A baby's name is for life, not just for a birthday – even if you give your child a howler, and they contact Deed Poll on their 18th, the memories of playground teasing will haunt them for life. Your little one deserves a beautiful name that will elicit gasps and coos from family and friends now, but still sound suitable in the years to come. Make sure you give them just that by avoiding all the baby naming pitfalls.
Here are all the things NOT to do. Ignore them at your child's peril...
DON'T pick a Christian name that rhymes with your surname. Mark Park, Bryce Price and Brian Ryan are going to give their schoolmates endless hours of fun. If it rhymes – bin it. Also exercise caution if you have twins, triplets or more – Billy, Milly and Lily might not thank you for your 'cuteness' in years to come.
DON'T make jokes. Henrietta Lott and Holly Wood might make you and your partner titter when you fill in the birth certificate, but how on earth is your child going to explain your 'wacky' sense of humour to prospective employers in the future – not to mention potential girlfriends and boyfriends? Just say no.
DON'T ignore initials. We're willing to bet that Bella Ursula Masters, Pam Mary Stewart and Charles Ray Anthony Parkinson never buy a personalised chain to proudly display their initials around their necks. Never (ever!) choose a baby's name without checking what the initials spell out. And always check the initial(s) against your baby's surname – here's betting A. Burke and M.Y. Butt wish their parents had done the same.
DON'T name your baby to express your own identity. You might be the kind of kooky parent who would have loved a name like Pocahontas Sunshine or Birchard Byron, but what if your daughter or son is the shy, retiring type, mortified by their mum and dad's outlandish antics? If you want to inject some of your own personality into your baby's name, consider a funky middle name and choose a first name that is unusual, but not barmy.
DON'T invent a name. If the names Renesme and Princess Tiaamii mean anything to you, you'll know that made-up names can be cringeworthy to say the least. Remember that a child with a completely unique name will spend his or her life explaining it to strangers – which does get boring. You also need to be extra careful that your made-up moniker doesn't mean something offensive or obscene in another language.
DON'T be bullied. This is your baby – not your mum's, or your mother-in-laws. Although it's important that you and your partner agree on a name, it doesn't matter whether your extended family like the name or not. Chances are, it will grow on them eventually, and you shouldn't be bullied into choosing a name that they like.
DON'T name your child after your current celeb crush. You may be a massive fan, but make sure that you genuinely love the name you're giving your child, rather than naming them to make a statement about your own fandom. Like a tattoo, a name is going to last for years - and if your Orlando Bloom fixation fades, imagine how embarrassed you'll be about giving your kid that name in the heat of the moment.
DON'T follow the herd. Names that are trendy now – like Hayden, Jayden and Rihanna (no, really), won't be in vogue for long. A name that you have always loved, or that has hung around in the baby name charts for decades, is more likely to stand the test of time.
DON'T ignore playground humour. I know that it won't be long before my son (Eliott Jude) gets "Smeliott Pooed" in the playground. I figured he could weather that storm, but it's certainly worth thinking about the hideous nicknames your darling offspring will pick up as a consequence of the name you gave them.
DON'T name your child Facebook. An Egyptian family did just that in February 2011, reportedly to 'express gratitude for the victory of Egypt's youth over the autocratic regime'. Giving your baby a name that makes a bold political statement, or is designed to shock, stun and baffle (think: Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii – yes, it's a real name), is an extremely risky business. Unless you want to end up justifying your actions to the world's media, think carefully before you go completely off kilter.
The names they wish you'd never cursed them with
What's the betting these kids get a hard time in the playground?