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Naming your baby

Before registering your baby's birth, you have to first choose a name, and as many parents know, it is not necessarily an easy thing to do. Don't wait until your new bundle of joy's name appears on a birth certificate to decide you made a mistake.

Some couples know before pregnancy the name they want to give their child, while others aren't sure even after their baby is born. What many parents may not know is that there is a deadline for naming their baby: a baby born in England, Wales and Northern Ireland needs to be registered within 42 days of birth, but a baby born in Scotland must be registered within 21 days of birth.

Finding inspiration

Before you find yourself choosing a name out of desperation, take some time to think about names. Choosing a name that both parents agree on can take weeks, even months, of negotiation. Inspiration can come from a character in a book or film, a sports figure, a hero or a celebrity, for example. However, if the mum is a fan of the film Frozen and prefers Elsa for a little girl, but the dad is a football supporter and prefers Becky, it may be time to look elsewhere for some common ground.

You could follow in the footsteps of royalty and look to your family trees for inspiration, as is the case when Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, named Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. Charlotte may be derived from Charles, the name of former kings and Prince William's father, but it is also the middle name of Kate's sister Pippa.

Many parents turn to their own ancestry and heritage when choosing baby names, and often an ancestor's last name is used as a first name or middle name. Other parents prefer choosing a name randomly, one that they like the sound of, and there are plenty of baby name books and websites to provide inspiration.

Regardless of the reason you choose a name, make sure it doesn't have a meaning your child wouldn't like, such as Stockard meaning 'tree stump'.

Avoiding the pitfalls

A popular name such as Olivia or Harry might seem like a good choice. That is until your Olivia or Harry is in school with another two Olivias or Harrys in the same class. Conversely, following in the footsteps of some celebrities and giving your baby an unusual name such as Apple, a name chosen by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, is likely to lead to a lifetime of questions and possible teasing for the apple of your eye.

When choosing first and middle names, don't forget to think about how it works with the baby's last name. There's nothing wrong with Wendy as a first name, but if your last name is House, your little girl may not forgive you. Holly is a popular choice for girls born around Christmas time, but it may not be the most advisable name if your last name happens to be Wood.

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