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Naming your baby: Tips for making a decision

It's something you may have been planning since you were a child. In theory, naming your baby should be a heartwarming, memorable event. Yet for many parents-to-be, the experience can be more stressful than sweet. 

If you're struggling to nail down a name, don't sweat it. Eventually you'll come up with something that your little one will grow to embody. And if you're interested in some brainstorming tips, read on to get your ideas flowing. 

Find inspiration

It's easy to get stumped when you're trying to make a list all on your own. But inspiration for your baby's name can come from a variety of places. Try one of these:

  • Get a baby name book. The beauty of baby name books is that they incorporate a variety of modern, old-fashioned and multicultural names. You may find some options that you love and had forgotten about, and you'll likely discover others you never even knew you liked. Keep a running list as you flip through the pages. 
  • Make it a family affair. Naming your little one after a family member is a very traditional route, but it's one steeped in meaning. Think of a family member or dear friend whom you love and admire, and consider giving your baby their name. 
  • Give them some character. Do you have a favorite character from a book or film? Many parents find inspiration there. Down the road, it may be special for your child to discover the character they're named after and talk about it with you.
  • Open up a map. Did you fall in love with Austin during your road trip through Texas? Have you always dreamed of an Italian getaway to Florence? More and more people are naming their children after the places that hold a special spot in their heart. 

How to compromise

If you have a partner in the picture, it can be hard to pick a name you both love. Like many other milestones in a relationship, sometimes it comes down to a compromise. Here's how you can work together:

  • Listen to each other with respect. Instead of working on ways to convince your partner that your name is the right name, try listening to their thoughts. Sometimes just feeling like they're being heard makes it easier for people to compromise. 
  • Don't take it personally. Just because a name holds a special space in your heart doesn't mean it does for your partner. It's easy to get your feelings hurt if they're quick to brush it aside, but keep your cool and be honest about why it means so much to you before starting the dialogue again.
  • Create a process of elimination. Ask your partner to come up with a list of their 10 favorite names and do the same for yourself. Swap lists with your partner and cross off the ones you don't want. Then compare lists to see what you both can be happy with. 
  • Take turns. If you're planning on having more than one child with your partner, consider taking turns naming your children. Maybe you'll name your first child and your partner will name the next. If you're planning to stop at one, then have one partner choose the first name while the other chooses the middle name.

A few final tips 

When it comes to baby names, everyone's tastes are different. Sometimes a well-meaning relative, friend or co-worker can have one too many opinions on the name you plan to use. 

If you come up with a name before the baby's born, you may want to keep it to yourself until the baby arrives. That can save you from any unwanted advice. 

And while this may feel like a stressful decision, take heart. You don't need to force a decision right this second. Sometimes it helps to wait until your baby is born to decide.

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Reviewed 12/19/2023

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