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The Great Baby Name Debate

Winifred or Willow? Thomas or Troy? The name you choose for your child will last a lifetime. Whether you're looking for something original that will stand out from the crowd or a traditional name that people will instantly recognize, choosing a name for your new baby is a huge responsibility.

It goes without saying that you as the parents must like the name. Names that hold bad associations for you are out (Jeremy was a bore at school, you can't stand Bella in the Tweenies), and if you consider your own name uninteresting, you may wish to choose something more exotic - or vice versa.

Think carefully about combinations of first name and surname. Are they compatible? You may like a mixture of an unusual first name with a more familiar surname (Zara Phillips), but be careful about rhyming the two names - Mark Clarke won't thank you for it. Beware initials that could cause hilarity to your child's future friends - Ethan Thomas or Peter Oliver Ogilvie won't be joining in the giggles! Trying to be clever can also cause grief - Poppy Fields or Summer Winters may sound cute at the time, but can eventually grate on everyone's nerves!

If she's called Grace, will she turn out to be butter-fingered? Will Maximus grow into a Mr. Puniverse? Is Jordan a boy or a girl? What will Elizabeth grow up as? Lizzie? Beth? Liza? And as for Ashleigh, Ashley, Ashlee, Ashlea and Ashlie - all in circulation at the moment - how is anyone supposed to find a name that is both special and appropriate?

Fortunately, sources of inspiration can be found everywhere. You can avoid the throng of Chloes, Emilys, Jacobs and Jacks topping the baby name charts for the past few years, and choose from a huge variety of names collected in specialist books and on the Internet. Some parents prefer biblical names - Rebecca, Abigail, Joshua, Samuel and Joseph are all very popular at the moment. Names inspired by nature include Blossom, Lily or Skye and even Tiger for boys. Place names (Paris, Lamorna), colours (Coral, Ebony), astronomy, music, and sport - all provide a wealth of ideas and choice.

Naming twins presents its own set of challenges. You may wish to link the names in some way using the same first letter (Jack and Jill?) or a theme such as Liberty and Faith, or even similar names like Leo and Eleonora. However, you might end up having two very independent children who don't wish to be connected by name as well as birthday. A less obvious connection involves using different names with similar meanings such as Columba and Jemima (both meaning dove), or Jonathan and Matthew (gift of God).

For those of us who still haven't decided even when the stork delivers, the arrival of your newborn may give you all the inspiration you need! Christmas babies often appear as Noel or Noelle, Natalie or Natasha, nighttime births produce star inspired names such as Stella, Esther or Sterling, and for thankful parents after a difficult birth, Nathaniel (gift of God), Abigail (father's joy) or Miranda (wonderful) might fit the bill.

So whether you plump for Clifford or Condor, Harriet or Harmony, have fun choosing that special name - and with careful thought, your child will grow up bearing a name you can all be proud of!

Claire Kolarova is a busy mother, teacher and webmaster of http://www.littlekidsgamesonline.com, where you can also find baby shower game ideas and resources.

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