michael Jordan, former CEO of CBS, has also had a hard time making a name for himself.

6. Gender – There are enough names available that it doesn’t make sense to torture your child with a name that’s going to make people assume the opposite gender. I know guys named Claire, Tracy, Kim, Marion and Stacy. They can all tell stories of people assuming they were females. This tends to be more of an issue for boys, but naming a girl Frank isn’t going to win you any points with your daughter either.

7. Too popular – Most kids like a sense of independence and individuality. Consider avoiding the most popular names. Granted, the reason they’re so popular is that people like them, but it can get old to always meet people with your name and to hear your name called in public areas when it’s actually meant for another kid.

8. Strange spelling – Most people have a hard enough time spelling regular names correctly. Don’t make it harder by concocting odd spellings of normal names. Mykal instead of Michael will just confuse people. Trying to get people to pronounce the name differently with an odd spelling usually fails too. People I’ve known whose parents tried to do that are constantly correcting mispronunciations.

Now that you’ve got the rules down, here are some sites to help you find the perfect name for your little tyke.

YeahBaby – You can search by gender, syllable, starting letters, ending letters, origin. The only annoying thing is once you get to the results page, the search selections are erased when you go back.

Nymbler – Choose a few names you already like and use them to inspire more names. It has a few stats for each name too.

Popular Baby Names as measured by the Social Security administration. It has the top 1000 most popular names in the US for any year back to the 1800s.

Baby Name Voyager – Scan through names ordered by year. The larger sections are more popular. Good for brainstorming and browsing names.

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