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The Perfect Name

How Moms and Dads Decide

More than 17,000 parents responded to a survey by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, coauthors of Baby Names Now: From Classic to CoolThe Very Last Word on First Names:

Where did you look for inspiration when choosing a name for your child?
22% My own imagination
22% Baby-naming books
14% Friends' and family's opinions
13% The family tree
10% Television, movies, books, music
8% The Internet
7% The Bible or another religious source
3% Celebrities' names or the names of their children
1% The dictionary or atlas

What's your feeling about the popularity of names?
37% I don't like popular names, so I chose a name that some people would consider old-fashioned or unusual
36% I like names that sound stylish but have a little twist to help them stand out
13% I like popular names and chose one that would help my child fit in with her peers
14% I wanted my child to have a name no one else would have, so I invented something unique

How important was your ethnic background in choosing a name?
77% Not important
17% Somewhat important: I tried to find a name I liked that reflected my ethnicity
6% Essential: My child had to have a name that reflected my ethnic background

How closely did you and your spouse agree on names?
41% We had some disagreements but could find a lot of names we both liked
36% We agreed completely
12% We had totally different tastes in names
11% We didn't even try to agree—one of us picked the name alone

How did you and your spouse resolve the name decision?
59% We found a name we both loved
19% We compromised on a name we both could live with
17% Wife persuaded husband to go with her choice
5% Husband persuaded wife to go with his choice

How much pressure did you feel from your family or your in-laws when choosing your child's name?
66% They really left the name decision up to my spouse and me
28% Some—they made lots of name suggestions and were outspoken when they didn't like one of our name ideas
6% A lot—they expected my spouse and me to use the name they suggested

Did you pick a name from the family tree?
65% No
16% Yes, the baby is named after another close family member
11% Yes, but I used a family name from the distant past or changed a family name to suit my taste
8% Yes, the baby is named after me or my spouse

How much time did you spend thinking and talking about names?
44% A bit, but it wasn't a preoccupation
30% It was a favorite topic of conversation
17% Not much—I always knew which name I wanted to use for my child
9% Every minute of the entire nine months—and beyond!

At what point did you make your final decision?
51% By the last few months of pregnancy I was sure of the name
29% I knew which name I was going to use from the very beginning
15% I decided on the name as soon as I saw the baby
5% I agonized until the hospital forced me to make a choice

How did you choose your child's middle name?
50% I chose a family name
35% I picked a name that sounded good with the first name
12% I chose a name I liked but not enough to use it first
3% I used my mom's surname as a middle name

What about nicknames?
39% I insist that my child be called by his full name and not a nickname
33% Everyone calls my child by a nickname whether I like it or not
28% I chose my child's name because I love the nickname