How To Give Your Baby a Meaningful Name

The best baby names are unique and packed with meaning. Here's how to choose yours.

When I got pregnant with my son Sebastian, I knew I wanted him to have a meaningful name. However, I’d already decided on his first name back when I still wore a training bra; it didn’t hold one single shred of meaning, but there was no talking me out of that one! So, I decided that his middle name would be Leonard in honor of my godfather who had passed away.

Naming your baby after a loved one, deceased or otherwise, is a no-brainer if you’re like me and think the best baby names contain stories within their letters. I plan on telling my son as much as I can about his great-uncle Leonard, and I hope that someday when Sebastian’s future children ask him about his middle name, he’ll recite the same tales I once did. My godfather’s memory will be thus kept alive, and there’s something pretty magical in that!

The key to giving your baby a meaningful name is identifying the message you want carried down for generations to come and using that as inspiration. Here are some ideas to get you started:

The miracle, or rainbow baby

Perhaps getting pregnant was a struggle for you, or maybe you’ve dealt with a pregnancy loss. In naming your miracle or rainbow baby, honor the broken road that brought you and your child together with a name that means miracle, blessing or gift from God.

Here are a few examples from The Healthy Mummy:

Girls

  • Amari.
  • Jane.
  • Mira.

Boys

  • Asher.
  • Bennett.
  • Matthew.
Celebrate your rainbow baby with a meaningful name that means miracle, blessing or gift from God.Celebrate your rainbow baby with a meaningful name that means miracle, blessing or gift from God.

Your love of literature

Whenever you’re cuddled on the couch dreaming up baby names, unique is the attribute they all have in common. And while you haven’t decided on a name just yet, you’ve made up your mind regarding one thing: Your child will not be sharing his name with five other kids in his kindergarten class!

Literature is a hot spot of unusual names, and if you select one from your favorite book, you’re infusing your baby’s name with meaning. You could choose an author or a character. I love reading anything by Alice Munro. If I wanted to name my daughter after her I could go with Alice – a lovely old-fashioned name that you don’t hear every day – or Munro, which is totally unusual and has an essence of spunkiness to it.

Here are some other literary names to consider, either as first or middle names:

Girls

Boys

Go team! 

I was fortunate that my husband was just as obsessed with the name Sebastian as I was. Leonard, however, was a harder sell. I eventually cajoled him over to my side by pointing out that if we went with Leonard, our son’s initials would spell S.L.B. (it just so happens that S.L.B. is the acronym for my hubby’s favorite soccer team – Sport Lisboa e Benfica)! And with that, a name that was once meaningful only to me became meaningful to my significant other as well.

Whether it’s you or your S.O. who’s a major league sports fan, consider using your team as inspiration. Let’s say you root for the New York Jets. You could go with Jet (talk about a cool name for a boy!) or, if your last name happens to start with the letter T, you could spell out J.E.T. with a J first name and an E middle name.

Alternatively, you could always go with the name of your favorite coach or player.

Girls

Boys

When you choose a name that’s meaningful and special, you’re much less likely to experience regret. Happy naming!

Erin Balsa is a Boston-based mom of two who met her husband on an airplane. Her interests include reading, writing and sleeping through the night.