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Baby Naming Guidelines

Name Dropping

States differ in the amount of time they allow in recording name information. If, for any reason, you need time after your baby is born to finalize a name, you may want to contact the division of vital statistics in your state to see what the time limit is.

There are some rules, or generally accepted practices, when it comes to creating almost anything, but there are virtually none when it comes to the art of naming – in the United States, anyway. About the only thing that's required of you is that you do name your baby at some point, and, usually, sooner is better (although you will have a little time to think about it after your baby is born, depending on where you live).

The majority of parents have a name picked out prior to the birth of their baby. But many parents get to birth day without a name. Others find that the name they thought was so perfect prior to birth no longer is — especially if they've selected a name that's appropriate for one sex and they end up with another.

There may not be any naming rules or laws, but there are naming guidelines. Four of them, in particular, are very basic and very good to keep in mind.

Guideline #1: Please Yourself

Name Dropping

What should be the most important considerations when choosing a name? In survey after survey, parents say they stick to the basics, simply choosing names they like and like the sound of.

This is most important: Pick a name that pleases you. Remember, you – and your child – will have to deal with this name for a very long time. There's no way of guaranteeing that your little one will like the name you bestow upon him or her, so you might as well pick one that you like and can live with, because the chances are pretty good that there will be times when your kid will hate it.

It's the rare couple who doesn't get a temper tantrum or two at some point along the way from a little darling who just needs to blame his or her parents for any and all trauma associated with the burden of carrying whatever name he or she has. It doesn't even matter what kind of name it is, so don't think you're safe if you pick a common or popular name.

Your child's dislike of his or her name might make you angry, especially if you went through a lot of work to select it, and it can hurt you if you selected a name that you truly love. But you might as well face the fact right now that it's bound to happen. The good news is, most kids grow out of it or find something else to pin their problems on.

Along these lines, it's a good idea to put into place whatever filtering mechanisms you have when it comes to fielding naming suggestions from family members and relatives. You might be in a situation where either cultural or religious traditions will have a strong influence on the name you choose. Remember, the final decision is yours and yours alone, no matter how disappointed Aunt Mildred is that you didn't name your new son Milton after her deceased husband. (The same goes for well-meaning friends, by the way. Take their suggestions with a grain of salt.)

You'll find more on keeping family members happy, as well as on various naming traditions you may need to keep in mind, in Baby Names: Dealing with Family Demands.

More on: Choosing a Name

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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