Pick a name that makes a positive first impression. That’s something your child needs on a blind date, a college application or a resume.
Pick a versatile name that can “grow” with your child. Different variations of the name can be appropriate for different stages of your child’s life–or in different (formal or informal) situations.
Pick a middle name that also provides a strong “fall-back” option. You never know when your child might need a new “handle.”
Pick a first and middle name combination that look and sound well with your last name. Make sure the initials work well too.
Avoid names that invite teasing. Test your “short list” of favorite names on kids for that purpose.
Avoid names that might embarrass your child. If a name you are considering causes your friends to laugh or say, “You must be kidding,” it’s time to stop joking about your child’s name.
Avoid names that are on the latest top-10 popularity list. Names that are “too popular” create the impression you are following the crowd. (In all likelihood you probably are–without even knowing it.)
Avoid names that are hard to spell and/or pronounce. They won’t make your child “unique” or “special”; they are more likely to be a source of frustration.
Avoid names that are confusing as to gender; especially if they are more often used for the other gender.
Avoid names whose literal meaning is not appropriate for your child. For example, if your child has a dark complexion, don’t pick a name that means “white” or “fair” like Jennifer or Blanche. Or, if the reverse, don’t pick Raven or Ebony.
Be careful when picking an unusual or uncommon name. Make extra sure friends, acquaintances and strangers perceive the name as “cool” or “charming” rather than “crazy” or “weird.”
Be careful about names your family, ethnic or religious tradition suggests to you. It’s more important to find a name that will work well for your child than to pick a name that pleases a relative or clergyman.