What to Consider When Picking Baby Names

Picking out a baby name can be the most fun or the most frustrating part of welcoming a child into the world. The guidelines on this page should help.

Do you really want an unusual, uncommon, unique name for your baby?

In spite of living in a very modern world, in recent years, there has been a renaissance of retro names, including names from the Old Testament, Victorian-era names, and names from the early west. There is also a trend at using newly-invented names, such as some of the names on our list. When it comes to naming your baby, are you a traditionalist who loves the classic names, a free spirit who wants to dream up a unique moniker, or do you fall somewhere in the middle? If you are tired of the same old names and want something more unusual and unique than David or Susan, then you’ve come to the right place. Try our list of unique baby names.

Guidelines for Choosing Baby Names

The article “How to Choose a Name for Your Baby” gives ten points to consider in addition to how popular or unique a name is. The following is a summary of her helpful tips:

  1. Write out the initials. You may want to make sure that you aren’t giving your baby initials that spell something rude or odd such as Aaron Simon Samuels or Claire Octavia Wilson.
  2. Think about the nicknames. Take a look at all the potential nicknames people could give your child and make sure you not only like them but that you feel good about how they match with your last name.
  3. Consider sibling names. You may want to give your children names that all have the same first initial or names that sound well together since they’ll often be said in the same breath. Plus, it may be difficult to explain to your kids why one has a super unique name (say, Zaphon) when his brother’s name is Bob.
  4. Be careful with meanings. Some states and countries actually have laws that prevent you from naming a child anything that is considered a historical problem, like Adolf Hitler or Satan.
  5. Give thought to the uniqueness. Unique names are creative and fun. But, a name that is too unique can be tough to get through life with. If it is too difficult to spell or pronounce, others may avoid saying it. The child may have to repeat it and spell it out over and over again.
  6. Check for multiple spellings. You may not be sure of a specific name, but when you change the spelling, it can make all the difference. It can also make a difference in how easy or difficult it is for your child to spell and explain.
  7. Check for similar names. A similar name may strengthen your case for the name you love or make that fringe name seem more acceptable. It can fix an issue with initials, meaning, or nicknames, too.
  8. Add a little diversity. If you aren’t sure about a very unique name or a very traditional name, balance it out with a middle name. Pick a conventional name for the first name and a unique name for the middle name, or vice versa.
  9. Don’t be afraid to change a tradition. Some last names have made their way into the world of first names (Lennon, Avery). And, some boy’s names are becoming more and more common for girls (Hayden, Jordan).
  10. Realize your geography may matter. You might love a name that is geographically bound, perhaps to a local celebrity or location. But, it may be looked at differently in different areas of the country or the world which may bother you or not.

Last Names

In addition to choosing your baby’s first and middle names, you also have a choice when it comes to your child’s last name. The norm in many Western societies is to give the baby its father’s last name, but you are not obligated to do so. You can even make one up if you want. Most states have no rules about last names. However, in Florida, if unmarried parents can’t agree on a baby’s name, it receives both parents’ names hyphenated, in alphabetical order.

If you decide to give your child a last name other than the father’s name, be prepared for the confusion it will cause. People may think your child’s father is not his/her father, or that your child is adopted.

Want to try a different last name? Consider the following:

  • Use mom’s last name. Some parents choose to give their child the mother’s last name. If this is too different for you, consider carrying on the mother’s last name as the child’s first or middle name.
  • Combine mom’s and dad’s names. Give your child both the mother’s last name and the father’s last name with a hyphen in between. Some parents give their baby both last names without a hyphen.
  • Make up a completely new last name. This may be a little bold, but many actors and celebrities take on new names when their birth names don’t fit their celebrity personality.

Back to the list of Very Different Baby Names