Choosing a name is one of the most exciting yet potentially most difficult decisions once you find out you’re expecting a baby. Whatever you go with will be how your little bundle of joy will be known for the rest of their life, so choosing one is an important job, to put it mildly. Some people immediately know what they want to name their children – some have had names lined up for years, but plenty of others have no idea where to start. If that sounds like you, this is the place to be! Let’s have a look at some of the things you can take into account, so you have the best chance at picking something you love, works for your child throughout the years, and looks good when you write it on their dummy holder or drink bottle!


The meaning of a name is hugely important to a great many people, so if you’re one of them, you’ve probably already taken this point on board. And if you aren’t? It’s still interesting to see what the names you have on your list mean and where they come from. This can also be a tiebreaker category – if you’re stuck trying to choose between two or three names, checking the history and connotations around them can really assist you in narrowing it down. The meanings of some names can add a level of significance that upgrades them from merely appealing to being the perfect one.

In a similar vein, rather than the literal meaning, there might be names that have special meaning to you. That might be a particular cultural or family name that holds importance for you, and bestowing such a name on your baby can be a truly remarkable experience.

How does it sound?

This applies to both the name itself as well as how it sounds when paired with your child’s family name. Do they flow well together? Many people tend to want to avoid names that rhyme, so if that sounds like you, be sure to avoid that if possible. How does the name itself sound? Another common thing people like to look out for is syllable count – if you already have a long family name, some prefer to choose a shorter given name. Likewise, if your family name is short, some parents like a longer given name to balance things out – and longer given names are often very easily shortened into nicknames if preferred.

And speaking of nicknames, some are much more commonly used than others – if the name you’re thinking of is frequently shortened into something you are not as fond of, think about whether you would be happy having your child named that – because a name that can be shortened, in all likelihood will be.


Trends and popular names

This is one that, even more than the others, very much depends on which side of the fence you fall on. Some love the idea of their child having a popular name. Others can’t think of much that would be worse. Whichever way you lean, it can be worth looking at the popular baby names around you. Most regions have something that will let you know what is currently popular. In New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs publishes an annual list of the 100 most popular baby names based on registrations. You can see the trends over time by looking at the full lists (back to 1954). They can also give you some ideas as to what’s popular now, ten years ago, or fifty years ago – especially handy if you’ve been struggling to come up with any name at all!

Ask for ideas

Never underestimate the imaginations and suggestions of your friends and family. While they don’t have to have the final say – that’s up to you, after all – asking what sorts of names those around you like can open up a whole new lot of ideas. A name might be suggested that, even if you don’t like that particular one, could lead to you thinking about a similar one that had escaped your attention until that point. Sometimes, when the people asked for suggestions aren’t quite as emotionally involved as you yourself are, they can throw out some really unexpected ideas you might end up loving.

Keep your ears open

Ears and eyes – there are some great name sources out there in the form of characters from books, TV shows, or movies. It’s not unusual for a name to take off after gaining popularity in media (we’re sure you can probably think of one or two from recent times), or maybe there’s a fictional character that has stuck in your mind, and you’d love to associate their attributes with your little one – or perhaps it’s less about the character’s attributes, and more to do with the fact you just love the name itself. Either way, fiction is an excellent source of inspiration for those who don’t want to stick with the classics – or those who may wish to return to some of those older names!

It’s up to you

At the end of the day, choosing a name for your baby is an intensely personal undertaking. If you think a name fits your family, if it resonates and just feels right, then it’s probably the right name. Names are special – and you don’t have to go with the first one you think of. It’s not uncommon for parents to come up with what they feel is the perfect choice, then change their minds upon meeting their new loved one. While births need to be registered as soon as practicable, you don’t need to do it immediately. Take a few days to try on different names and see which one fits your beautiful new human being – they’re going to have it for a while!