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Baby name ideas: How to get started

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Written by Mary Fetzer   

Finding the perfect baby name is a daunting task. You and your significant other may or may not agree on names. You may feel pressure from family members to incorporate genealogy into the name. You may worry that your baby's name may be too unusual… or too common. Before you start your challenging baby name search, consider some of these tips to help you narrow down your options before they become overwhelming:

Your baby's initials


Screw this up and your child will be the butt of playground jokes at school. Initials matter. They're instant acronyms and can wreak havoc on a child's social life. For example, Annabelle Samantha Smith's initials spell A.S.S., and William Thomas Frank will be known as WTF.  Not cool.

Need help? Read the dos and don’ts of baby name initials >>

Middle names


Ah, the elusive middle name. It's bad enough that you have to come up with one name, but standard protocol really calls for two. Look at the middle name as a way to deal with all of the controversy that might have surrounded the first name. If there's no way around paying tribute to Grandma Agnes or Uncle Mortimer, then consider using such antique gems as middle name options.

Check out The Guide to Choosing a Middle Name >>

Surname options


You really do have options when it comes to your child's last name. You can use Mom's. Dad's. A hyphenated version (in either order). It may be confusing to friends and family (and later to schools and tax collectors), but it's ultimately your choice.

Find out how to choose a last name for your baby >>

Protecting your baby name choice


Jay-Z and Beyonce applied for a patent to protect daughter Blue Ivy's name. Why? In their case, they likely wanted to prevent poachers from making money on fashion, perfume, jewelry or toys named after their famous offspring. But there are other reasons why someone might want to "claim" a name.

Aside from the legal mumbo-jumbo, some parents just want to make sure their baby doesn't have the same name as every other kid on the block (or in the classroom or the county, for that matter).  Trendy names are quickly copied, and name claiming can become a real source of contention…

Which side do you take in the baby name claim debate? >>

Baby names to avoid


Some names are doomed to fail. The last thing you want to do is saddle your baby with a name that reminds people of a vicious dictator, notorious criminal or horror movie villain. While its ultimately your decision, there's no getting around the fact that others may look unkindly on a child named Lucifer, Adolf, Hades or Maleficent.

Take note of the most obvious baby names to avoid >>

Best first name for your last name


There are plenty of tips to help you pick the right kind of baby name to go with your surname. Should you pair a short first name with a long last name, and vice versa?  Should you pick a first name that begins with same letter as your surname?

Check out our top 5 tips for finding a good first name for your last name >> 

More baby naming tips


When to reveal the baby's name
How to change your baby's legal name
How to compromise on a baby name 

Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

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