Dear Father Hood: we’re struggling to agree on a baby name, got any advice?
Ooh, I like this one. Maybe you could name your little one after the place it was conceived? Or do that ‘what’s your porn star name?’ thing, where you combine the name of your first pet with the road you grew up on? (FYI, I’d be Abigail Woodfield). Or, you know, perhaps I could stop messing around and give this question the respect it deserves?
Yes, I did just use the word respect, and I used it because – provided you don’t pick a baby name that’s so bad your child opts to do a legal switcheroo via the deed poll service – the name you select is going to stay with your kid for 70, 80, 90 or even 100 years. That’s big. It’s massive. It’s absolutely gigantic. And due to this magnitude, the first golden nugget of advice I’ll offer up is…
Don’t rush your decision
I say this, because my wife and I took our time and we’re the greatest parents in the history of humanity. Fear not, the latter part of that sentence is a joke. The former isn’t, however. Despite various people pressuring us to name our son the second we severed the umbilical cord, we waited quite a few weeks. Hold on. Is that legal? Yup, it sure is. Contrary to some people’s belief, you don’t have to brand the baby as soon as he or she leaves the birth canal. The law actually states that you need to register your son or daughter within 21 days of their birth if you live in Scotland and 42 days if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Conclusion? If you’re still not certain whether your offspring looks like a Derek or a Desmond when you leave the hospital, don’t panic. Simply block out the crowd noise and take the time you need to come to the correct decision.
What’s that? You want more help? Okay, okay. Here are some other thoughts that whistled through my brain during the naming process.
Consider the surname
No, I’m not talking about obvious stuff like making sure you don’t call your offspring Peter Peters or Adam Hole. I’m talking about considering whether the baby’s surname reflects both you and your partner’s heritage. For example, my last name is Hood. And while this suggests a British background, it doesn’t exactly scream Asia, which is where his mum comes from. Subsequently, we decided that giving him an Eastern first name would provide a far better summation of his personal history than calling him Scott or Hamish Hood.
It’s silly to worry about ‘popular baby name’ lists
When I was a student I used to bet on horse races. In my head, this hobby was going to turn my student loan into a deposit on a two-bedroom flat with a nice view. In reality, I was rubbish. There were a number of reasons for this, with the main one being the fact I’d refuse to back a horse I fancied if I found out it was a really short price. If you’re not au fait with betting lingo, this means I used to decide on a horse I liked and then go off it when I found out other people liked it too. I think we can all agree that this is ridiculous. And if this is the case, then we can also all agree that going off the name you’ve set your heart on because you’ve discovered it’s one of the most popular baby names of the year doesn’t really make sense either.
Think of the nickname
Who can be bothered saying two whole syllables when you can get someone’s attention with just one? In today’s emoticon-obsessed world the answer is pretty much no-one. This means your child’s name is almost guaranteed to be shortened at some point in the early stages of his or her life. And this means it’s wise to choose a name that comes with a mini version you like as much or better than the full one.
What does the name mean?
The moment I found out Eastern names had cool meanings like ‘star’, ‘King’, ‘desert storm’, ‘commander’ and ‘Prince’ I did two things. I Googled the meaning of my own name (disappointingly, Stuart is French for ‘a steward’). And I added a must have an awesome meaning caveat to our search. Sure, this slowed the process down a little. But when all was said and done it really helped us to pinpoint the right name for our son. And what did we go for in the end? Well, now you’re asking we plumped for Shakil, which means ‘handsome’ in Arabic and ‘you’d better become a film star or model and make mummy and daddy very rich’ in Scottish.