The Name Game

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.

Scroll to Top