Baby name search bewildering? Get some inspiration

Baby name search bewildering? Get some inspiration



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SALT LAKE CITY — Finding out I was expecting twins was one of the greatest shocks of my life. I anticipated an uncomfortable pregnancy and countless sleepless nights, but I didn’t expect that the simple act of naming twins would be so difficult.

Did I want their names to rhyme? Should their names start with the same letter? How are we going to come up with two names that complement each other (and the names of our other children) that both my husband and I agree on? The task seemed impossible. We tossed names back and forth like a fierce game of ping-pong.


Naming babies is tough. It’s an even heavier task when you stop and think about the significance a name has for an entire life.

My favorites — which were different than my husband’s favorites — were Davis and Miles. But since the name Miles Davis was already famous, that was not an option. We finally decided on Davis and Mason.

Naming babies is tough. It’s an even heavier task when you stop and think about the significance a name has for an entire life. That is a lot of responsibility for any parent. But there are plenty of ways to get inspired and things to consider to help guide you through the naming process. Here are a few suggestions:

Honor relatives with a family name

Naming a child after a family member is a tradition that dates back several hundred years and is still popular today. Giving children a family name, for either a first or middle name, is a great way to pass along a sense of legacy or remind them of their heritage. On both sides of our families, the firstborn male has the same middle name as his father and his father before him. We carried on the tradition.

Many people — even me — have had names for their children picked since they were children themselves. My own daughter’s name, Katelyn, is a combination of family names. I had the name picked out for my first daughter well before I could drive, and long before the name Katelyn was popular.

Get inspired by fiction

Allison Cook, a Utah native now living in Sweden, had her favorite name picked out since she was 5 years old. Cook named her first and only child Savannah, after the 1982 film "Savannah Smiles."

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How did you decide on your child's name? Or how did you get your own name? Share your stories on the Motherhood Matters Facebook page, or here on the Comment Board.

Savannah Cook is not the only child named after a fictitious person. For Ogden native Amanda Daybell, being named after a character in a book spans generations.

“I was named after a character in a book my mom was reading. My son is named after a character in a book I was reading,” Daybell said.

Five-year-old Liberty Pitcher’s father first heard her name in a civil war novel he was reading; the fictional Liberty was a confederate spy.

Songs can also be the source of inspiration. Michelle Taylor of Layton admits, “Our oldest Karaline Mary is honestly named after Neil Diamond’s classic 'Sweet Caroline.'”

Explore a destination

If a novel doesn’t move you to the perfect name, maybe a city or destination will. Jenny and Justin Polson in Austin, Texas, have named their three children — London, Kingston and Brighton — after cities in England.

Paige Hill named her son Colter “after one of our all time favorite places on earth.” She speaks of Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park.

Ponder the meaning of a name

My husband and I had the name Cameron picked out for our first son years before he was born. We loved the name, but I have to admit I was a little unsettled with its meaning: “crooked nose.” I was quite relieved when the nurse handed him to me for the first time and his nose was tiny and straight.

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Other families, however, have found the meaning of a name significant. West Jordan resident Char Coester’s first son was two days old and still nameless.

“We’d been calling him ‘Little Buddy,’” Coester explains. “One more look in the baby name book showed us that ‘Keller’ means ‘little companion,’ so we went with it.”

A name can have meaning, purpose and praise, particularly for those whose road to parenthood was especially difficult. Jennie Larsen prayed for months to conceive, but it was taking longer than she would’ve liked. She had always wanted a little girl, so when she finally got her positive pregnancy test, she was elated.

“As soon as I knew I was pregnant I went to my baby name book and opened it up to the girl section. I started in the A’s," Larsen says. "When I came across the name ‘Arabella’ I perked up. Then I read the meaning: ‘Answered prayer.’ I got chills all over my body, my eyes filled with tears, and I knew in that moment my Savior was sending me my girl.”

When Kelli Johnson was pregnant with her third child, his name came to her in the dead of night.

“I sat up out of a dead sleep and said out of the blue, ‘How about Zachary?’ It seemed so right,” she recalls.

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Zachary means “God remembers” and turned out to be very fitting. Unknown to anyone, Zachary had a heart condition known as supraventricular tachycardia. When he was just 3 weeks old, his condition caused cardiogenic shock and he went into multi-organ failure. But God did not forget him, and now Zachary is nearly 2 years old and a healthy, active, stubborn toddler.

Liz and Stephen Batchelor waited nearly six years to have a baby. “We were able to take our little girl home with us on Christmas Eve. We couldn’t think of a better name than Noelle for our wonderful Christmas miracle.”

Leave it up to fate

When all else fails, just flip a coin. It worked for Nike and Ben Peterson, who were living in Idaho when Nike gave birth to baby number three.

“She was 24 hours old and she was still nameless,” Nike explains. “In desperation, my husband went to the nurse's station and grabbed a quarter for a best of seven showdown between our finalists: Savannah or Ainsley. Ainsley took the first three with Savannah winning the last four for a come-from-behind victory. We kept the quarter and took pictures to prove to her that we literally flipped a coin to decide.”


Nicole and her husband are raising four children, seven years and younger, including twin boys. She's learning to cherish each "truly happy" moment. Nicole owns Sidewalk Communications LLC and blogs at www.MyEverthingElse.com.

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Nicole Carpenter

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