With choices in baby names galore, your head may be spinning with where to begin for choosing a baby name. If you are struggling to choose a baby name, here are some tips you can use alongside our Huggies Baby Name Generator for baby name ideas. We cover what to consider before picking a baby name, and where you can draw support and inspiration from.
Laura Wattenberg is the author of "The Baby Name Wizard" books and creator of namerology.com. On an episode of NPR’s Life Kit podcast, she says there is no such thing as a common name today, which can help take a little bit of pressure off. “Today, the culture is more about standing out instead of fitting in, and the options are limitless.”
Where to start
Start by eliminating names either you or your partner don’t like. Discuss names together to come to an agreement, as both of you liking the name is important.
You could write down all the possibilities down on paper and see if there are any patterns.
Think about what your experience has been with your own name, how you felt responding to your name.
Inspiration for choosing a baby name can be found everywhere, from a billboard you see, a song you hear, a classical name you may hear of in a TV show, to a shop, where you may hear another parent calling out the name of their child. You can start paying attention to these and thinking about how such names feel and sound to you.
Factors to consider
How does it sound out loud
It’s important to think about how the name sounds and what it means, and how this may impact your child who will live it for their whole life. According to recent research around the science of sound symbolism, some words sound better than others. In the UK it was found that the baby names that ranked the most highly, provoked the most positive emotions when spoken out loud and therefore are likely to sound most beautiful to the human ear. British baby website My 1st Years partnered with Dr Bodo Winter, Associate Professor of Cognitive Linguistics using the linguistic theory of iconicity and Adelman et al. (2018)’s study on sound symbolism.
From this study, in the UK and US, Sophia was found to be the most beautiful sounding girl name. For boys, Zayn was most popular in the UK, while Matthew came out on top in the US.
It’s a good idea to say it out loud to test the rhythm and see if sounds good with your surname.
Some tips on sound:
- Longer first names tend work better with shorter surnames, or
- Shorter names can work better with long first names.
- Ending the first name with a vowel when the surname starts with a vowel, like Amelia Earhart, which can sound like the names running together.
- also avoid names that rhyme, or that can be easily turned into a joke.
It’s also ideal to consider how difficult it is to pronounce as you will want your child to be easily identified when needed. Your child may not like to constantly be called something different to how their real name is pronounced and constantly needing to correct people.
Does it pass the playground test?
Consider how the name and surname sound altogether and ensure that together, they don’t sound like a word that kids will make fun of.
Ease of spelling
It’s also helpful to ensure the spelling is not too difficult for others to spell or that it’s a name that’s easy to get wrong. Consider when they may need to spell out their name to others.
It can be advantageous to choose a distinctive name for your child to promote their individuality and make them stand out in a crowd. Think about how it might feel to be among three people with the same name in a class. A popular way of making a name unique, while still using a traditional name, is to either shorten it, change the spelling slightly or pair it with a middle name.
Input from relatives and friends
Many parents choose to name their babies after a grandparent, other relative, or close friend. You could also ask them for ideas, and their feedback may be helpful, or even just seeing whether they can say or spell the name easily.
Cultural, heritage or religious
There may be cultural or religious considerations. Instead of seeing these as limiting, they can help guide you to a suitable name.
What may be more important than trends is the meaning of the name, thinking about what may be appealing depending on what is important to you and your partner, as well as how you think your child may take to it when they get older and understand the meaning of the name.
Consider what their initials will be when spelled out and if it becomes a not so desirable word or acronym. For example, your child will not be happy to find what the initials for Zoey Isobel Thornton spells out.
If you and your partner can’t decide
You could find middle ground by using one of the names as the middle name.
Take your time
You don't have to name your baby right away. You can wait until you see your newborn baby and decide based on what feels right in that moment. In most Australian states and territories you have 60 days to register your baby's name.
Try the Huggies Baby Name Generator to find the perfect name for your baby. With thousands of names to choose from, be inspired by popular, unique and original baby names.
Wattenberg, Laura. 2005. The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby. NY: Broadway Books.
Written by Tracey Cheung, April 2023. Tracey is a freelance writer with particular interest in writing about topics that promote health and wellness in the community. As a mother she has personal experience in writing content that helps other parents.
Last Published* February, 2024
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.