Baby names

The baby name test

How to make sure the baby name you choose is the one you really want. (Plus some ridiculously cute newborn pix!)

By Candace Alper
The baby name test

The baby name test

What's in a name?

Naming a baby can be stressful. For nine months, we comb through baby name books, contemplate meanings, come up with a short-list and then narrow it down to "the one" — the handle our child will carry around for the rest of his or her life.


So how do we make sure we won't regret the name we choose? Taking our Baby Name Test is a good start.

The baby name testPhoto: Mark Goddard/iStockphoto

The pronunciation test

How many different ways can the name be pronounced? It will be mispronounced that often (and then some). If the baby name sounds lovely the way that you say it, write it down on paper and pass it around to hear the many and varied ways that it could be pronounced. If it makes you crazy, take it off your list now.

The baby name testPhoto: clicknique/iStockphoto


The spelling test

The attention we give to the unique way that we spell names is at an all-time high. Jaxson will forever be spelling out his name, and he will likely never find his name on a pack of pencils. If this bothers you (or you think it might bother him) go with the traditional spelling. There are many ways that he can be unique over the course of his life.

The baby name testPhoto: artisticcaptures/iStockphoto

The waiting room test

In your lifetime, your name will be called thousands of times while you sit in a waiting room full of people: at the doctor, at a restaurant, at an audition, in a classroom. Consider the reaction the name would get in this scenario. The name “Jack” doesn’t turn heads and cause everyone in the room to look quizzically at you. The name “Apple”, however, probably will. 

The baby name testPhoto: artisticcaptures/iStockphoto

The business card, marquee, announcer, headline test.

Can a name sound presidential, artistic, academic and athletic all at the same time? Consider the world of opportunity that awaits your child over the course of her or his lifetime and ask yourself: “Does the name suit a  ____ ?” (Fill in the blank with any number of professions.)

Names that go anywhere, include Natalie Portman, Chris Martin and Jackson Pollock.

The baby name testPhoto: dosecreative/iStockphoto


The expectations test

When you name your baby after someone, you could be setting them up with great expectations. While we all want our children to be successful, happy and maybe even change the world, naming them after Oprah Winfrey, Barak Obama, Leonard Cohen, Steve Jobs or Ghandi is a lot to live up to.

The baby name testPhoto: ArtisticCaptures/iStockphoto

The gender-bender test

A current trend is giving names most often associated with the "other" gender or that could go either way.

There is no escaping grouping names according to gender. If you give your child a name that could go either way, you’ll always be adding, “Kayden is a girl, by the way,” or “in case it matters, Kelly is a boy.”

The baby name test

The nickname test

If a name on your short-list could turn into a nickname or short-form that makes you wince or cringe, take it off your list. It is inevitable. Benjamin is a great name, strong and classic, for sure. Nicknames that Benjamin will come across in his lifetime include (but are not limited to) Ben, Benji, Benny, Benjo.

The baby name testPhoto: GMVozd/iStockphoto


The initial test

Sometimes the middle name is all-important. Make sure that your child's initials do not spell out a word or acronym. Eric Andrew Thompson is a nice name, but his initials spell "eat." This won’t always be cute or funny.

The baby name testPhoto: Lloret/iStockphoto

The popularity test

While many parents are immediately turned off by a name that is “too popular,” consider that they are popular for a reason. They are strong, classic and often timeless names. For the most part, names that are popular pass all of the previous tests.

The baby name testPhoto: onebluelight/iStockphoto

More on baby names

The baby name testPhoto: jfairone/iStockphoto
This article was originally published on Sep 13, 2012

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