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'I can’t see him as a Thor FitzGerald': 10 rules for choosing a baby name

David Caren gives practical advice for Irish expectant dads.

David Caren

THE CSO RELEASED its statistics on Irish baby names in 2017, with Jack and Emily taking top spot for most popular names.

The top five names for boys were Jack, James, Daniel, Conor and Sean, while the top five for girls were Emily, Emma, Amelia, Grace and Sophie.

New names in the top 100 for last year are Theo and Jackson for boys, and Aoibhin, Nina, Pippa and Esma for girls.

There was more variety in names for girls than boys, with 4,493 girls’ names registered compared to 3,472 boys’ names.

10 rules for choosing a name

1. Be diplomatic

Don’t go all gung-ho with the ‘well, if it’s a boy he has to be called …’ attitude. Instead, get out two sheets of paper and each write down your top five boy and girl names, then swop them over and rank one another’s from 1–5 in order of preference. Remember, compromise is another way of saying ‘that’ll do as a middle name’. Better yet ask the bump, a kick is a yes and no activity means he’s asleep!

2. Say the name out in different tones

Happy – as if he has just taken his first steps.
Outrage – when he decides to smear his nappy across the widescreen TV.
Sadness – when he decides to go backpacking for a year and you’ll miss him greatly (trust me you will!).

3. Can the name be shortened, and if so are you satisfied with the result – and more importantly, will baby Jim Bob be?

4. Are there any obvious nicknames that your child may end up having to live with? Be sure to check that the initials work with the surname and don’t spell out anything which may draw unnecessary schoolyard attention, eg Victor D’Arcy. Although toss in a middle name or a double-barrelled alternative and it paints a completely different picture, eg Vincent Ian Purcell.

5. A class act: There is nothing more heart-wrenching than hearing your littlest one say, ‘Daddy you said I was special but there are five Bellas in my class.’ Will you mind your child sharing the same name as others in her class? Similarly be fair to the wee lad or lass when it comes to spelling and pronunciation; we all know it’s great to be different but think about the first-day-of-school-sticker scenario!

6. Brittany and Brad: If you are to amble down the road of celebrity names, be conscious of the fact that celebrities tend to lead different lives to us mortals, so today’s tabloid angel could be tomorrow’s devil.

7. They grow up so fast: What’s cute for the first 16 years of their lives may not be so convincing when they are negotiating a deal breaker in the boardroom later in adult life.

8. Adolf means ‘noble wolf ’: Look at the meaning of your baby’s name. You don’t want to find out afterwards that your chosen name translates as ‘unmanly’ or worse still, that your little girl’s name means ‘the chaser of men’.

9. Keep it in the family: A neutral option would be to decide if it’s a boy then the father’s (or his father’s etc) name is chosen; if it’s a girl then it’ll be the mother’s (or her mother’s etc) name. With regard to subsequent children, just reverse the principle, and I don’t mean if it’s a boy then it’s the mother’s name!

10. First impressions may change everything: You may be both adamant on the name, but what can occur is when you are cradling your newborn for the very first time you suddenly look down and realise that he or she doesn’t look at all like an Ethan or an Isabel for that matter.

Don’t panic, time is very much on your side as you have up to 12 weeks to register the name after your baby is born.

David Caren is the author of The Irish Dad’s Survival Guide to Pregnancy and Beyond.

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