Sooner or later, whether we’re ready or not, most of us will take the plunge into fatherhood. But with all that’s confusing about babies and birthing and being the non-pregnant half of an expectant couple, it can feel like you’re flying into battle blind (and without properly baby-proofed table edges); while women have hormones and motherly instincts on their side, we’re often stuck with nothing but novelty cigars and the nagging fear that we’re going to end up dropping our progeny on his soft little skull. Rest assured, you’ll figure out the whole parenting thing eventually, but until the bundle of joy is an actual living, breathing entity, it helps to have something concrete to connect to that’s more human than a bean-sized picture on a sonogram. Like, say, a name. Everyone has a different idea of how and when this should happen, but if you and your baby momma feel inclined to give your child an identity before he or she enters the world, here are a number of ways you can choose to do it.


One of the most flattering things you can do for Grandma Ellen or Great Uncle Sal is to name a child after them. Many families have names that have lasted for generations, which can not only preserve familial history, but can also help to predict whether your baby will grow up to be a curmudgeon who excels at checkers or an excellent baker of spice cakes who frequently yells at pigeons. It’s also guaranteed to give the kid a sense of his or her origins, which doesn’t matter much in kindergarten, but can be extremely comforting later in life.


You can be sure that you’ll one day hold the proud honor of being your child’s main source of embarrassment, so why not start early by naming the little bugger after the spot where he or she was conceived? To ensure that you’re always one awkward explanation away total nomenclature-related child mortification, pick something specific like “La Cienega” or “Brooklyn Bridge” (or not, but it’s way more fun if you make it painfully obvious to everyone but your child). All kidding aside, place names can sometimes make wicked cool baby names; Madison and London have been hipster faves for a while now, but Tucson and El Paso are totally on the up-and-coming side of too cool for school. Get ‘em before they become too popular.


Naming a child after a historical character can be a whole mess of fun (and not just because a robust understanding of history puts the ‘fun’ in functional knowledge). Epic land battles and centuries-long rivalries make for excellent characters after which to fashion your child. Plus, everyone knows that kids with weirdly Victorian and/or Grecian names always end up the most popular and desirable, unless, of course, their parents make the mistake of allowing them to play Dungeons & Dragons instead of enrolling them in soccer and ballet. Having a long, royal-sounding name also makes teen angst seem appropriate; anyone with a ridiculously dramatic name seems entitled to an existential crisis from time to time, don’t you think?


This day in age, you’re free to go any which way with a baby name, thanks in part to Frank Zappa (father of Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet Emuukha Rodan, and Diva Thin Muffin), Chris Martin (father of Apple and Moses), Jason Lee (father of Pilot Inspektor), Michael Jackson (dearly departed ‘father’ of Blanket), David Duchovny (father of the aptly-named Kyd), and Jermaine Jackson (father of – wait for it – Jermajesty), among so many others. Maybe the best way to name your baby is to get blasted with your co-parent-to-be and think of the most ridiculous thing you possibly can, then shake on it.


If you’re one of those guys who’s just Really Bad With Names, then you might consider naming your child after yourself, your spouse or some combination of the two. It might be somewhat more difficult if you decide to make one of your children your namesake, only to discover that the gender doesn’t fit, but that didn’t stop Will and Jada Smith; they just switched it up a bit by naming their daughter Willow and their son Jaden.

Naming a baby can be important work, so if you want to take it semi-seriously, do some research by buying a book or checking out one of the many millions of baby-naming websites out there. Whatever you choose, just make sure it comes with a good story, because you can be sure you’ll have to explain it over and over (and over) again for at least three years following your child’s birth.