June 30, 2010

Nervously Naming our Newborns

Sad, but true. According to the Wall Street Journal, sociologists and name researchers are seeing unprecedented levels of anxiety among parents trying to choose names for their children. While once a reflection of family tradition or cultural values, a child’s name has now become a symbol of individual taste. The pressure is on! Knowing the name will become a lasting part of the child’s identity, parents are turning to several resources before they commit to a final name for their baby’s birth certificate.

Hiring a baby naming consultant or branding consultant has become a recent trend. Some of these “baby naming experts” offer phone consultations and even mathematical formulas. The consultants may analyze the phonetic elements, popularity and ethnic and linguistic origins, and can serve as an objective third party when parents are in disagreement about a name. Some parents even turn to research to find out how society reacts to different names. Albert Mehrabian Ph.D., a professor of psychology at UCLA, found that more common names elicit positive reactions, while unusual names typically result in negative responses. He has a popular article, “Baby Name Report Card: Beneficial and Harmful Baby Names” and is frequently cited in blogs for his knowledge regarding which names will lead to success vs. failure.

For parents that want to do their own exploring, nymbler.com is an interactive website where the user can input their favorite name and the site will generate popularity statistics as well as similar name options they may want to consider. Some parents go straight to the Social Security Administration website, which allows them to browse reliable data and see the most common names for each gender. The Social Security Administration site allows searches for past years as well as particular names.

Will parents every truly find unique names for their babies? Only time will tell!

Contributed by: Ashley Popham

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