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For as long as people have been having children, parents have been faced with the same daunting decision: what to name their little bundle of joy. Parents of yester-year had to rely on baby name books, polling family members or friends, or even, in an act of desperation, pulling a name out of a hat. But expectant parents today have an additional indispensable tool in their baby-naming arsenal, which might be revolutionizing the way we choose the all-important moniker for our offspring: the Internet.
After creating a short-list from sites like the BabyNamer, parents are increasingly turning to Google and other online sites to get a sense of what names might be ideal for their little ones -- and which ones spell disaster. For guidance on how to do it, we turned to Jennifer Moss, Founder and CEO of BabyNames.com -- and a former computer programmer! -- who gave us the scoop on using cyberspace to name your baby.
Use Google to avoid names with negative historical associations. There are certain names in society that are simply considered taboo, so type your suggested name into Google to make sure your name isn’t one of them. Most folks would do a double take at anyone named Adolf for obvious reasons, ditto for Osama and Dahmer. In fact, one couple recently lost custody of their child for trying to change his name to Adolf Hitler.) Do your due diligence before your child ends up with a moniker than might inadvertently scar him for life.
Look at the rest of the search results -- and then follow your gut. Assuming your proposed name doesn’t have an immediately alarming association, then page through the rest of the results to see what else comes up. If your first 25 search results lead to a porn star, you might want to reconsider. And while some parents might write-off the name Jenna because there are so many hits to Jenna Jameson, Moss says that’s not necessarily a reason to bag it. “If your last name is James I would probably recommend against that name, but there are plenty of regular people with that name.” Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you have reservations about the name, then move on.
Test your name in an online community. Avoid polling family members or friends to see what they think of proposed names; Moss says the results can be skewed because “people might try to please you, or at least not hurt your feelings.” Instead, turn to an online community -- like an iVillage Expecting Club -- to test the waters with people outside of your circle and see how the name plays among people in from a wide-range of backgrounds.
Research your ancestry online for name inspiration. If you and your partner are a bit stumped in the name department, you might find some inspiration in your personal history. Ancestry.com can be a great way to track your genealogy while at the same time hunting for interesting baby name ideas. Moss says first and last names can often spark amazing names. If doing an entire genealogy sounds daunting, think about asking one of the grandparents for help. Also check and see whether a relative has already tracked your shared ancestry online, so you -- and your baby! -- can benefit from their hard work.
Peruse IMDB for fictional name inspiration. If you’ve always dreamed about naming your child after a character in a beloved film or TV show, imdb.com (Internet Movie Database) can help you find the perfect moniker. Simply go to the site, enter your favorite movie or show, and peruse the list of character names. You might just find the perfect one.
Visit the social security web site. Want to know how your chosen name stacks up popularity-wise, or simply looking for name inspiration? Check out the baby names section of the Social Security Administration’s Web site. Click here for a treasure trove of baby name information, including a way to search for the most popular names by state, the most popular names for twins and a chance to see how a name’s popularity has changed over time.
Register your child’s domain name and secure an email account. For many of us, it’s a bummer when we try to pick an email address or create a website and discover that someone else with the same name has already snatched it. Help your kiddo avoid the same disappointment by registering a domain name (through a site like godaddy.com, for only $9.99 the first year) as well as a free email account through Gmail or another site once you have decided on a name. (One note: Don't use your child's actual birthday; online child protection laws will prevent you from registering for it if she's under age 13.) Moss just warns parents not to be disappointed if their child doesn’t want to use it when they get older. “It’s a nice thing to have, but kids often want to their own thing when they get older.”
To get started finding names, check out the BabyNamer and join an iVillage Expecting Club to discuss your top picks with other moms-to-be.