Choosing a name for your baby is one of the most special parts of parenthood—and one of those most daunting. For starters, you are naming a human being. For life. You want something unique, but not too unique, a name that will suit baby from infancy through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The pressure is on, but there are surefire ways to rock this baby-naming business. Read on for our best tips.

photo: Laura Logan Photography

Look to Family Ties
Begin your search by considering your own family tree. Choosing a family name has a number of benefits, from carrying on a legacy and honoring a loved one to imparting extra special significance to your little one’s name right from the start. Just be ready to navigate a common pitfall: Naming baby after a family member can create mixed feelings among others in the family. Tread lightly and use compassion, but remember, in the end, it’s your baby, your choice.

photo: Marty Haddig via Flickr

Seek Inspiration
If finding the perfect name seems overwhelming, think of it like a treasure hunt instead. It’s an adventure, and the treasure could be anywhere! Try a quick Google search or browse a naming website like Nameberry. Or, thumb through your favorite book, look up historical figures, or consider personally significant people or places. One mom we know stalked the TV credits of her favorite shows. Another browsed the keychains at Walt Disney World.

Create Criteria
Because you’ll be attuned to every name you hear, establishing a list of moniker must-haves will keep your list from getting too lengthy. Do you want a name that has a specific meaning, like “peace” or “strength”? Only want a name that starts with the letter J? A name with three syllables? Use your criteria both to find potential names and weed out others.

photo: Christy Lynne Photography

Consider the Classics
A safe way to avoid trends and reach baby-naming success is to look to the top 100 list put out by the Social Security Administration. The names include the 100 most-popular names for boys and girls every year in the past 100 years and include classics like James, David and William for boys and Elizabeth, Emily and Grace for girls.

Play Favorites
Once you and your partner have settled on potential names, ask yourself if you both absolutely adore each name. Not just like the name, but love the name. Once you have a set of faves, continue to narrow down the list the old-fashioned way: Write them down. (Or go high-tech and create an Excel spreadsheet.) Next, look up the meanings, say them each out loud (a name that sounds great on paper may not be as appealing when spoken), check out the initials and monogram, and try the first and middle names together to see how they sound.

photo: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

Talk It Out
In a perfect world, your child’s name would appear in the stars, and both parents-to-be would immediately agree it was The One. If only. Baby naming can be a hot topic between parents-to-be that can leave both parties feeling a little tense. Set ground rules at the start:

1) Be kind and open-minded.

2) Don’t belittle a partner’s choice.

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3) Rules out names with any negative connotation for either partner (we’re looking at you, exes and 7th grade gym teachers!).

4) Enjoy the process!

Once you’ve agreed to the rules, create a list of favorites separately, and then compare. Don’t love any of the same ones? Compromise by having one choose the first name and the other choose the middle name. (Then, switch that order if there is ever a baby #2.) Or, choose baby’s name the very easiest way of allby downloading an app! Babyname is the Tinder of the baby world. You both swipe right on names you like, left on names you don’t. When you have a match, it alerts you.

Celebrate
Breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate. You just named a human.

What do you think if the best way to choose a baby name? Share your advice below!

— Suzanna Palmer

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