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What's in a name?

If you ask any new parent what’s in a baby name, they will likely tell you a lot of time. Either they’ve had their baby’s name picked out for years, or they’ve spent countless hours debating it. Some know right off the bat when they find out they’re expecting. Others look with a blank stare at the birth certificate in the hospital not sure what to write as discharge nears.

Naming a baby is a big decision. After “Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl,” most people are curious if you’ve picked a name. And everyone wants to weigh in. We can’t help but have our preferences and opinions. For some expectant parents, the decision is to keep the name a surprise until baby’s arrival, while others let the debate continue for nine months.

Names Topping the List

Every year, the Social Security Administration releases the top baby names for boys and girls. Here are the top picks for 2012, just published this week.

BOYS

1.    Jacob
2.    Mason
3.    Ethan
4.    Noah
5.    William
6.    Liam
7.    Jayden
8.    Michael
9.    Alexander
10.    Aiden

GIRLS

1.    Sophia
2.    Emma
3.    Isabella
4.    Olivia
5.    Ava
6.    Emily
7.    Abigail
8.    Mia
9.    Madison
10.    Elizabeth

Both number 1’s, Jacob and Sophia, are returning champions from 2011. The names Michael, William, Emma, and Ava have demonstrated staying power in recent years as well. Looking for something off the beaten path? There are several up-and-coming baby names lists as well. Look for names like Mavis, Bruce and Thor on baby announcements in 2013, according to this list.

However, picking a baby name is not as easy as selecting from 10 or 20 names depending on if the sex of the baby is known. A Google search for “baby names books” brings up more than 650 million results. If you settle on just one book, “The Complete Book of Baby Names,” it lists more than 100,000 of the “best baby names.”

Where Do You Start?

You can see why parents struggle to pick a name.  What if you pick the wrong name? What if you pick a name someone else has had a bad experience with a person by that name? What if someone gets their feelings hurt, because you didn’t choose their name? Or what if you use someone else’s pre-selected name?

Selecting a baby’s name is a carefully choreographed dance of being original while traditional, incorporating family while giving baby their own identity, taking a risk, but not one taken by celebrities. To not offend, yet impress, it all comes together, tied off nicely with a big pink (or blue) bow, and is deemed “the one.”

We Named Her What???

The name is inked on the birth certificate and parents are over the hard part, right? Not so fast. Author of “The Baby Name Wizard,” Laura Wattenberg, says she regularly receives emails from parents wondering what to do about their “baby name remorse.” She cites “the paradox of choice” to blame for many parents finding themselves lost throughout the process of selecting a name and then filled with regret after they finally do, because we have too many choices.  “An abundance of choice not only makes our decisions harder,” she writes, “it turns out to make us miserable.”

And you thought sleepless nights would be tough.

How did you decide on naming your baby? Was it easy? Was it a struggle? We’d love to hear your stories on our Facebook page.