Congratulations! You're expecting a baby. Along with all of the other responsibilities like preparing the nursery, buying a crib and car seat, and checking on the health of both mom and baby as he / she develops, there is the task of choosing a name for the little one. In comparison to everything else that needs to be done in anticipation of baby's arrival, choosing a baby name may seem of less importance. However, this may be one of the most important things you can do for your baby.
Throughout history, cultures have placed a great deal of importance on selecting baby names. Some cultures and religions have ritualized the process and have even turned the responsibility over to holy men or village elders.
A very common tradition, at least in western cultures, is to name boys after their fathers. Although this is a way to carry on family tradition, I personally feel that it is a rather unoriginal method of choosing a baby name. Being a "junior", I have always felt overshadowed by my father's name and reputation. Growing up, this was a constant source of confusion about who was who. During my teen years, mail and phone calls sometimes got misdirected. I'm biased of course, so you'll need to make your own decision on this point.
In Chinese culture, babies are not named before birth. Instead, they are given a "false name" in order to scare away evil spirits. A child will traditionally have several names as it grows up – one as an infant, a school name, and one post-graduation. The Zodiac plays a predominant role in Chinese culture and this along with generational names also factors into what baby name to give a newborn.
In the Hindu culture, the baby naming process is given a name: "Namkaran". The translation is "to make a name". The Namkaran ritual is held either in a Hindu temple or at home 2-3 weeks after the baby is born. The father of the baby whispers the chosen name into the child's right ear. The selection of the name is a very serious undertaking in Hindu culture and there are several rules that govern what the name should be. These rules reflect the caste of the family and the sex of the child among several other factors.
The naming of Muslim babies follows very strict laws governed by Islam. The primary responsibility of choosing a baby name in Muslim culture falls to the parents. Islamic law forbids naming a child with names that are reserved for Allah, the Prophets, and the angels. These laws apply to both girls and boys with separate rules for each sex. It's very important that a chosen name not subject the child to ridicule or mockery and for girls, the chosen name should not be too provocative or soft.
The way a full name sounds when spoken is also something to consider. I'm always attracted to names that use alliteration. Jessie James, Robbie Robinson, and Mary Mcquire have a nice ring. Also consider the number of syllables in both first and last names. The name will have a smoother and more rhythmic flow if the number of syllables is different between the first and last names. First and last names that both end in the same sound should be avoided, such as Ricky Dickey, Zack Mack, and Matt Platt. Sounds a little funny, do not you think.
Like clothing fashions, baby names go through popularity cycles as well. It's not unusual to have several children in a classroom all with the same name. Many times you can tell in what era a person was born solely based on their first name.
There are many resources to utilize when looking for just the right baby name for your child. There are many online resources as well as baby name books and kits offline. Also, do not forget family, friends, and clergymen. If you follow the traditions of your cultural heritage and go with you heart, then you can be certain that you'll select the best possible baby name for the child who is waiting to meet you shortly.