Earlier this year, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) released their annual Baby Names list - you can check it out here.
The most popular names in 2018 were Jack and Emily for boys and girls, respectively. Freddie, Theodore, and Frankie were new entries for boys, while Ada, Ivy, Bonnie, and Bella were new entries for girls.
Here are a few considerations for first-time baby-namers, from what is wise to what is legal…
1. How common is your chosen name?
For many parents, the perfect name is recognisable but individual, striking enough to have a sense of identity, but no so much as to attract unwanted attention. Unfortunately, the balance changes year-on-year, and what’s quirky today might be par for the course by the time your kid starts school.
Some names are so popular they seem to defy fashion – Jack has been the top choice for boys, having held the number one spot every year since 2007, except for 2016 when James briefly shouldered into first place.
At the other end of the scale, there are names you just know won’t be troubling top ten lists. In 2007, Katie Price and Peter Andre called their daughter ‘Princess Tiaamii Crystal Esther Andre’ while, in 2004, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple.
2. What are the likely nicknames?
Your child will be given a nickname at some stage – by relatives, school friends, or school enemies – and abbreviations are part and parcel of your choice. Don’t opt for Elizabeth under the assumption she’ll be Lizzie, because you might just as well end up with Lizzo, Liz, Eliza, Beth, Lizbeth... the list goes on.
3. Think about the initials
Aoife Sarah Sullivan. Sean Alan Porter. Cillian Ronan Aiden Pierce. The playground will notice, and it will be your fault.
4. Consider the middle name
Middles names occupy a strange grey area in the naming process. Sometimes packed with ancestry, sometimes discarded altogether, they can also be a sort of ‘first reserve’ – an option for children to take up if their given name doesn’t quite click.
Sean Connery’s first name is Thomas, Rupert Murdoch’s is Keith, while Bruce Willis was given the first name Walter. And I think we can all agree the world would be a lesser place if Ronald Fenty and Monica Braithwaite had simply named their daughter Robyn, rather than Robyn Rihanna.
It's a particular phenomenon in Ireland. Have you ever asked for your grandparent's real names? Turns out my grandad Brendan's real name was James while my granny Peggy was Margaret.
5. There are pop culture implications
Children called Eileen will be told to "come on", girls called Caroline will be serenaded with Neil Diamond, and poor Molly will be subject to that song for years to come.
Consider the connections others might make – even if those connections are wrong. If your kids are called Arya and Jon, people may consider you to be a hardcore Game of Thrones fan - whether you ever watched the show or not.
6. Baby names need to last
Cutesy names might fit well on cutesy babies, but Bear, River and Rainbow may seem less suitable when they’re chairing business meetings in their Forties.
Pop culture names may also become dated. During the Twilight craze in 2009, Isabela, Jacob and Cullen became some of the most popular baby names in the US. Safe to say those books and movies are fading from the public consciousness by now - which might be for the best.
7. Choose something legal
Certain countries reject names that include numbers and punctuation or are deemed to promote criminal activities. For example, in 2016 a UK mother was banned from calling her child Cyanide.
In New Zealand, a widely publicised court battle upheld an order banning the baby name '4real', while other rejected application included Lucifer with a single full stop.
In 2008, the same court ordered the renaming of a nine-year-old-girl christened ‘Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii’, on the grounds that it "makes a fool of the child."
Honestly, if there’s a question over a name’s legality, you probably shouldn’t be considering it in the first place.
8. Remember it’s not about you
Your child will carry their name with them for the rest of their lives, so put ego aside and remember that it’s their future opinion that counts.