Baby Name Guide

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It's all in the name. Momtrends has gone to the experts to help you name your baby. Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizardand founder of and www.namecandy.comhas given me some insider scoop on trends and tips for finding the best baby names.

The thought of naming a baby is so overwhelming. Where is a good place to start?Nobody is a blank slate when it comes to names. Some names make us cringe, others make us say "oooh!" If you're overwhelmed, just try to think of one name you love -- even if it's a name you can't use, even if your cousin "stole" it or your husband knew a kid by that name who smelled funny.

Once you find a name that appeals to you, you can start to look for names that share that same spirit. If you love the classic elegance of Julian, you might look to other sleek gentleman names like Adrian or Dominic. If you like the contemporary androgyny of Emerson for a girl, that can point you to other surnames with girlish nicknames. The Baby Name Wizard book was created with this in mind, to help lead you from one name idea to a whole range of possibilities.

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How did you dream up this website? The idea behind the Baby Name Wizard book and web site ( is that there is more to a name than its linguistic origins.

When I was choosing names for my own kids, I was amazed by how many babies in my social circle were named Hannah, Sophie and Olivia -- and how many of their parents chose those names to be distinctive! I wanted to understand where that came from. What gives a name its unique style? What makes names go in an out of fashion? You can't get that from a traditional dictionary of name meanings and origins. It might be fascinating to learn your name's derivation in Old High German, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. If origins were everything, Olivia and Olive would be the same name.

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What I've tried to do with the website tools, including the NameVoyager graphs and Namipedia encyclopedia, is to paint a fuller picture of name style.

I'm not surprised at your success. But just how popular are you? This approach to names has really struck a chord. The Baby Name Wizard book has been the top seller in its category on Amazon since the first edition was published in 2005, and millions of people visit the Web site each year. Last year the site was named one of the 50 Best Web sites of 2009 by TIME Magazine. It was a real honor for an independent site like mine to be listed among the likes of Google and Amazon.

I love Latin-sounding names. What are some of the popular boys names from Italy/Spain?

You're in good company. Vowels are the key to modern naming fashion and that's made the smooth sound of Italian names appealing to parents around the world. A lot of parents are turning to Italian forms of familiar English names for a fresher sound. For instance, Matteo, the Italian variant of Matthew has been rising fast. Nico and Gianni are more eye-catching than Nick and Johnny. And I'll bet Leonardo appeals more than Leonard.

What do you do if your hubby loves a name and you hate it?

My team and I write a weekly column called Ask the Name Lady, and we get a lot of questions from couples who just can't agree on a name. The first rule of baby naming is that you should never choose a name that either of you truly can't stand. It's better to compromise and not get your first, second, or even third choice name than to have your child's name be a source of lingering resentment. A baby name should be a bridge to bonding with your child, not a roadblock. Rather than fighting over your favorites, try swapping lists of ideas and picking the best of each other's lists as your starting point.

What if you have name regret?

Namer's remorse is a surprisingly common problem among new parents. The stress of name worries is the last thing you need during those first sleepless weeks with a newborn. If you're debating changing your child's name, I can give you some reassurance: you'll be fine either way. If you stick with the name you chose, you'll probably find that it grows with your child and you'll learn to love it. On the flip side, if you truly feel that you made the wrong choice, it's not the end of the world to change a baby's name. Your baby surely won't mind, and your relatives will stop kidding you eventually. You can even send out a good-humored birth re-announcement, like this one suggested in my blog:

Birth Announcement, Take 2

On August 12th we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. Before he was born, we had expected that his name would be Jayden. Once we met him, we discovered we were mistaken. Who knew? He's actually:

Cooper Michael MacDowell
7 lbs, 4 oz.

Stephanie & Mike

(that birth re-announcement originally appeared at

Should we tell people our "name" before baby arrives or wait?

The reason to tell people in
advance is to learn from their opinions. Your friends and family represent your community, and their reactions represent that community's future reactions to your child's name. If those opinions factor into your name decision, by all means share. It's better to learn sooner than later that, say, people think "Little Mermaid" rather than "The Tempest" when they hear Ariel.

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But if you are absolutely set on a name and don't intend to listen to dissent, then why open the floodgates? Present the name with the baby, and it's a done deal. It's hard to say anything bad about a name when it's attached to an adorable infant.

What are some hot name trends for 2010?

After a decade of Aidans, Olivias and Emilys, vowels are still the biggest story in names today. For 2010, the letter "I" is shaping up to be the hottest letter. Isabella is riding high and names with strong "I" sounds like Lila, Wyatt, and Eli are rising fast.

Androgynous surnames for girls are still surging, and Taylor Swift's big year helped that style of name feel a little more established. Coming up, I expect to see more parents reaching past the popular -son and -er endings to names like Ellery and Carrigan.

Check out the BabyNameWizard naming tool on Momtrends.

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