By Angele Sionna, National Early Childhood Parenting Columnist,

The decision is one of the hardest, yet most important you’ll ever make – what to name your baby. It seems easy and straightforward, right – I mean it’s just a name. We all have one. How hard could this be? No pressure – but your decision will impact and influence their entire life.

A person’s name says a lot about them and is the first impression to their future teachers, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, you name it. It can influence how people treat them and even a career choice. And a name can go a long way. Studies have shown that the names of things and people influence how they are seen, from strong to beautiful.

So the first and best gift you can give your child is a good name. A name that reflects your hopes and dreams for them. A name that reflects who they are and where they come from in balance with where they are going.

For my husband and I, names are a big topic of conversation, bordering on obsession. We turn to maps, dictionaries, name books, street signs, you name it. We analyze each word, what it means, what it looks like and would it compliment our last name. We make list upon list of words and places that we like in both English and other languages. We look through photographs we’ve taken on our travels together. Anything is a possible source of inspiration.

Ava, Ellerie and Jerry SionnaThen it’s a matter of refining as well as discussions on how to spell the name for maximum impact and nickname tests. (Potential negatives weigh in heavily in our decisions. Are the nicknames ones we can live with and they can too?) We want the perfect balance of strong, passionate, independence, classic, European-esque and for girls femininity and boys manliness. Nothing too weird, but nothing too common.

Of course, you can’t predict name trends and if you love a name there’s nothing wrong with using it just because it’s popular. That’s what happened with our daughter Ava’s name. We loved the name for years. It went well with our last name but then it got really popular. We debated how much that mattered to us and realized that if paired with a really cool and unique middle name, it wouldn’t matter at all. And Ava Sionna was born.

For our second daughter, we wanted a name that went with her sister’s name but wasn’t sing-songy or the like. We went back to our original list to see what still felt right, but we ended up with a whole new list and no repeats. We decided we loved the English boys name Ellery, but we wanted to make it more feminine and wanted to honor our favorite grandmothers. My grandma’s name was Valerie and my husband’s was Lois. We decided the L aka “el” from Lois mixed with the “erie” from Valerie would become Ellerie. And we ended up with another beauty – Ellerie Ireland.

Our third (and final) child is currently “in the oven,” due this summer. This time – a boy. We’ve decided on a name that reflects part of our heritage and our getting married in Scotland and is on the top 10 list for boys in the UK but in America doesn’t even scratch the top 1000 list. He will be named Callum. His middle name is still up for debate as we continue trying to balance the traits, places, history and ambitions we want to reflect in his name and honor him with. After all, we still have a few months to go and wouldn’t want to cut his options short. Time now to go hit that stack of maps, dictionaries and family tree and finish up this most important decision.

Did you like this post? Check out Angele’s Baby Name of the Day feature on her parenting column for more name discussions. You can also read her parenting tips, product reviews and more on everything from pregnancy up through elementary school with new articles everyday at Start following Angele on Twitter @AngeleExaminer.

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  1. I completely agree with the huge job parents have when it comes to naming their kids. My husband is more about dictionary meaning, I'm more about personal meaning. We both want to stay clear of popular or strange names. I'm a fan of multi syllable names. The first initial can't be the same as our last name (B) and can't be the initial of anyone else in our family. The first name can't be a family name, but a name that is uniquely about our child. Had to work as an adult name also, nothing too cutesy. We saved family names for middle names. And this is what we ended up with:

    Our eldest daugher (Veriity Ellen) is named from a character in a Minnette Walters book that I enjoy – I actually had the author sign the book I was reading when I picked the name last time she was in town. Ellen is a family name on my husbands side

    Our son (Mannix Theron Kofi) is named for the 1970s suave ladies man TV show detective (it was a coin toss with Theron that my husband liked) and Kofi was because my son arrived on Friday 'born on a Friday'

    Our youngest daughter (Rane Peta) through everything out the window. It was a 1 syllable name, not gender specific, odd spelling, baby book type of name. But we loved it – and it did rain when she arrived too.

    I still love their names and they get complemented on them often. Hopefully they will still love them as adults too.

    Oh by the way maccallum was one of the names I had on our son's name list – a forensic scientist in a detective series I was reading. Great article.

  2. All three of your children have beautiful names: very unique (but not too wierd!), strong names that have a simple elegance. Thanks for the article!

  3. All three of your children have beautiful names: very unique (but not too wierd!), strong names that have a simple elegance. Thanks for the article!

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