"What are you going to name her?" Hearing that a new baby is on the way seems to instantly trigger a whirlwind of interest in the baby's name. Expectant parents quickly discover that everyone has an opinion, preference or story to choose a particular name. Family members, neighbors, co-workers and even store clerks freely offer their choices and suggestions for a potential name. Unfortunately, finding a name that fits is often harder than expected. Here are just a few ways you can brainstorm name ideas!
Gina Roberts-Grey

Naming a person is an auspicious task. Taking on the responsibility of deciding how a person will be referred to for a lifetime can cause expectant parents to feel frustrated, confused and overwhelmed. Many couples spend countless hours arguing over which family member to name -- or not name -- a new baby after. They make lists, read books and play games in the hopes of landing on a name that is perfect for their child. Some veto names that conjure memories of childhood loves, former teachers and bullies from the fourth grade, while others reflect fondly upon the name of their first best friend or a character from a favorite childhood book.

Having an old-fashioned or strong and masculine name for a boy, or a sensitive and demure name for a girl, may be the aim of one parent whose partner prefers a trendsetting, original name. Although consulting a book of names, family members and even psychics are proven methods to determine the name that's best suited to your preferences, there are a few unique and fun alternatives that can help you discover the perfect name for your little one.

Grammatical aspects of a name
Many parents find names that are short, sweet and to the point are worth consideration. If this is your goal when selecting a name, single-syllable names such Finn, Belle, Grant, Faye, Keith and May are just a sampling of the endless possibilities for your baby.

Another option that presents a fun challenge is giving all of your children names with the same number of syllables or first initial. Many parents choose to use this method as an additional way to show their family's bond.

How you spell a name can add the unique touch you're looking for. Contemplate all phonetic possibilities for a name such as Zachary, Zackery, and Xackery that you're considering. Xackery? You read that right. Keep in mind the many letters that make similar sounds, thereby offering a little creative freedom.

Rhyming is also a popular trend of parents with multiple children. Naming brothers Zack and Jack, sisters Bailey, Haley, and Kayleigh, or siblings Kim and Tim offer the rhythmic flow you might be hoping for.

Matching pairs
Parents expecting twins, or those looking to find a name that compliments an older child's name, can ponder choices such as Matthew and Madison that both can be shortened to share a similar nick name. Charles and Charlotte might appeal to future parents looking for similar names for their twins, while James and Jamie offer homonym lovers a fun option for siblings.

Meaningful moments
Drawing on meaningful memories from their own lives has led many parents in the direction of a name for their child. Some find extracting names from songs such as Eric Clapton's 'Layla', Jefferson Starship's 'Caroline' and Styx's 'Lorelei' inspiring methods to finding a baby's name. Selecting a name that represents the place a child was conceived, food eaten on a first date, or a beloved fictional character prompt some to tap into the recesses of their most fond memories to uncover their baby's name.

Location, location, location
Names that double as a reminder of an exotic retreat or a couple's favorite location have gained momentum over the past few decades. Parents calling out to Cheyenne, Paris and Savannah are frequently heard at day cares and local parks. If you honeymooned in Camden, Maine, or grew up on Alexandra Boulevard, consider a name that infers your love of geography or a special location.

Religious, ethnic and spiritual connotations
Research the origins, meanings and translations of some of your favorite words or names for creative or personalized alternatives. In Chinese, the female name Jinyu is translated into precious Jade, and the Hebrew meaning of Zachary, and its many forms, is He whom God remembers. Opting for biblical and religious names such as Noah, Mary and Job interject a spiritual message while fans of Hawaii's native tongue might consider Kai. Tracing your family's ancestry you might discover your great grandmother had a beautiful middle or surname that you could give your baby to reflect your family's heritage.

Names and gender
Names that are unique or one of a kind provide parents the chance to infuse their own personality and style into their baby's name. Anitra can be a combination of Anita and Travis while Benita incorporates Benjamin and Rita. Combining the first or middle names of the baby's parents, grandparents, or your favorite names can inspire you to create a unique name that represents both your baby and your unique style.

Bailey, Kelly, Haley, Taylor, Dana and Tyler are a few of the names that were once considered to be gender-specific. Parents looking to break down gender name barriers can consider giving their child a unisex name to promote individuality. Another twist on names and gender is giving a child a version of the name of his or her namesake. A daughter can be named Kendall after her father who is named Ken. Remembering a grandmother named Lillian can be accomplished by naming a grandson Leo.

Surnames as first names
Carrying on a family surname or honoring the names of prior generations is often very important to expectant parents. Many parents with family surnames such as MacAllister, Daley, Cooper, Madison, Vance and Monroe have opted to select their surname as the first name for a new baby.

Repurposing everyday names
Who knew that common household items such as Sage, Apple, Coco and Basil would become trendsetting names for future generations? Names that pay homage to colors, gems and even plants are becoming popular with parents searching for unique monikers. Children named Ruby, Ivy, Snow, Topaz and Cinnamon can give Mother Nature some of the credit for their naturalistic names. And don't forget number names, such as that bestowed upon Seven, the son of musicians Erykah Badu and Andre 3000.

To nickname or not to nickname
Revisiting the silly songs of your youth will provide a preview to the possible nicknames your child will encounter. Playing the "name game," you might realize you adore the name Isabella, but are not fond of Belle, Belly, Bella or Izzy. Take time to consider traditional and non-traditional nicknames for popular names such as Joshua and Hannah before signing your child's birth certificate. Keep in mind that some child on the playground will discover (or create) annoying or possibly even embarrassing nicknames, such as Joshy, J-Man, Posh Josh, Hannah Banana, Bannah and Fannah.

Initials, middles names and more...
Many find the struggle to choose a first name so overwhelming that they elect to omit a middle name. Others opt for the simplistic flair that a single initial offers the space in between a child's first and last names. Some admit they've resorted to picking a name out of a hat, while others found a name on the badge of a hospital employee or bank teller. Watch an old movie, read a magazine or blend a few names together to form your child's one-of-a-kind name.

You don't have to rush
Don't forget that you don't need to have names lined up before birth! Some parents prefer to see their child before selecting his or her name. Take a baby name book or two to the hospital with you to help you decide after the birth.

Whatever method or efforts you employ, ultimately, try to maintain some perspective when naming their child. Keeping a spotlight on the joyous spirit of having a baby will help your follow your instincts, so you can find a name that feels comfortable... and somehow fits just perfectly.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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