Choosing your baby’s name: A pregnancy timeline planner

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Making a list, checking it 1000 times…

You know you have to pick a name for your baby — and for most people, the deadline is your baby’s due date (even though some babies decide to show up ahead of schedule).

And though making this important selection is a big item on your agenda, we don’t want you stressing out be part of the process. To that end, we have devised this little calendar to help you compile a list of names — then to selectively and thoughtfully narrow it down until only the finalists remain.

We know some babies like to show up ahead of schedule, and that some parents like to get things all set ahead of time — so go ahead and move the schedule up a few weeks on the calendar below (probably speeding it up starting at around week 24).

Pregnancy, by week

Week 12 Three months along already? Time flies! Right around now, you will probably have your first prenatal checkup. Many women wait until this week — and after the all-clear from the doctor or midwife — to announce their pregnancy.
Week 16 You’re probably starting to feel a little bit pregnant about now — and now that it’s starting to seem real, this is a great time to begin thinking about baby names!

Our advice: Make a big list of every name you like (even just a little), and whittle it down later. You can start by browsing or searching the baby names in our database, looking here for some name themes and other ideas — plus be sure to take in all the names you see and hear around you every day.

Week 20 Right around now, you will probably have your ultrasound — and if you found out the sex of your baby, you can cut your list of potential baby names in half (unless you’re having twins or more). Keep adding names to your master idea list — you still have plenty of time to mull things over.
Week 24 If you didn’t before, you’re now most likely looking quite obviously pregnant… which means the questions begin — from everyone from your coworkers to your mailman and everyone in between.

The top question is almost always: Boy or girl? Question number two: Do you have a name picked out?

Unless you have been 100% sure of what you wanted to name your baby since you were 10 years old, we recommend holding off on telling anyone the name quite yet. This gives you more freedom to choose a name, or to change the name you have in mind.

Week 28 Your baby, if born even this early, still has a great chance of surviving — so that means you may want to kick the name search up a few notches.
Week 30 Just 10 weeks to go until your due date! Starting with your master name list (or lists, if you’re coming up with names for both boys and girls, or for twins and more), commit to crossing off at least half the names during the next month. You can do it!
Week 32 Keep finding new names you like?

That’s okay — add them to your list! But at this stage of the game (and assuming there are more than 8-10 names for each gender on your list still), use the one on/one off concept: for every name you now add to the list, another name drops off.

This will help you keep the size of your list manageable as you pare down to the names that can’t easily be eliminated.

Week 34 Now that your master name list has been narrowed by half (compared to a month ago), save or print one of our baby naming checklists to help you get organized — define your goals, and be aware of naming trouble spots you want to avoid.

With this tool at hand, plan to cut your name list down to a total of just 5 names (per gender if you don’t know baby’s sex, and per child if you’re expecting more than one).

Week 36 By now, you should now have just five baby names to consider! This week, your baby name goal is to cut that list by just one.
Week 37 If you’re following this plan, you should have narrowed your list to four equally fabulous names… which makes it all the tougher to tell you that you really should cut the list by one more over the next seven days. You can do it!
Week 38 Three names. Just three from which to choose the name that your baby/your child/your grown-up kid will be known by all of his or her life. If it sounds like a mighty task… well, that’s because it is! Fortunately, all you need to do this week is eliminate just one more name from the list so you’ll have the two finalists. Don’t stress — give yourself a few days to decide (and a few days more to make sure you’re happy with your choice).
Week 39 You are down to two names! Now is the time to triple and quadruple check that those names are the ones you love — and that they’re as bulletproof as you want in terms of rhyming words, the initials they create, celebrities or other notable figures from past and present who have had that name — and any other way you can imagine to vet those names.

And then, just sit back and relax as much as you can while you wait for your newborn to arrive!

Week 40 This is your official due date — are you all ready? You should have two names now, which is what we recommend having until your baby is born. After you see him or her, try each name on for size and see which fits the best.

That’s right: There’s no need to eliminate any more names — you just get to pick the perfect one now… and know that your choice was carefully considered and is, through the whole sometimes fun/sometimes stressful process, the exact right name for your newest family member.