A One-Step Recipe for Baby-Name Contentment

If you can choose anything ---- how can you be sure you made the best possible choice? How do you even know when to stop looking?
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Mother cradling newborn baby's hand
Mother cradling newborn baby's hand

I spend a lot of time trying to help you find a terrific baby name. Today, I'd like to shift focus to helping you enjoy it.

"Namer's remorse" is on the rise. Parents of infants write to me, agonized that they've made the wrong name choice. This epidemic arises from the wide-open array of name choices that today's expectant parents face. If you can choose anything -- anything -- how can you be sure you made the best possible choice? How do you even know when to stop looking?

The best time to protect yourself against namer's remorse is before you've settled on a name. At some point between brainstorming and decision making, you'll find yourself with a list. This "short list" represents the names you and your partner felt were worthy of serious consideration. The next natural step is to narrow the field by thinking of reasons to eliminate most of the names.

Don't do it.

Sure, you have to narrow your choices, but there's a better way. Go through your list, thinking about anything you particularly love about individual names. Trim your list by moving names up, not down.

Does your love of Much Ado About Nothing give the name Beatrice a special glow? Is Austin a happy reminder of college, where you first met? Do you want to say Ariella over and over because of the way it rolls off your tongue? Is the initial X in Xavier just too cool for words?

When you narrow down by finding fault, you're planting seeds of doubt about your options. If you're too successful at nit-picking, you might even end up wiping out your whole list. But when you narrow up by finding delight, you build excitement. The decision may be just as difficult, but you know your final options are wonderful. Whatever name you settle on will come with the glow of delight -- and a story you can tell yourself, as well as your child, about why her name is so special.

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