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Brainstorming for Baby Names

Many people begin their baby name search by flipping through books and clicking through websites. Scanning long, alphabetical lists of names will work for some, but will make others feel confused and overwhelmed.

If you're in the latter group and you dread diving back into that sea of names, try asking yourself some of the questions below. If you can identify the types of names you like before you start searching, you should have a much easier time staying focused and optimistic.

In terms of names, do you prefer...

Classic or Quixotic?

Do you like the staples, or do you want your child's name to stand out? Classic names like Elizabeth, James, Emma and Charles never seem to go out of style. Quixotic names like Liberty, Ogden, Saskia and Taliesin never seem to be in style -- they've never been popular, and probably never will be. The classics are safe, solid choices, but some view them as boring. Quixotic names can be seen as artsy and individualistic...or just plain weird. It all depends on your point of view.

Old-fashioned or Of-the-moment?

Do you like names that are associated with a particular time period? For instance, names like Viola and Lester were popular around the turn of the 20th century, names like Donna and Susan ranked high mid-century, and names like Jadyn and Kylie are currently trendy. For old-fashioned names, check out your family tree, or browse through the names of actors, musicians, authors and politicians of particular past eras. If 'now' names are more to your liking, check out your local newspaper's birth announcements.

Foreign or Domestic?

This one isn't about popularity, but about locality. Do you like names that sound exotic, or do you like names that are well-grounded in the place where you live? Would you take a chance with Johannes, Gunnar or Dmitri -- or would you rather play it safe with John, Gary or Daniel? Foreign names can be a fun way to express your heritage...but keep in mind that some are difficult to pronounce.

Formal or Familiar?

What sort of image do you want your child's name to project? Names like Zoe, Mia, Wyatt, and Chase can be punchy and fun, but they may not sound very professional or impressive to certain people. Names like Sebastian, Annabella, Nathaniel and Olivia sound prestigious to some, but pretentious to others. Though most names fall in between these two extremes, it will help you to know which side you prefer.

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