Name Games

What should we name the baby? It’s one of the biggest decisions you and your partner will ever have to make - after all, the child will have to live with it forever, or at least until they’re old enough to change it! Here's our advice

What to call the little person growing inside you can cause problems before he and she is even born. Finding a name that both parents agree on can be much harder than you ever imagined. But at least if you start discussing it early, you may just about find one you both like – at least for your first baby!

The decision is yours

Ignore advice from family and friends. This baby is yours and your partner’s. The only people who have to like (or preferably love) the name are the two of you (and hopefully your child).

But it might be wise to remember the following

The style of name: what kind of names do you actually like?

Do you favour biblical or religious (David, Mary or Mohammed) or contemporary (Scarlet, Lola or Ethan)? Remember that fashions can change - there are an awful lot of adults, born in the late 80s, who are called Kylie and Jason.

Do you want something unusual (actress Gretchen Mol has a son named Ptolemy John, while Gwyneth Paltrow has an Apple) or something where the child will easily fit in? Jack has been the most popular name in the UK since the start of the 21st century. But if it’s a name you love, then you might have to get used to hearing your child called by his first name and the first initial of his surname!

In recent years, old-fashioned names like Ruby, Alfie, Ella and Grace have become hugely popular. Many of these were common at the beginning of the 20th century. This suggests that soon, names from the next generation along (the 1930s) may well experience a comeback. Perhaps you should get ahead of the game by having a Joan, Shirley or Victor!

Strange spellings

Don’t burden your child with strange spelling unless you really have to.

Does your Rebekkah really have to be spelt like that? Couldn’t a more traditional spelling do? After all, the sound of the name remains the same, and your child will have to spell their name out constantly for the rest of their life.

Surname sounds

It’s sensible to sound out the name you’ve chosen for your child along with their surname (and remember that this may not be your surname, but your partner’s).

For example, Jack may be your most favourite name, but does Jack Jackson really sound that great? If nothing else, it makes you sound pretty unoriginal. What about Ruby Reed or Claire Blair? Rhyming names are rarely a good idea, but longer names often sound good with short surnames.

You also need to take care of initials. Barry Oliver Gordon could get quite a bit of teasing at school just because of what his initials spell. Barry David Gordon will probably be okay.

Remember that your child will grow up

Some names sound sweet on a baby, but may not seem quite so appealing on a nuclear scientist (Professor Bluebell Madonna Halliwell anyone?). This may not bother you, but it may bother your child. It may also explain why so many parents call their children by one name (Jamie, for example) but actually christen them with the full version, James, to be used on more important occasions.

Family pressure.

You may be under pressure to include a family name. If it’s something you don’t like, you could stand your ground, or compromise. One suggestion might be to agree to use your great grandpa's name, but as a middle name. Another possible compromise could be to use the initial of the name demanded, rather than the full name (Steven rather than Sidney, for example).


Most names mean something. Some are appealing (Ruben means “behold, a son”, for example, which may be perfect for a boy born after two sisters, while Ryan means “king.”) Others are less so.

Whatever you choose, make sure you love it. After all, you’ll all be living with it for some time to come!


Related links

Have your say on baby naming! Discuss it all with other parents on our Forum

Pregnancy fitness - what exercise to do and what to avoid...Advice on exercising when you’re pregnant has changed over the years. Here our new expert, specialist pre and postnatal fitness coach Mark Hibbitts, explains all....

Breastfeeding Get it right from the start: Many mums give up in the first week of feeding because they find it painful – the sad fact is that the problems they had may have been avoided. Follow our guide to get it right…

Childbirth for siblings: A new baby will inevitably cause feelings of excitement, fear and jealousy for older brothers and sisters. Richenda Wilson offers this advice for parents.

Find out more

Look at the Office of National Statistics for the top 100 names over the last five years.

Related Advice