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Baby Names Are Overwhelming. Here’s How To Narrow Your List

Source: Becky Harlan/NPR

What’s in a name?

A name is one of the first gifts a parent gives to their child, and one of the first things we lead with when we meet someone new — but picking a name for a baby can be an overwhelming and stressful process. We want to make it a little bit easier. With advice from author and baby name expert Laura Wattenberg and professional baby naming consultant Sherri Suzanne, Life Kit has a framework that we think will help you choose a name for your child in a clear and fun way — or at least narrow down your list.

The first part of picking a name for your child is not to worry about how popular — or unique — names might be. “Each of us thinks, well, I just happen to prefer uncommon names. But really, that’s our whole generation,” Wattenberg says. “The most common opinion you can have is to not like things that are common. Popular just means well liked. No child’s life was ruined by having a popular name.”

Another important part of the baby naming framework is to set your parameters. What — and who — do you want to influence this process? Determining what you want your circle of influence to be can help guide the names that are added to your baby-name shortlist. Some parents may want to pick a name that honors their family culture, heritage or traditions. For example, do you have grandparents or other elders in your family who you would like input from? Maybe close friends, or historical resources can help as well. Between your personal preference, the preference of a partner, family and historical traditions, Suzanne says, “You’re not going to make a mistake when you care this much.”

For more on what to consider when picking a name, press play on the audio above.

How did you choose your child’s name? Write us at lifekit@npr.org and tell us the story. A producer may be in touch.

The podcast portion of this episode was produced by Andee Tagle.

We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

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