How to Choose Your Baby’s First Name (2023)

Having trouble choosing a first name? These smart tips will help you pick a baby name that’s unique and perfectly suited for your baby.

Choosing your little one’s first name is an exciting task, as you’re giving a baby its very first gift—a name. Still, many parents feel a lot of pressure to choose the best name. To help ease any stress you may be feeling, we created an easy-to-use baby name finder. As you browse our baby name guide, keep in mind the following tips and tricks for choosing baby’s first name:

1. Discuss Wants and Needs

It’s important to know what you want in a first name before diving in. Baby names vary significantly, as do parents’ expectations. You and your partner should discuss the basics to establish a foundation like:

  • Do you want to honor a loved one? If so, does it have to be the first name, or will the middle name spot work? What do you think about using a variant instead? (ex: Lucia instead of Lucy)
  • Would you like to tie in your heritage? If so, you can search our baby name database by girl name origins or boy name origins.
  • Are any baby names off-limits for you?
  • How important is nickname potential?

Discussing your feelings from the start can avoid problems down the road and helps foster compromise, so you and your partner can ultimately choose a first name you’ll both love.

2. Look for Inspiration

If you’re ready to hit the ground running but aren’t sure where to start, check out our baby name lists for a wide assortment of first names. We have a number of dedicated lists, from biblical first names for boys to unique first names for girls. Each list includes picks that vary in popularity and origin, so there’s something for everyone’s taste.

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Another strategy is to browse popular baby girl names or popular baby boy names to see what names and styles grab your eye. If you’re keen on a certain sound, you can also view the most popular baby names by letter.

Or, choose to sort your results by recent or all-time popularity. Of course, you can always browse baby names in alphabetical order, too.

But if you really don’t know where to begin, try the “Surprise Me” feature, which populates a random assortment of baby names. You never know: It may introduce you to a new and unique first name.

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3. Step Outside the Box

You may think you only like modern names like Paisley and Kenzie, but a vintage sweetheart like Sadie or Minnie might win you over.

There’s no harm in checking out other origins either, as gorgeous names come from all corners of the globe. You may adore Lily, but dislike her popularity. Why not consider the Polynesian princess Leilani? She’s similar in sound and has equally floral roots, meaning “heavenly flower.”

4. Explore Meanings

Every name has a meaning and exploring that is a great way to find a name you love. For instance, if you like strong boy names but dislike obvious picks like Valor, you might love Ethan since he means “enduring and strong.” In fact, there are hundreds of boy names that mean strong. With our database, you can search by meaning and narrow results by gender, syllables, origin, and more.


Meanings are also a great source of inspiration if you’re looking for something that fits your child — or children if you’re having twins. If you have a lively little one in the womb, a first name meaning “life,” like Vida or Eva, would be fitting. Similarly, if she’s calm, Salma or Arina could work—both mean “peace.”

5. Consider Your Surname

It’s important to ask yourself a few questions including:

  • What surname(s) are we using?
  • Does it eliminate any contenders? For example, you may want to avoid Michael if your last name is Jordan.
  • Should you avoid any first names starting with a certain letter to avoid offensive initials?
  • Should you aim for a certain number of syllables to avoid a name feeling too clunky? You can search our collection by the number of syllables if needed.

6. Narrow Down Contenders

Be sure to jot down each contender that you come across, as you will likely encounter a veto or two from your partner. Once you both have a decent amount of options on your lists, try these exercises to test them out:

  • Say the first and last name together.
  • Write the names out by hand.
  • Introduce your child using each pick. (ex: “This is my daughter, Kylie.”)
  • Practice calling your child by name from across the house.
  • Use each name as if you’re on a job interview. (ex: “Hello, I’m Alexander Johnson.)

Each exercise brings the name to life in a different way and can weed out any names that don’t feel “right” for your little one. This can also be a helpful way to pick between top contenders if you’re stuck between two or three names.

How to Resolve First Name Feuds

Sometimes conflict pops up when you’re reviewing your lists. Maybe you don’t want to name your daughter after his favorite car, Chevelle, and he isn’t sold on your pick, Isabella. Can you compromise with Isabel or just Belle? Maybe Cherie or Chanel? You could also agree to use the favored name as a middle name instead.

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If you’re still stuck, consider solutions like:

  • Discuss the pros and cons of each name together. Whichever name has the most pros, wins.
  • Use each name for a day in conversation. Sometimes this helps a clear winner emerge.
  • Turn to family and friends for input. Sometimes outsiders can point out things you missed. (Example: You like Bonnie, but your son’s name is Clyde.)
  • Declare no winner and eliminate both names if you’re both digging your heels in. Sometimes starting fresh is the only way forward.
  • Guess the birth weight or height of the baby. Whoever is closest without going over wins and gets to use their favorite baby name.

When to Decide on a Name

Picking a baby’s first name is a huge milestone, but it doesn’t have to happen at any particular time. Some parents have a name picked out before conception, while others may wait until they see their little one for the first time on labor day. Both are valid ways to go about naming your child. Bottom line: Enjoy the process, and don’t rush yourself.

Should You Reveal the Name?

Deciding on a name is an intimate process. You are free to keep the name private or shout it from the rooftops. Either option is acceptable.

If you’re facing pressure to reveal the name, consider the following:

  • Can you handle opinions? Seemingly everyone has an opinion on names and sometimes people can be hurtful with what they say.
  • Will they be satisfied if you provide the initial only? (Example: Baby M)
  • Can you reveal the first name and keep the middle name private? This may alleviate some pressure on you and give you a chance to perfect your pick.

Most importantly, don’t feel forced into sharing the name if you don’t want to. Even if you know the final pick, you’re free to shrug your shoulders and say you’re waiting to meet the baby.


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How to Choose Your Baby’s First Name? ›

The hospital may ask you to fill out the birth certificate before you leave. But if you need more time, you do not have to decide at the hospital. If you do not choose a name within 10 days, the state will make a birth certificate for “baby boy” or “baby girl” with the mother's last name.

What to avoid when choosing a baby name? ›

Here are eight common mistakes people make when choosing baby names... and how to avoid them.
  • We dismiss names as too popular. ...
  • We dismiss names as too weird. ...
  • We treat names as single-use items. ...
  • We dismiss family names and traditions. ...
  • We use filler middle names. ...
  • We forget about balance. ...
  • We don't test drive the names.
Feb 22, 2017

How long do you have to choose a name for your baby? ›

The hospital may ask you to fill out the birth certificate before you leave. But if you need more time, you do not have to decide at the hospital. If you do not choose a name within 10 days, the state will make a birth certificate for “baby boy” or “baby girl” with the mother's last name.

Which parent decides the name? ›

If paternity hasn't been established, the mother typically has the right to decide about the child, including choosing their name.

Why should you be careful when choosing a baby's name? ›

Your child's name is likely to indicate your child's socio-economic status and could potentially affect their future success. Polls have shown that classmates, teachers and job recruiters judge individuals based on their names. So choose carefully when naming the newest addition to your family.

What last name does baby take if not married? ›

In the United States, no federal laws govern the last name of a child born to unmarried parents. Parents are generally free to choose any last name they wish for their child.

How do you know if a name is right for you? ›

Before you commit to any particular name, consider trying it on for size. Use in public, ask your loved ones, and try to imagine yourself walking through life with this particular name. Introduce yourself to strangers using your new name. Try the name on, and see how it fits.

What is the most popular baby name? ›

The most popular baby names 2022 in the US are led by Olivia in the top spot for girls and Liam as the #1 name for boys. The most recent list of popular names ranks all the names given to five or more newborns born in the US in 2022.

Why is naming a child important? ›

Namings are important. They bring together Family and Friends to celebrate the arrival of a new member of the family, giving a sense of family unity and acknowledgement, helping to develop a bond towards the child and his or her family and friends.

Why does the baby take the father's last name? ›

"[Giving the man's last name to the child] can be a way of having a sense of two parents," she explains. "It's also a way of trusting in the marriage -- saying, 'This is someone I can count on. ' It's about enjoying the good parts of being part of a family, of feeling somehow that this man is making a commitment."

Do kids take mom or dads last name? ›

It's true that patrilineal baby-naming dominates in America. Researchers have found that heterosexual married couples give the baby the father's name more than 95% of the time.

Does the baby take the father's last name? ›

You don't even have to give the baby the last name of either parent if you don't want to, and the child doesn't have to have the father's last name to be considered "legitimate." (Learn more about the legitimacy of children born to unmarried parents.) The procedure for naming a baby is simple.

What baby names will be popular in 2023? ›

Top baby names of 2023
96 more rows

Should you keep baby name a secret? ›

Yes, absolutely, no matter how often the interrogators in your family and friend circles tell you otherwise. There's nothing wrong with keeping your baby's name secret while you're pregnant, if that's the route you want to go. Plenty of expectant parents wait until their baby is born to announce the name.

Should I give my baby a unique name? ›

"It symbolizes their hopes and dreams for their kids," she said. "So if you want your child to stand out from the crowd, be independent, and a real individual, a unique name is one way to show him that you value those qualities."

Can I give my baby whatever last name I want? ›

In California, as in many states, parents are free to give their child whatever last name they choose, including the mother's surname, father's surname or a completely different surname altogether. If an unmarried woman gives birth, she is free to make this decision by herself.

Whose last name goes first marriage? ›

Typical protocol says that prior to the wedding day (on Save the Dates, Invitations, etc.) the bride's name should precede the groom's. And after the wedding day (on Thank You cards, Address Labels, etc.) that the groom's name precedes his new wife.

Can my baby take my husbands last name? ›

When the Court look at your application their paramount concern is for the welfare of your child. As such, they will not make an Order for a change of surname unless there is evidence that it would lead to an improvement in the welfare of the child.

How do you ask for a chosen name? ›

It's okay to ask the person which name they use. You can say to them, "I want to be sure I'm respectful. What name do you prefer to be called?" Being open about your desire to be kind and courteous is key.

Why is choosing the right name important? ›

Our names are an incredibly important part of our identity. They carry deep personal, cultural, familial, and historical connections. They also give us a sense of who we are, the communities in which we belong, and our place in the world.

What is a preferred or chosen name? ›

A chosen name (sometimes known as a preferred name, a nickname, or a name-in-use) is the use of a name, usually a first name, that is different from a person's legal name.

What is the #1 girl name in America? ›

Here are the top girl names according to the Social Security Administration: Olivia. Emma. Charlotte.

What's the rarest girl name? ›

What Are The Rarest Names For Girls?
  1. Aella. Origin: Ancient Greek name. Meaning: “Whirlwind” or “tempest”
  2. Alohi. Origin: Hawaiian girl name. Meaning: “Shining” or “brilliant”
  3. Caitronia. Origin: Gaelic. ...
  4. Novalie. Origin: Latin. ...
  5. Ottiline. Origin: French and German girl name. ...
  6. Tamsyn. Origin: Cornish.
3 days ago

What name means gift from God? ›

What name means gift from God? Theodore and Theodora are the two best-known names that mean “gift from God”. So, if you're looking to name your little miracle a name that signifies their divine origin, Theo might just be the perfect choice!

What happens if you never name a child? ›

Even in the absence of a name, the hospital will still register your baby's birth and send the info to your state's health department. (You can get a copy of the birth certificate from your state or county's department of vital records.) The procedure for adding a name later may vary depending on the state you live in.

What does the Bible say about choosing names? ›

Proverbs 22:1 – “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Both riches (silver and gold) and an honorable reputation (loving favor, i.e., respect) are good.

What does the Bible say about naming a child? ›

And in the process of dedicating a child to God, you must give him or her a name. NAME, whether of living or non-living things, is a form of identification; and it has a divine origin. This is evident from the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2.

Whose name should go first? ›

Outside of the traditional, formal “Mr. & Mrs. John Doe”, the wife's name is ALWAYS first when using first names: “Jane and John Doe” (1). In social importance, the woman is always first, then males, then children.

How are names chosen? ›

A child's given name or names are usually chosen by the parents soon after birth. If a name is not assigned at birth, one may be given at a naming ceremony, with family and friends in attendance.

Do you choose your name before birth? ›

Some people drop the name as soon as they know they have a viable pregnancy, while others wait until the baby is born. There's no right or wrong, as long as you're confident in your choice before you announce it.

Does the guy or girl's name come first? ›

First things first, whose name goes first:

Traditionally, the bride always precedes the groom. For a formal invite, we would always suggest the bride to be referred to by her first and middle names.

Which name comes first in a couple? ›

Addressing a Couple

Nowadays, the order of the names—whether his name or hers comes first—does not matter and either way is acceptable. The exception is when one member of the couple 'outranks' the other—the one with the higher rank is always listed first.

Why is the bride's name always first? ›

Tradition dictates that the bride's name always comes first, whether on save the date cards, wedding invitations or anything else. This is because the bride's parents are usually the hosts, paying a greater share of the expenses.

Does first name include middle name? ›

A middle name is not a separate part of your name. Middle names are a part of your first name. Of course, in day-to-day life we talk of “middle names”, being any name(s) after your first forename. Legally speaking, your “first name” is in fact all your forenames together.

Does baby take mom or dad's last name? ›

The child's last name on a birth certificate

The last name can be: The mother's surname when the child was born; The father's surname when the child was born; Both parents' names, recorded in any order, hyphenated or unhyphenated; or.

Does it matter what you name your child? ›

Plenty of research suggests the name chosen impacts a baby's life well into adulthood. For instance, donning your newborn boy with a girly sounding name could mean behavioral problems later in life. And unique baby names that only your child will have can be a hardship too.


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