choosing baby name

Choosing baby name

Have you made your baby name shortlist? If not, then read Sarah Larkin’s advice on making this important decision.

Choosing which name your baby should have for the rest of their life is fun, but it can also be quite an emotional and challenging experience. You may find that you keep changing your mind – it is not the easiest decision to make, but when you take the time to really think and consider the following advice, it may not be so hard after all.

Knowing the gender

For those who decide they want to find out their baby’s sex while pregnant, there is an immediate advantage. Instead of two long lists of names, you now only have one. However, this may not make the decision any easier. For some parents, the decision may be made once they become pregnant, but for others it may not be until they look into the eyes of their newborn for the first time.

Most popular

Lists, lists and more lists. The internet is full of them, from unique names to most popular; to names beginning with ‘x’, there are countless options to inspire. If you want to know what a lot of people are calling their kids, stay on the ‘most popular’ lists, but if you want to choose something with a bit of a unique spin, or look at alternative ways to spell names, it’s all available to you with the click of a mouse.

Make it personal

If you are a traditionalist or you would like your baby to be named after a relative or dear friend, then this can be a very special choice. The name has special meaning and could be a dedication to someone who means or meant a lot to you. This makes choosing a name for your baby a much more personal experience. It can also be interesting to look at name meanings, you may know what you want your baby’s name to mean or represent. Remember that whatever name you choose, your child will carry it with them for the rest of their lives. Just be wise and cautious when you make the final decision.

Say it and write it

If you have more than a few names reeling through your head, begin to say them out loud, adding your surname. This will help to hear the name and using the names in sentences will let you know which names are successful and which names don’t quite make the cut. A good tip to remember when you are trying out names with your surname, the longer the surname, the shorter the first name, and vice versa. This will help the name easily roll off the tongue. Also bear spelling in mind and how some initials look when certain letters are placed next to one another.


Of course there will be names that you will love and your partner both love, but you may not always be in agreement. There are ways to overcome disagreements without resulting in unnecessary arguments. For instance, take the time to sit together and talk through names you both like. You can also both write a list of names you find the most appealing and compare and share what you both have in mind.

Get creative

In situations where both parties disagree, you can take advantage of the options you have. Why not combine names, or create a double-barrel name. Or if certain names don’t mesh well together, give your child a middle name. By choosing more than one name, you can be sure that you and your partner are happy. Have a think outside the box if you find yourself veering towards more unique names.

Let it happen

The one thing to remember is not to let the challenge of trying to choose a baby name take over. Avoid becoming stressed; after all it is an enjoyable experience and fun to look through all of the options available. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a break; you can always go back whenever you want. The most important thing is to enjoy the challenge of choosing your baby’s name. It is a very special occasion and is the beginning of who your child will grow to become.

Did you know?

Naming traditions from around the world

In different countries, it may not be as easy as picking whatever name you want. Each country differs in the laws and options available to parents when choosing their babies’ names. Below are some of the options available to people in certain countries, some may seem strict, but most all are based on tradition:

China – babies’ names usually consist of two to three syllables from the Chinese alphabet. Due to the amount of characters in the Chinese alphabet, it is very rare to find two people with the same first name. Boys are given plain names to trick evil spirits into overlooking them, while girls’ names represent beauty and virtue.

Japan – similar to China in the sense that girls’ names represent beauty and virtue, and often end in ‘ko’ meaning ‘child’. Boys on the other hand will be named based on their position in the family.

Greece – babies are usually not named until the seventh or tenth day after birth. Following a tradition of the eldest son named after the paternal grandfather, eldest daughter named after paternal grandmother etc.

Islam – babies are usually named after significant figures in Islamic faith.

Hindu – In India, a letter of the Sanskrit alphabet associated with the child’s lunar birth sign is chosen, which is believed to be lucky for the baby. The baby receives a name starting with that letter. A child can be named after the deity of the month in which they were born or the name of the family deity.

More like this:

Baby name regret
Maternity options in Ireland
The first 72 hours

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.