An expectant couple has a lot to consider, and naming the little bundle of joy is among the most important. Choosing a name for your child has lifelong effects and should be carefully considered.

Some people are organized and methodical and may even create flow charts and tables listing potential names for the child. Others may make lists and dream about names that will suit their little darling. My grandmother always said to be sure to go to the back door and yell the potential name a few times before you settle on it because you’ll be doing that quite a lot for the next few years.

Some of the traditional ways of selecting a name include naming after a relative or a famous person. If you decide to name your baby after someone, you may want to consider if the name is appealing. Some names sound old fashioned and that’s fine if it’s fine with you. If you want to name your baby after someone you love but who’s name is, well, odd, you might want to modify the name. You could shorten it or use a derivative. For example, your favorite grandpa was named Willard. You loved him dearly, but the name just doesn’t suit you. You could name the baby Will or William and honor your grandfather, but give the baby a name you love, too.

Other parents want to select a name based on its meaning. The best way to find a name that has a meaning you want is to use a baby naming book that has an index for meanings or to search online. Also remember that names may have different meanings in different languages. In our global world, this should be considered, too. Your baby may grow up to be an ambassador or the international sales rep for a big company. Don’t limit her possibilities with a name that has a bad meaning in another language.

Another possibility for name selection is to choose a popular name that you like. This method may mean that your child and 20 others in his class share a given name. Name popularity goes in cycles and very trendy names can give a clue to a person’s age later in life. This is particularly true of women’s names, it seems. However, some names are classics and are perennially popular. Names such as David, Mary, John, and Anne are classics.

Some parents want to “create” a special name for their child and use odd spellings for more common names or put sounds together forming a name that sounds pleasant to them. This form of choosing a name holds many risks. Do you really want to doom your child to a lifetime of spelling his name every time he or she gives it out on the telephone or when introduced? Also remember that children can be cruel, and rhyming games are among their favorites. Consider the consequences of a name that rhymes “bad.”

As you consider names, another thing to take into consideration is nicknames or shortened forms of names. At least consider that your child could be called by the shortened form. If you don’t like that, you may want to rethink the name you’ve selected.

Finally, you may want to look your baby in the eye before finally settling on a name. Many parents have changed their minds when they see their baby because she “just didn’t look like an Amy.” Consider having more than one finalist, just in case this happens to you.

The Bible says in Proverbs, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” It’s talking about having an honorable reputation, but given names are valuable, too. Your child will thank you for choosing his or her name wisely. It is a gift that lasts a lifetime.