Baby Name Advice Column: Ask the Name Lady Baby Name Blog

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My Surname Doesn't Go With the Names I Like

Someone once told me that I need to keep my new last name in mind when picking baby names -- I shouldn't pick a name that ends with the same sound as my last name. Problem is, my last name is now Urban -- and there are so many names that I love that end in -an or -en. Would it really be so wrong to use one of those names?

My sympathies, Mrs. U. You've run into one of the stumbling blocks of modern style. As our first names start to sound more and more like last names, matching them with our actual last names gets harder and harder. You don't want a little Brayden Hayden, Bailey Dailey, or Paxton Saxton.

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My First Child's Name is Perfect - Now What?

I recently had a baby and named him Calder. We love the name but have been having a hard time thinking of names that we could use for his future siblings. Other names we considered for him are Magnus (nn. Gus), Camden and if he was a girl Ainsley, Penelope or Amelie. None of these seem to go as well as I expected now that we actually have a son named Calder. Can you suggest sibling names?

- Calder's Mom

So, Calder just seems to have something "extra"? A lot of parents feel that way about their first-born's name. In this case, though, I think you're on to something. Here's one way to think about it: What makes Calder so different from other surname-based names like Carter or Parker? And here's one answer: Art.

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The fastest rising baby names of the year

The new national baby name rankings were just revealed, with Jacob remaining #1 for boys and Emma taking over the top spot for girls. But if you really want to know what's going on with American names, you have to look past the top 10 to the movers and shakers -- the names that rose the fastest.

The hottest names are a little time capsule of 2008. They show us where style is headed, and remind us of moments throughout the year, from the silly to the serious. Courtesy of BabyNameWizard.com, here are America's top dozen fastest rising baby names:

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I Think I Gave My Baby the Wrong Name!

I think I gave my baby the wrong name! My dh and I liked the name Madison so much that we settled early on in pregnancy. Now our baby is here and I'm having serious second thoughts. They are taking over my time and energy and I can't shake this feeling. I would like to change her name but everyone thinks I'm crazy. My son said her name fast and it sounded like medicine and now I've picked it apart. My dh doesn't care much for Lily which would have been a great option. I just want a beautiful name I love for my beautiful daughter.

Plenty of parents bring home a beautiful new baby and find that the beautiful new name they had picked out suddenly feels all wrong. Maybe the name sounds different when you say it 100 times a day. Maybe the name doesn't fit this particular child. Maybe the stress of new parenthood is making small problems loom large. Or maybe -- just maybe -- you chose the wrong name.

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When Your Favorite Name is "Taken"

I love my grandmother's middle name, but it is my cousin's first name (we are not very close). Dare I use it for my own daughter? If I were to use it, would my family think I was stealing the name from my cousin, or would they assume it was in her honor?

- E.

Sometimes choosing a baby name can seem like choosing an email user name. You start out thinking about the best choice, but pretty soon you're just hunting for something reasonable that hasn't been claimed yet. Isabella? Sister-in-law took it. Gabriella? Neighbor owns it. Aarghh!

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To Nickname or Not

If you like the shortened version of a name and would probably use that more often than the full version, is it better to just name your child the shortened version? I'm thinking about Lexi, short for Alexa/Alexis, but really prefer using Lexi to the longer version.

- C.

If you've posed the nickname question to frends and family, I'll bet you've heard this piece of advice: Insert your baby's name into the statement "Ladies and Gentleman, President Lexi Smith" or "All rise for the Honorable Lexi Jones." The idea is that a name that sounds cute on a little kid may not be serious enough for grownup occasions. Most often, you'll find that the formal name suits the formal occasion best.

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Those Dreamy Jonas Brothers Names

If I had three boys I would name them after the Jonas Brothers! Is that wrong? I love those names and what they mean, even their last name, Jonas.

-j.n.

If you're wrong, you're certainly not alone. In fact, I can almost hear the voices of other young readers shouting "Hands off, those names are mine!"

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Old-fashioned baby names, or old ladies?

I love pretty, but also "cute" and old fashioned names. My favorites are Mae, Delia, and Daisy. My husband says that all he can picture when he hears these names is a little old lady. He likes more familiar names like: Elizabeth, Lisa, Sarah, or Samantha. I want something with more of that cute quality as well as an old fashioned feel, but also something that doesn't bring to mind an old lady.

- Yet another Jennifer

Curious, isn't it? Men seem fine with girls' names that are sleek or frilly, casual or formal. But the minute a name carries the slightest whiff of old lady, they run scared. I'll leave it to the reader to probe this psychological tidbit. In the meantime you need a name, and we can't have your poor husband checking his baby's head for gray hairs. So are there sweet, old-fashioned names that won't trigger grandma-phobia?

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Naming Baby After Dad - Classic or Showy?

My wife and I are considering naming our son after me and calling him EJ for Eric Junior.

What is the history of passing down the father's name to his son and is it considered pretentious today?

- Dad-to-be

Fifty years ago, no one would have even asked me this question. Boys named for their Dads were as common as meatloaf and green beans. A dad-to-be in 1959 knew that no one would second-guess his motives for giving his son his own name. How could anyone have a problem with tradition, family history, and an unbreakable bond spanning generations?

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