Baby names

Listen up, Savannah: How to choose the perfect baby name

Aug. 11, 2014 at 8:29 AM ET

It’s probably the most-asked question expectant parents face after, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

“What are you going to name your baby?” friends and family want to know.

Talk about a daunting decision.

Choose right and a graceful moniker can help distinguish your child. Choose wrong and it can make people shake their heads or giggle for years to come.

Video: Choosing a name for your bundle of joy can be overwhelming, but there are some useful methods for inspiration, like looking to family. TODAY’s anchors weigh in on how they chose their children’s names.

"A name is so important," said TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, who doesn't know the sex of her baby yet. "We kind of have a shortlist for a boy and a shortlist for a girl. But we both want to look at the baby (first)."

She declined to say where she is looking for inspiration for names, but the other anchors revealed how they named some of their children. Matt Lauer said his daughter Romy is named after actress Romy Schneider. Carson Daly said he wanted something "presidential and regal" for his son so he went with Jackson James, while his daughter is named Etta -- a family name.

Natalie Morales chose biblical names for her kids, Joseph and Luke, while Willie Geist picked George, his grandfather's name, and Lucie, "a name we just liked."

(Meanwhile, Savannah's mom, who called into the show on Monday as a surprise, playfully complained that Savannah and her husband Mike Feldman have not run any names by her.)

Read: TODAY celebrates Savannah Guthrie on her last day before maternity leave

“It's a very public decision,” said Linda Murray, editor in chief of BabyCenter.com. “And parents really want to make the right choice. They're choosing a name that needs to last a lifetime. And they haven't even met this baby yet.”

Actress Olivia Wilde said she and fiancé Jason Sudeikis fought battles over several names for their newborn son until they settled on Otis.

"He loved that one and I was happy because I wanted to name him after Otis Redding and I thought, 'If you like this, we're going to go with it,'" Wilde told Savannah, noting the couple knew they would have a boy.

Read: Olivia Wilde: Breast-feeding photo ‘grew out of an organic moment’

Video: The actress joins TODAY to talk about being part of the Global Citizen Festival, a benefit concert taking place in New York’s Central Park, and chats with Savannah Guthrie about being a new mom and the Glamour magazine photo of her breast-feeding.

There’s so much pressure on parents to be unique, but not go overboard. Then, there’s the delicate dance of what to do when someone in your social circle wants the same name you’ve set your sights on.

If you're struggling, there are lots of places to turn to for inspiration, like your family tree, pop culture (Katniss or Elsa, anyone?), news events (such as the election of Pope Francis or the birth of Prince George), geography (Brooklyn sounds so cool) and websites like Nameberry, which offer a dizzying array of choices.

Read: 9 things I wish I knew before I chose my baby's name

You can also check out the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names in the U.S., which last year was topped by Noah for boys and Sophia for girls.

But perhaps popular is the last thing you want. Just remember that unusual baby names can spark a social media frenzy, like the announcement that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their baby North West. Other most disliked celebrity baby names of last year? Ace Knute, the name of Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson’s son and Bear, the son of Kate Winslet and Ned Rocknroll.

Some parents go to great lengths in trying to make their baby’s name stand out from the rest. Remember “Seven Costanza” from “Seinfeld?” That’s fiction, but these wacky names are not. Yes, some people actually named their babies Ransom, Pistol, Warrior and Subaru last year.

Read the mommy advice first ladies, celebrities gave Savannah

But perhaps you shouldn't fret too much about the perfect choice.

Ultimately, more than 87 percent of adults say they like their name, so when it comes to choosing the right moniker your child, it seems you really can't go wrong.

Follow A. Pawlowski on Google+ and Twitter.

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