Creating a Unique Baby Name for Your Child

Examples, Pros and Cons, and Naming Strategies

Choosing a name for your baby can be a stressful process, and if you’re hoping to land on a unique baby name, the process can feel even tougher.

First, where do you gain inspiration for developing a unique name? After all, you can’t look at baby name books or online lists since by definition, any name you find there isn’t unique.

Developing a unique name on your own might leave you feeling a little stumped. Fortunately, there are some strategies that can help you narrow down your options and create a name that you think fits your baby just perfect.

Before you dive into choosing your baby’s name, however, it’s important to consider how the name you pick might impact your child’s life.

Unique baby names
 Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell 

Your Baby’s Name Matters

Your baby’s name matters in more ways than one. Throughout your child’s life, people will form an impression of who he or she is based on their name.

Every time your child submits a job application, sends an email, and introduces herself on the phone, the person on the other end will form an instant impression of her. They might predict her income, education, and attractiveness based on her first name only. But it’s not just other people’s impressions you should care about.

Studies show that your child’s name may have a big impact on how she sees herself.

1:11

Moms Share Advice On Picking Your Baby's Name

Why It Matters

The name might influence everything from how popular your child is among peers to the career choice he or she makes.

Here’s what the research says about how names influence people throughout their lives:

  • Your test scores and college admission might depend on your placement in the alphabet. A 2010 study conducted by researchers in the Czech Republic found that students with last names that are low in the alphabet tended to get higher test scores. But, students whose last names were closer to the beginning of the alphabet were still more likely to get admitted to competitive colleges. 
  • You might make impulse purchases if you’re near the end of the alphabet. A 2013 study found that people with last names that are near the end of the alphabet are more likely to take advantage of promotional strategies like limited-time offers.
  • Middle initials make you sound smart. In a 2014 study, students were asked to rate authors based on their names. Authors with a middle initial received high marks but the one with the most initials, David F.P.R. Clark, received the best reviews overall. The authors of the study concluded that people who use middle initials are perceived as smarter and better performers than others.
  • Boys with girls' names are more likely to get suspended. Boys with names that are commonly assigned to girls (like Sue) tend to misbehave more in middle school. The behavior problems were also associated with increased peer disciplinary problems and reduced peer test scores, indicating that their negative behavior disrupted the students around them.
  • You may gravitate toward cities that resemble your name. A 2002 study found that people were disproportionately likely to live in places that sounded similar to their first or last names. People named Louis, for instance, are more likely to live in St. Louis. 
  • You might choose a career that reminds you of your name. The same study that found you might live in a city that sounds like your name found that you’re also more likely to gravitate toward a career that reminds you of your name. For example, individuals named Dennis and Denise are overrepresented among dentists. A follow-up study conducted in 2003, however, did not replicate those findings.
  • Your name might stunt your success. A 2007 study found that people unconsciously desire to name-resembling performance outcomes so much that they undermine their success at times. For example, baseball players whose name begins with K strike out more than others (K signifies at strikeout). Students whose names begin with letters associated with poorer performance (C and D) achieve lower grand point averages than students whose names begin with an A or B. This was especially true if the students liked their initials.

Research on Unique Names

If you grew up in the early 80s with a name like Jennifer or Michael, you know what it’s like to have several kids in your class with the same name. Or, if you named your child Sophia or Jackson a few years ago, you probably know several other kids with the same name.

While there’s nothing wrong with having a common name, some parents want their baby to have a special name. After all, individuals like Oprah and Madonna only need to go by their first name to know who they are. And many people wonder, did having a unique name help them stand out from the crowd?

Unique baby names are on the rise. A 2010 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science confirmed that parents have been increasingly giving their children less common names since the 1990s.

Jean Twenge, co-author of the study and author of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, said, “Parents used to give their children common names so they would fit in and their names would be easy to pronounce and spell. Now, they give their child a unique name so their kid will stand out and be a star.”

While standing out from the crowd may sound good on the surface, Twenge argues that it may also inspire kids to think they’re extra special to the point that it becomes detrimental.

Twenge’s co-author, Keith Campbell, says, “Unique names may have some benefits such as creating a more individual identity, but they run the risk of promoting separateness, which is linked to narcissism.” 

There are some studies that indicate unique names could have some potential drawbacks. Here’s what the research reveals about people with unique names:

  • They’re viewed as less likable. A 2008 study found that people with unique names were viewed as less likable by their peers. They were also less likely to be hired for jobs.
  • They’re more likely to have a lower status at work. A 2012 study found that individuals with more common names were likely to have higher-status positions at work. The study also found that when people’s names were difficult to pronounce, they were more likely to have lower-status positions. 
  • They’re more likely to be juvenile delinquents. A 2009 study at Shippensburg University found that kids with less common names were more likely to engage in juvenile delinquency. The researchers acknowledge that uncommon names aren’t likely to cause kids to commit crime, but there may be a correlation with the factors that increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency, such as low socioeconomic status and disadvantaged home environment. They also suggest that kids with unpopular names may be treated differently by their peers, which may make it difficult for them to form relationships.

Things to Consider When Developing a Unique Name

Clearly, your child’s name isn’t something you should take lightly. It’s important to put a lot of thought into what your child is going to be called.

It’s important to consider your child’s name from all angles. No one wants to be surprised by the fact that their toddler’s initials are B.A.D. (or worse yet, an inappropriate word).

Write down the name you’re considering. Think about how others might pronounce the name or how it might sound when combined with a middle and last name. 

While running the name past other people may lead to some negative reactions that aren’t helpful, like, “Oh I hate that name!” you might want to tell a few people to ensure you aren’t overlooking something.

Here are some things you’ll want to review before landing on a name:

  • The length of the name and how many syllables it has.
  • How easy it is to spell.
  • How easy it is to pronounce.
  • Your child’s initials.
  • Your other childrens' names.
  • Whether you want the name to be gender-neutral.
  • Your child’s last name and how it sounds with the first.
  • Your child’s middle name and how it all sounds together.
  • What your child’s name rhymes with (other kids can be ruthless when it comes to nicknames like Fatty Patty).
  • Nicknames and what you want your child to be called.

Celebrity Examples

When it comes to unique baby names, celebrities don’t disappoint. You might gain a little inspiration from familiarizing yourself with some of the names celebrities are giving to their kids. Here are just of the unique celebrity baby names we’ve heard over the years:

  • Luna Simone – Child of John Legend and Chrissy Teigan
  • Pilot Inspektor – Child of Jason Lee and Bet Riesgraf
  • Blue Ivy – Child of Jay Z and Beyonce
  • Exton – Child of Robert Downey, Jr., and Susan Downey
  • Seargeoh – Child of Sylvester Stallone and Sasha Czack
  • Bear Blu – Child of Christopher Jarecki and Alicia Silverstone
  • Sparrow James Midnight – Child of Joel Madden and Nicole Richie
  • Reign – Child of Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian
  • Rumer, Scout, and Talluluah Belle – Children of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore
  • Stormi – Child of Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott

How to Create Your Baby’s Unique Name

If you’re feeling a bit stumped when it comes to naming your baby something original, there are many places you can turn to gain some ideas.

Combine Two Names

Think about a couple of names that you like and find a way to combine them. Let’s say your partner likes the name Liam and you’re a fan of Teddy, you might find that Tiam or Lieddy have a nice ring to them.

You also might combine the names of two people you love. If your mother’s name is Marilyn and your mother-in-law’s name is Theresa, you might land on Tarilyn as a good name.

If you’re stumped on how to combine two (or more) names, write them down. Seeing them written out may help you see your options a little clearer.

There are also websites that will combine names for you. At the very least, a name combining program can give you some ideas of how several names can be combined into one. 

Use a Last Name

Last names can be a rich source of name ideas. If you changed your last name when you got married, you might consider your maiden name—or a version of it.

But, it doesn’t necessarily have to be your last name. Think about the last names of other relatives, friends, or even celebrities.

Gain Inspiration From Foreign Names

You might find that your baby’s name doesn’t necessarily need to be unique to the whole planet. Instead, you might be happy with a name that’s uncommon in your language or in your region.

Look up baby names in other languages or foreign countries. You might decide to alter the pronunciation or you might want to change the spelling. But listening to names you’re unfamiliar with is a great way to gain inspiration.

Use a Unique Spelling

You might decide the best way to add a bit of uniqueness to your child’s name is by spelling a common name in an uncommon way. 

Emily can easily be spelled Emmalee, Emely, Emilee, or Emilie. Kaden could be spelled Caden, Caiden, Kaeden, Kaiden, or Kayden. So consider adding a little flair to your child’s name by using a non-traditional spelling.

Pick an Object

You might gain some inspiration for a unique name by simply looking around at the objects in your home. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, for example, may have found some inspiration in the kitchen when they named their daughter Apple.

Look around at everyday objects in each room and see if anything seems to have a nice ring to it. Keep colors in mind too. For example, Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo named one of their children Dusty Rose and Sting and Frances Tomelty named their child Fuschia.

Choose a Place

While Paris Hilton made the capital of France a popular name, you can still find plenty of places that make unique baby names. Bono and Ali Hewson named their child Memphis Eve.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West named one of their children Chicago. Another child is named North, as in North West.

So consider naming your child after the place you grew up, the city where you fell in love, or any other place that sounds like it makes a great name.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources