Savannah writes: My favorite baby name is... (I'll never tell)

Hmm... Aaron... Aiden... Abby... Adele... Savannah Guthrie peruses a pile of baby name books in her office. Hoping for some inspiration, perhaps?Samantha Okazaki / Today

Hi everybody. Like expectant parents everywhere, my husband and I are thinking a lot these days about baby names. We bandy names about, try them out on paper, say them out loud to see how they sound. And yes, we have been known to call different names out to my belly, to see if the baby answers to the name by kicking his/her approval. (Note to other expectant parents: this strategy does not work.)

It’s been interesting to see how Mike and I view names. I like an unusual name — not something funky or too showy or trying too hard — but something that not every kid in kindergarten is going to have. Mike likes traditional names, especially ones with history or family meaning. (And I do, too, of course.) But I admit I had to laugh when, when considering a certain boy name, he worried, “I like it, but won’t people will be asking all his life, how do you spell that??”

Yes, person named MIKE, many of us have been spelling our names and repeating them and explaining them for our entire lives. Try growing up with Savannah as a first name! In the 1970s when I entered school, the name was practically unheard of. There were never any license plate key chains at the drug store with SAVANNAH printed on them. Rainbow T-shirt with Savannah printed on the back? Forget it. We were still years away from the movie classic, “Savannah Smiles.” 

How do you spell that? Growing up with an unusual name, Savannah wished she was another Jen. But as an adult, she loves having a distinctive name. Samantha Okazaki / Today

In junior high, I would have traded anything to have a cool name like Bridget or Jen or Julie or Cindy. I didn’t want to be unusual in any way. Later in life, I learned to appreciate having an unusual name and an ever-ready conversation piece. So if we do something a little out of the ordinary in naming our baby, I hope he/she will appreciate that, too. That said, I'm not looking to go crazy here. The kid has to have this name his/her whole life!!

Luckily our taste in names is more similar than dissimilar. There is one thing we agree on 100 percent. We will not — repeat not — float potential names to our family and friends. Dearest Reader, this is the mother of all no-nos! You try out a name on a friend — a name you love enough to go pseudo-public with — and you’ll hear all kinds of opinions. “[BLANK]??? You really want to name her [BLANK]?? I went to junior high with a [BLANK] and she was a total mean girl!” Or, “No, no, no, no – you can’t call him [BLANK]. This guy [BLANK] threw up in my car in college.” You get the picture. Everyone has an opinion, or a story, or an association with every name — and once they’ve expressed it to you, you’re doomed. If you go ahead with the name, you’ve ignored your friend or relative and defied their counsel. Even worse, you, too, now possibly associate your precious little [BLANK] with the boy who put peanut butter in your friend’s braids when she was in second grade.

So, I say, when it comes to names, mum’s the word!

By the way, we revealed the most popular baby names from the Social Security Administration on the show recently. So if you’re looking for ideas, check it out!