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8 Tips for Choosing a Unique Baby Name (That Worked for Us!)

Naming a baby is a pretty big deal. It is something that our children will take with them everywhere for the rest of their lives, so it better be a good one! Many parents these days really want to come up with a baby name that is truly unique, but it can be a pretty challenging task these days. With the advent of the internet and the sharing of information, a name can go from obscure to popular in the blink of an eye (I’m looking at you, Harper and North). So how can a parent come up with a name that really is unique? Well, here are a few things that helped my husband and I in our search for coming up with unique monikers for our little ones…

Our daughter’s name is Fern. I know that not everyone loves it, but for the most part, people think it’s great. We get a lot of compliments on it, and while that isn’t a reason to choose a name, it’s always nice to hear that people like your kid’s name. We like that her name is simultaneously unique and classic. We also like that it’s slightly off-the-beaten-path, but not too far out there, and still easy to spell. Our son’s name, which we have yet to reveal (I’m trying to convince my husband to let me share it early!) is similarly unique, classic, and the (all-important) easy to spell.

So how did we arrive upon these name choices?

1. Keep a list.

I changed my mind at least 100 times when it came to the perfect name for our daughter, so it was nice to have a running list on hand to give us options. Whenever I’d hear or read a name that I liked, I’d add it to the list. It was really helpful when it came to choosing middle names as well!

2. Leave no stone unturned.

Do not consider any source of inspiration to be off-limits when it comes to baby naming. One of my favorite places to look for baby name inspiration is actually in the credits at the end of a movie – there are a lot to choose from! You could also consider street names, last names, words you like, authors, favorite foods, or even strangers on the street. You never know where the perfect name will turn up. The first time I heard my daughter’s name it was from a friend who had met a young woman named Fern while out and about having coffee here in Portland, and I instantly loved it.

3. Look at your family tree.

Sometimes there is a temptation to reinvent the wheel when it comes to baby naming, but sometimes the freshest and most unique names are ones that are throwbacks found on your own family tree. You might be surprised by the baby name gems you’ll find! My daughter’s name is actually a family name. I had a great grandmother named Fern Cleophia Griffey, and even though I’d never met her, I liked the idea of having a tie to my family’s history in the naming of my little one, and it’s nice to know that my daughter has a name that’s significant. As for our little boy still cooking up, while his first name isn’t actually a family name, his middle name just might be the maiden name of my husband’s grandmother (we’re still debating). It would be a nice nod to her, and it’s another uncommon, but classic, option.

4. Consider things and places you love.

Do you and your significant other love sailing? Perhaps you could use a nautical term as a name. Do you both share a love of a particular author? Why not pay homage with your baby’s name? Does a certain city/state/street hold special significance for you? Maybe you could use it in your naming process. Have a favorite month, season or day or the week? Maybe it would make a good baby name option.

5. Don’t overlook the importance of middle names.

We struggled with coming up with a middle name for our daughter, and in the end, we went with Winter… Fern Winter. The significance? My husband and I fell in love in the winter over a shared love of snowboarding; we were married in the winter during the first snowfall of the year; and our daughter coincidentally ended up being born in the winter, also during the first snowfall of the year. It was serendipitous. I love that her middle name has such special meaning, and even though people told me it wouldn’t really matter and that I’d never use her middle name anyway…they were wrong. I use it all the time, and I love how her first and middle name sound together.

6. Check the stats.

If you’re not sure about a name’s popularity, you can always go check the stats. I like this site and this one for finding out more about a name’s popularity and when it peaked. According to these sites, my daughter’s name peaked in popularity in 1916, with 1,332 children being given the name. In 2012, there were 45 other little ones named Fern. Our little boy’s name peaked in popularity in 1906, with 11 babies being given the name. It’s kind of cool to know these things.

7. When in doubt…

Go with your gut. Try out the name for awhile, and start referring to your little one as the name that is your front runner while you’re home with your partner and see if it sticks. With our daughter’s name, I knew right away after using it that it was the one.

8. Throw out the rules.

In the end, just choose a name you love, and throw all the rules out the window!

Image: DisneyBaby

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