Oct. 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM ET
Many people think coming up with baby names for boys is easier than it is for girls—there just seems to be a smaller universe of names, since many parents of boys opt for a traditional moniker. But that focus on classic names means it’s extra hard to come up with unique baby names for boys—to pick one that’s creative but not off-the wall and has just the right level of cool. These five tips can help you pick a name that feels original:
For a name that’s a little formal but still fun, look to popular last names. This is also a nice way to revive a family name that fell off the family tree through marriage. Just be sure it pairs well with your actual last name so it’s not too much of a mouthful. Examples of surnames that also work as given names: Fletcher, Anderson, Beckett, Lewis, Kennedy and Miller.
Location names have been a big trend for years, kicked off when David and Victoria Beckham named their son Brooklyn. Gwen Stefani kept it going by naming her son Kingston. More recently, Reese Witherspoon gave a nod to her Southern roots by naming her son Tennessee. Look to places that mean something to you, and try them out with your last name. Other cool place names: Austin, Phoenix, Sydney, Kent and Aspen.
Everything old is new again, and that includes baby names. If you’re looking for unique baby names for boys that have a retro-cool feel, browse popular choices from decades ago. Frank, for instance, was popular in the early 1900s but not so much today. Albert is a forgotten gem from the 1880s. If you want to browse the most popular names by decade, check out the Social Security Administration web site.
We’re not sure why, but when you add an X to a name—maybe the fact that it’s a letter so rarely used?—you score cool points. Xavier, Fox, Jax, Knox and Felix are all boy names that cash in on the X factor.
Research names that are trending in other countries but aren’t over-used in the US to see if a name with international appeal might suit your little jet-setter. Some ideas we love: Davi (Brazil), Lachlan (Australia), Maxim (Russia), Diego (Spain) or Yanis (France).
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.