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People turn to consultants to help name their kids

Britney and Tiffany are out. Celtic names, like Logan, are in.

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He could have been an Ethelwulf, Ocumwhowurst, Hildebrand, or Xiuhcoatl. Or maybe we should call him Powder, Ruff, Mystery, or Money. The book of 100,001 "best baby names" that we had spent so much time working through over the past few months certainly could not be blamed for a lack of ideas.

But as our newborn son lay in his hospital cot, my husband needed only one look at his face to tell what his name should be. We had already drawn up a shortlist and decided to wait until he made his entrance into the world before determining which best suited him.

"He's an Alfie," my husband declared confidently after perusing our squirming pink offspring, and I concurred wholeheartedly. Neither of us could explain why, but he just looked like an Alfie. Besides, it sounded cute.

It was admittedly not the most scientific of methods, but considering the book contained lists of names under headings such as Muppets characters, pirate names, literary villains, mob names, rednecks, couch potatoes, and dorks, we believe we took a reasonably responsible path.

And we were mindful in choosing it that – hard as it is to believe at the moment – there will come a day when Alfie will no longer pass as "cute." So as he strides down Wall Street in his pinstriped suit, peers down from the Supreme Court bench, or takes his first steps on Mars, he can abbreviate his name to Alf, should he feel it lends a little more gravitas.

It is the kind of consideration that increasing numbers of parents are making, with weeks now spent trawling lists of suggested names and mulling over how each sounds, how it looks on paper, how it is perceived, and, most important, whether it will be setting up its recipient for success, failure, or ridicule in later life. And the process of selection is something they are no longer necessarily doing alone and for free.

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