September 6, 2007

Surprisingly Common Baby Names

I was lecturing my childless sister-in-law about baby names, explaining bossily which names she may and may not use for her hypothetical future children, and then anxiously explaining that I was kidding and actually thought that people should use the names THEY want and not let other people boss them around, and then going back and saying, "But seriously, don't use _____." I was hoping she would give up the goods on her favorites, but it did not work. She holds her cards close, my sister-in-law.

At one point during the discussion, she said, laughing, "Braden is a NAME?" Well. YES. And in fact, if you were to combine all the spellings (Braden, Brayden, Braeden, Bradon, Braydon, Braedon, Bradyn, Braiden, etc.), you'd see it was in fact a fairly common name, and getting more common all the time. But it was the first my sister-in-law had heard of it.

This reminded me of the times I've heard people say, "When we used the name we didn't know ANYONE with that name. But then suddenly EVERYONE was using it." I think the trouble is that most people don't pay much attention to baby names--and don't know many babies--until they start having babies themselves. Then during pregnancy they hear a name that sounds so fresh and new--oh, BRADEN! what a great name!--and it's just the cutting-edge sound they were looking for. And then it's a surprise to find so many Bradens out there already. Even if you DO know a lot of babies, you might not know the ones being named Braden.

The other problem is that as a culture we all tend to turn toward the same names at the same time. What sounds fresh and new to one person is likely to sound fresh and new to a whole lot of other people, too. When William was in preschool, there were two Emmas, two Abigails, and two Isabellas in his class. Also: two Williams.

I am very interested in baby names, and I'm a big fan of the Social Security baby name site (you can track the rising/falling popularity of a name for each year since 1992 [edit: thanks to Lucy who pointed out it goes back way farther than that now: back to 1880. Pardon me while I go play on the site all day]), so finding a second William in William's class was no shock to me. After all, the name hit the top ten the year William was born, and had been headed steadily in that direction for years. But the mother of the other William was upset, saying that when THEY used the name there were NO Williams but NOW there were Williams EVERYWHERE. The mother of one of the Isabellas told me the same thing about Isabellas.

Here is what I'm wondering: how many people does this happen to? Did it happen to any of you? Did you choose a name thinking it was highly unusual, and then find out it was common? There's nothing wrong with common names: I like them for many reasons, and in fact I deliberately choose them (I liked the name Henry back when I was pregnant with Rob, but wanted it to be more common before I used it). But I would think that if what you wanted was something unusual, it would be upsetting to find it wasn't.

And here's my second wondering: Has it happened to any of you more than once? Or was it "once bitten, twice visiting the Social Security name site"?

Good thing we like common names, or we'd have been a bit peeved about the "Henry" thing.

100 comments:

Tessie said...

I agree that a "common" name doesn't bother me in the least. The other consideration here is that hardly any names are truly common anymore. I think I read that the top 10 names each year make up less than 10% of total babies born.

AD's name was in the top 10 when she was born, and climbed even higher this year. (Okay, I'll go ahead and admit that it's Ava since my sister has mentioned it in my comments anyway). But I still love the name.

I think my husband was shocked to learn that it was "common", but then he doesn't have his finger on the pulse of baby naming like I do. Hehe.

LoriD said...

Oh that Henry smile... I'm melting!

On names, my only criteria for names was that it was a real name (not something made up, hyphenated or combined) and that I didn't know anyone else with that name. I also like short names, but that wasn't a deal-breaker. Even though Zoe and Luke are fairly high on the popularity scale, we still haven't come across any other kids with the same name.

When I was pregnant with Luke, I liked Ava for a girl name. After Luke was born I came across so many Ava's that I had to start all over with girl names for my third. We decided on Macy - not too popular, but still a name.

4andcounting said...

Two of our four have very common names for their age, and my oldest has a fairly common name too. We have one friend who named their daughter exactly what we named ours, but they are a few years apart and we don't see each other often, so I didn't care. I like names that sound good and sometimes have a special meaning to us. The girl name we have picked for Baby in progress is pretty popular right now, and I don't care. I think people should choose names they like and not worry about how popular it is.

And, please, could you stop posting pictures of the cutest baby ever? I mean, really, you are causing some serious baby envy out in the blogging world. ;-)

Lucy said...

I tend to like less popular names, but I don't have any children yet, so who knows what I will actually name my future children. I have a pretty normal name, but it wasn't very popular when I was growing up and I kind of liked that.

P.S. You can also change the number of years the database searches to up to 100! It is so much more fun to see what was popular in the 20s or 50s.

jen said...

I don't generally care, but this is my story... The name we used for my daughter is also my cousin's name, and I'd never remembered anyone using it in my kids' generation, and it was pretty low but not nonexistant on the ss database. But since using it, it's risen. (I think, I haven't checked in awhile)

and the best part is there are THREE people on a message board I frequent, who either have or named their daughter the same exact firt/middle name combo.

My son's name isn't on the list, though I think it might have blipped up silently but nowhere near the top 10 and I kinda like that it's a "normal" name and yet, not common.

Though when I said "normal" I meant "familiar to those of us who grew up in the 80s" and not "these trendy new names" that my husband can't seem to cope with... being old and set in his ways and all. He thinks they are ALL MADE UP.

gabby said...

My son's name is on the list, fairly high, but dropped out of the top 10 by the year he was born. It's common, everyone's heard it and if there isn't at LEAST one other kid in his class with that name, I'll be very surprised. So, no, doesn't bother me! We choose a nice, strong, classic name that will fit forever. I tend toward the more classic names from around the turn of the century (that would be 1900s) and not so much the trendy ones.

All that mattered to us was that we loved the name and it fit.

Michelle said...

I don't mind a common name, so long as it isn't VERY COMMON (like Jennifer was in the 70s). I guess I just want my kid to be a little unique, but with a solid foundation. We named her Rachel, which isn't overly common, but isn't uncommon either. Like Tessie, my husband really liked Ava, and it was actually down to Rachel or Ava for many many hours after she was born. And we may consider it for any future girls. It's just a pretty name.

Devan said...

I purposely try to stay out of the top 50 when choosing names. O's name is getting more popular, but I still love it! d's name is still not popular and I still love it too.
I have a secret girls name picked out, and am hoping that if I ever have a girl that it won't have climbed to number 3 or something. I just happen to not want my kids names to be as common, though I often like those names a lot. :)

Black Sheeped said...

I've always thought I'd like very unpopular names for my hypothetical children. Something different, you know? I know the names we like aren't up there, but I was very relieved to see on that website two of our favorite names aren't even in the top 1000, and one is in the 300's and looks as if it has been dropping steadily.

I know people who have been shocked that the name they've chosen is actually popular, and they always seem just so...shocked. The names at the top of the lists always seem fairly obvious to me. For instance, someone I know can't believe "Emma" is so popular now--even after there was a baby named Emma on Friends.

Yay for more naming talk!

Amie said...

I feel like it's kind of happened to us. We choose Sadie, and now I keep hearing about other Sadies. My cousin told me at her class reunion she ran into two women with Sadies! When I was in the hospital after her birth, I saw preview for "License to Wed" with Robin Williams and of course the the main female character was Sadie!

Me Today said...

Great post. Very interesting indeed. As a teacher there are some names I would never name my children. I'm not going to mention them lest I offend someone, but I'm telling you, it's something about kids with certain names...bad, bad, bad. (FYI, none of the people above me used any of the "bad" names :)) We wanted names that weren't in the top 10, but not a name that people would think, "What were they thinking?" I took a look at the SSS web-site and my boys' names are still not that common, but are rising in popularity. My oldest son's name is ranked 40.
Henry is adorable by the way! Love that smile. Melted my heart!

Sarah said...

Gosh your baby is cute!

Pickles & Dimes said...

Oh, those little Henry cheeks - so adorable!

I love how the popularity of names ebbs and flows, depending on what's being overused at the time.

I'm still waiting for the time when the name Shauna is no longer attached to an adult film star. Also, if people start naming their kids Apple, I'm going to be pissed.

Beth said...

I like "real" names myself, yet those names are becoming increasingly popular. (Thankfully. Do we need another generation of children named "Maedylynn"?)

We named our daughter Cate Meredith, which we had chosen about 24 hours after we'd found out I was pregnant. Then, 13 days before she was born, another couple in our church named their daughter Katie (our Cate will go to school with her). I was irritated, yet after hemming and hawing, we decided we just didn't like anything else quite as well. So, Cate it is, and it bothers me not one bit.

I also like the name Isaac for a boy, yet I'm seeing that name with increasing frequency as well. Gotta quick have a boy and use it before anyone else I know. ;)

Erica said...

It's a fine line trying to pick a name that won't be too popular or so crazy your kid will be made fun of.

Luckily, I've known I was going to name my daughter after my mother since I was a little girl. Madeleine isn't in the top 10, but we hear of other little girls with the name fairly often. I don't really care, though. To me, my Madeleine is a tribute to my mother and there isn't another little Maddie out there that can say the same thing.

PS - I'm dying to snorfle Henry.

Swistle said...

Lucy- HOLY CATS! Last year it was only 1992 on! I am so glad you pointed out the new thing, because mine just automatically set itself to 15 years (since that's what I searched last time). This is HUGE NEWS. I'm going to edit the post.

Tessie said...

Me again. I must say that your commenters all have excellent taste in names. As I've been obsessively refreshing, I haven't heard ONE name used by a commenter that I didn't like.

I will say that one thing that DID surprise us after we named AD was our unintentional regional bias. After the SS rankings by state came out, we found out that we had chosen a name that was not very popular in TX, but was EXREMEMLY popular in both of our home states. Interesting.

tulipmom said...

I'm one of those people who prefers uncommon names. I also taught for several years so that eliminates a handful of names.

We named our son after my husband's late grandfather and were THRILLED when we realized his name wasn't in the Top 100. I think it was like 400-500 at that time. It's a little more common now.

If we have a girl this time we'll be naming her after my late grandmother whose name I LOVE but wish was just a little less popular. It IS in the top 100 but frankly, I'd use Jennifer if it had been my grandmother's name. That's how special it is to us to use the actual name not just the first initial as many of our friends and family have done.

tulipmom said...

P.S. Henry is just yummy!

Kelsey said...

I LOVE the SS name thing. I visited frequently when we were thinking about names for Harper. Although Harper was the first idea and that is what stuck, in the end. Here is something I find interesting:

My name, Kelsey, was not in the top 1,000 names the year I was born. When I was little we knew no other Kelseys and could never find my name preprinted on things. Since it rose as high as 23 on that list and is 184.

Harper's name was an unusual one but it has actually been climbing the list since the year she was born. In 2004 it was 887 and last year it was up to 510. I would have been surprised if someone had told me it might become popular, but I guess you never know.

I was surprised her name was higher on the list when she was born than mine was when I was born.

And now you know why I have trouble being productive at the computer, because I look up things like that for no reason at all!

hello insomnia said...

We chose "Nathan" because it was the only name we agreed on. Not a Hollywood story at all, but I joined a moms group and there was another Nathan, but she called her son "Nate" and I call Nathan just that.

Some names that are uber-unusual also make it very difficult for me to like the parent, because why would you name your child URIENE? That is too much like URINE! This is a true story.

Swistle said...

Amie: Yeah, all the "100 years ago" names are peaking again. Sadie is the natural follow-up to names like Emma, now that people are looking for something less common than Emma has become. Henry is in the same category: turn-of-the-century classics are gettin' kinda trendy. I'm glad, because I didn't want to be the only one using them. (Although--if they weren't getting trendy, would I even want to use them? That kind of question can keep me up at night.)

Black Sheeped: I KNOW! ME TOO! I heard one woman say that they liked "UNIQUE names, like Emma." Um? Does she know what the word "unique" means? You'd have to use a name like Slipcover for actual uniqueness, but definitely Emma is WAY out of the category.

Beth: I love the name Isaac, too. I think that one is the natural follow-up to the name Noah, which has gotten so popular (there have been two in Rob's class, two years in a row ((different Noahs)) ).

Tulipmom: Awesome. I get a little tired of "Oh, we're naming her Emma after my great-grandmother"--when they'd never met the great-grandmother and definitely wouldn't be using the name if it were Enid. But I HEART FLOWER LOVE genuine named-afters (anyone who WOULD have used Enid).

Tessie: Oooo, breaking out the interesting REGIONAL discussion! I LOVE that. Like, is the name Madison as popular in Wisconsin? Love. it. One of our kids' names is way way more popular in our state than in the nation at large. I had only checked national numbers, so that's the one that surprised me a little--though it shouldn't have, since all the "old traditional" names are coming back.

Jen (Never Melts): WOO HOO, I am on my way over!

Diana said...

My son's name is William (well, Billy) and can I tell you how shocked I am that there are NO other kids named William in his 5th grade class? No Billy, Bill, or Will! Not only that, but I went through the yearbook ... there are only a two or three in the entire school!

My Buddy Mimi said...

We waited a while to have kids but always talked about what we might name a child somewhere down the line. I liked Emma, which is my great grandmother's name. It was something like #20 before they used it on "Friends." And then it went to #1 the next year.

So no, we did not use Emma, but we would have. If Mimi had been born a few years earlier.

Jess said...

I like reasonably common names, too, in part because nobody will say, "What?" when you introduce yourself and also because you won't have to spell your name to everyone, all the time. I intend to pick fairly traditional names for my kids as well.

My mom claims that the "nobody had that name and then suddenly everybody did" thing happened with me. Apparently there were no Jessicas in 1983, and then in 1984, BAM. Three in my preschool class alone.

The SS site belies her claims, however, since Jessica was the second most popular girl's name from 1981 to 1984, and then in 1985 it became the most popular name, which it remained through 1990. My problem is that it was so popular in the '80s and '90s, and has declined in popularity since then, and didn't get popular until 1974 (this SS site is amazing for examining these trends). So basically there was a 25-year period when the name was really popular. This makes me afraid that in 50 years it will be an old lady name like Gertrude or Mildred are today (my apologies to any Gertrudes or Mildreds reading this).

AndreAnna said...

We chose Charlotte for our daughter because it was classic and not too popular. Though I have seen it climb, and it is quite popular in the U.K., it is still rather uncommon here and we have yet to run into another.

Yet.

Chelle said...

My son's name has ranked in the top 10 since 1979 yet he is the only one with that name in his class. My daughter's name was a bit more unusual and she shares it with two other students in her class-one girl and one BOY. Life is like that, sometimes.
Also, my great grandfather's name was Braden so, there you have it.

donna said...

We didn't find out the sex of our baby so we had to have a few names for each gender picked out. Our top runner for a boy was Aidan (because we are Irish and wanted something of the Irish variety that sounded good with our last name). Then I went to the SS site and saw that Aidan was waaaaay too popular and trendy. I really am not a fan of the trendy names - I like traditional names and like lorid said, it couldn't be made up or sound like it's supposed to be a last name. So we were flummoxed for a boy's name after that. Luckily we had a girl and named her Bridget. It's not terribly common, but it's also not so uncommon that people don't know how to pronounce it or wonder where it came from. But I did recently discover that she'll never find pencils or license plates with her name on them. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing....

Kelsey said...

P.S. Henry is completely adorable.

Black Sheeped said...

Crap, I guess I can't read BASIC CHARTS. The name I thought was dropping in popularity is rising. Lame! Also, I'm dumb.

Anonymous said...

I have a Brandon and an Abby - both of which I thought was sooooo original...and have quickly learned were very "trendy".

My newest is Hayden and she is a GIRL. Her dad picked her name and although it was not a favorite of mine, I at least figured I had it licked as far as originality. Lo and behold - there is another Hayden Elizabeth on our baby forum born within a couple of days of her. UNBELIEVEABLE.
-Diana

Amie said...

Sorry to comment again, but have you ever read the baby name book "Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana" ? It's my favorite baby name book ever, I love to go thru it even when I'm not expecting a baby.

I forgot to add that with our boys we choose Biblical names which narrowed the field a lot. Isaac, Elijah, Samuel and Jonah. Samuel, of course turned into Sam which is pretty popular. And Jonah is catching on too. I think of our five kids, Jonah is my favorite name (is it wrong to have a favorite??)

Joanne said...

I'm not bugged about common names either. We're all Catholic around here and name our children (well, the one that's been born and the one that I'm pregnant with) for Saints, so they're not exactly made up names or anything. But my son's name is Anthony, which I did not have pegged for a popular name and then the year he was born (2005) it was all over the place! Our new boy name is Augustin Thomas and we'd call the baby Gus (which cracks me up) and I've started hearing that all over the place too. Funny. BOY that picture is cute!

jonniker said...

Oh the baby name thing. The common name thing! UGH. I like common names -- or, as I prefer to call them, classic names. As a person named Jonna, which absolutely no one can pronounce, you can bet that my kids will be named things like Sarah and Elizabeth, because at least you can SAY THEM.

And besides, William isn't ever going to go out of style, and I like that. And further, I don't mean to be disparaging about the Other William's mom, but seriously, she's going to say that there were no Williams? Has she lived outside of a cave? The name William has been fairly popular for generations, and there were tons of Williams in OUR generation, which I'm guessing is hers. Does she know no Bills or Wills? DOES SHE LIVE IN A CAVE, I ASK YOU?

jonniker said...

Also, Swistle, your Emma comment reminded me that I knew a woman who was pregnant once, and pooh-poohed the fact that I liked the name Victoria. She then proceeded to tell me that she didn't like new, trendy names, and preferred classic, English names which ... Victoria?

No no. She meant classic English names like Marsha. Which, while fine, isn't really a classic English name compared to, say, VICTORIA.

Anonymous said...

I had Kaelin picked out for a daughter's name 10 years before she was born, and I rarely ran into a Kaelin during that time. Now that she's 8, I run into it more often. There are 3 Kaelins in her small school, 2 are boys. (One spelled Kalun - ugh.) To me it will never be a unisex name. It's a GIRL's name! :)

Farrell said...

I named mine Sophie and it just so happens that Sophia is about the most popular girl's name the past two years. Oh well. *shrug*
I couldn't have picked a better name for her, so....
If you're worried about the name becoming common, you could always name your kid - boy or girl - "Farrell." I've only met one other girl with that first name, who--get this--happens to be my cousin's best friend's older sister. (And I saw Ferris at 31 Flavors last night).

Michele said...

Henry is just delicious.

My kids have pretty unique names. Jonas and Eamon. I didnt make either of them up, nor did I funk up the spelling. Jonas is named after an Amish guy we gave a ride to back when we were dating, and Eamon is an old Irish name that I fell in love with when I saw the movie "Michael Collins" (Irish president Eamon de Valera) and also the name of a runner my husband was a fan of.
We wanted uncommon, but normal names.
I say name your kid anything you want, but spell it correctly. I was one of 5 Michelle's in my 5th grade class, but the only one who spelled it with one "L". People have spelled my name wrong my entire life.

Jana said...

Another former teacher here who couldn't bear to 1)name a child the same name as a disliked student or 2)name a child something so common there'd be two other classmates with the same name (I had 3 Michaels and two Ashlies in one class). So when we decided on William for our son we chose to shorten it to Liam to set him apart from the Wills and Billys (TX=lots of Billys). Wouldn't you know, two other babies in our neighborhood are named Liam (just Liam, though, not short for William). Hmph.

Artemisia said...

I read about a character in a book named Zoe when I was nine years-old. Since then, I've always wanted to name any daughter I had Zoe.

About the time I hit my mid-20s, EVERYONE was naming their adopted Asian baby girls Zoe. (Seriously - I know of THREE sets of parents who named their little girls Zoe, whom they adopted from various countries in Asia!

Finding My New Normal said...

Before my husband and I were even married, we agreed to name our first daughter Grace Elizabeth. Grace after his recently deceased grandma and Elizabeth after my mother. We have been trying for almost 6 years to have a baby and in that time, Grace has become VERY popular. We are rethinking the name.

Also, when my parents named me Amy and my brother Jeffrey, they knew no other Amys or Jeffs. However, there was always at least 1 or 2 other Amys or Jeffs in each of our classes. In fact, our last name is super common and we would often have an Amy Mylastname or Jeff Hislastname in our class as well.

Tina said...

We, too, have a William. He's William James, IV (a family name). My husband didn't want to pass the name on (he didn't like Willy or Billy or Bill and goes by the middle name) but I felt we couldn't stop at III. So I asked him what he thought of Will...and he seemed surprised, he'd never thought of that as a nickname. I didn't really think about it being popular, but I did like it as a classic name. It's not so poular in our area (even though I did have a student named William Willams--why would you do that to a child?!?). When our Will was younger, everyonce in awhile there would be another Will at the library and that would really confuse him. He couldn't understand why a strange lady was calling him.

Boy #2 is Alexander, and sadly, that's close to breaking the top 10. Like you, I want classic, yet not one that is shared with 3 other kids in the class.

If we have a #3...I have no idea what we're going to do if we have a girl. I loved Samantha for the last 6 years and now it's so popular I don't think I can go with it. I'll just keep reading here for ideas! :-)

Finding My New Normal said...

Oh! And I forgot to add that my other favorite girls name was Meredith and I knew of NO others excepting the one girl I went to high school with back in the day.

Now, thanks to the popularity of Grey's Anatomy, there are Meredith's popping up all over.

Anonymous said...

My mom told me that when she named me Laura, she thought it was such a pretty, old-fashioned name that nobody else was using. And as I grew up, there were always at least 3 other Lauras in my classes at school.

My kid's name is Sam. He's 14, and I think he's the only Sam we know. I don't know if it has become common since 1993 or not, because I have absolutely not kept up with baby names, except to marvel at the ubiquitous Caitlyn/Katelyn/Caitlin.

bubandpie said...

That happened to a friend of mine. She was sure she was having a girl, so she hadn't properly researched her boys' name (Connor) which turned out to be in the top ten in Canada that year. And it's true - there are Connors everywhere.

The other day someone mentioned that the name Colin was a bit too popular, but I haven't found that - there are some, but not many.

Shannon said...

That totally happened to us with our first and not so much with the second although I wouldn't say with did anything dramatically different when choosing names. We didn't want bizarre names but not really common names, either.

I'm sure many people have seen this site but I spent hours looking at it when I was pregnant. It's colorful and fun! http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html

Swistle said...

Amie- YES, I love that book, although it gets less useful each year (because of getting more and more out of date). I wish they'd update it every single year--I'd buy every single copy! My current favorite is The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg, but that, too, should be updated every year so I can buy a copy every year.

Joanne- I love Gus. I started hearing that one after everyone was finishing up with Max/Sam. It's another nice, short, simple boy name.

Jonniker- I KNOW! I think she thought she was also very, very original for wanting to call him William rather than Bill. But--THAT IS THE TREND. Right now, Elizabeths are known as Elizabeth, whereas when I was a child you had to pick Liz, Beth, Betsy, etc. But she thought she was the only one to say she liked the whole version of the name, no nickname. Sigh. I should look up her address; maybe it WAS in a cave. But anyway, that's one of the things I like about the name William, too: that it's been around a long time, and probably WILL (ha ha) be around a long time.

Farrell- A Ferris reference?? I LOVE YOU.

Finding My New Normal- I LOVE Meredith! Too bad about the TV show. I love Grace Elizabeth, too.

Shannon- I love that site! It goes with my favorite baby name book.

tulipmom said...

How did you know it was ENID?

It IS an "E" though :)

Kelli in the Mirror said...

My cousin's kids are named Ferris and Fiona.

A place to get a feel for what's going on regionally is a nursing mother shop. I had to go get fitted for a bra when my daughter was a few days old and they knew all the trends because brand new moms came in all the time and talked about their babies.

I suppose I don't mind a very common name if I liked it to begin with. If it's one I don't like, then it just annoys me more as I hear more people named that. :)

Rachel said...

Our daughter's name is Irene. So far so good...well...unless we visit a retirement home...

JMC said...

Common names are fine, unless you're growing up with a VERY COMMON, as in WAY WAY over-the-top common name. Like, as Michele pointed out, Jennifer in the 70s. And classic names are, well, classic. And I LOVE them.

But back to Jennifer. That is my name as well as every other girl's name I went to school with. Yeah, yeah, dangling participle or whatever, I know. I had to be Jennifer M. ALL THE TIME. I never, in my entire school career, was able to go by just my first name, and I envied those kids who could.

Sooooo, when my kids were named, we tried to go with real (as in not made up) names that were not as common as my name. My first daughter is Savannah Brooke (it was the only one her father and I could agree on, and we lived in SC, so this might fit your regional discussion). This one did seem to rise in popularity after we used it. My next one is Tessa Jane, then Sara Beth, then Jillian Lee. The middle names of my last 3 are all relatives. There are a few Saras or Sarahs around here (PA), but since for that one we call her both the Sara AND the Beth, she doesn't have to be Sara C. So far, we don't know any Tessas or Jillians personally, but I did come across someone's blog who had a daughter named Tessa a year younger than mine. And I just saw that one of the trainers on "The Biggest Loser" is named Jillian. And frankly, she's a bit scary.

el-e-e said...

ohmigosh, more than 50 comments. We are crazy for the naming of babies. But since I AM gestating one I feel the need to comment, too....

Our boy is Alexander. Legitimate family name, and I was interested to see if any other commenters mentioned it. (woo hoo, tina!) I haven't met another one in his age group so far. But we did notice that there were a TON of other "A" names --boy and girl-- in his infant room in daycare. Aiden. Alex. Ariana. Ariel. And of course, 1 Maddy (ha).

With number two I'm leaning toward classic again, I like to steer clear of the uber trendy ones. We'll see. :) Great discussion.

Erin said...

Man oh man. What a great topic of conversation. And HENRY! I could eat him up (not in a creepy way, but in an oh-so-cute way... you know?)

SO. Calum. We looked on the Social Security database for Calum before he was born, and it does not come up. However, it is one of the top 10 boys names for births in 2005 in Scotland. Then when Calum started daycare, we met our first other Calum, who was fresh off the boat from Ireland (not really a boat, but his family had just moved here from there, though I bet they took a plane). Then when I had Emmett, my OB said that he had just delivered another Calum the week before. More Calums for the world! It's a good thing!

Emmett also has never been a popular US name, but is also very popular in Ireland & Scotland. I wonder if we'll start meeting more Emmetts eventually. I wouldn't mind that one bit because it would give me more opportunity to say it. Emmett emmett emmett emmett.

Alice said...

ooh fun topic!!

i'm an alice (obviously) which i think is pretty neat, because everyone else was named allison or alicia when i was in school. it does create the need for a lot of corrections when i introduce myself (stranger: "Allison?" me: "No, Alice - like in wonderland") but i sort of like that it sets me apart. and it is still a "real" name that people can spell and stuff.

can i broach the middle name subject as well?? :-) i used to HATE my middle name because it's a boys' name (wesley!) but now i like it for the same reason - it's very unique, AND it's a family name. all the 1st born males in my dad's family were given a combination of charles, william, wesley, or james as 1st/middle names... so i was going to be a james if i were a boy. since i wasn't, i still got "wesley" as my middle name. unique! but still a name!

Erin said...

Oh, and speaking of first names... Swistle, any chance you might, just this once, share your first name? Is it Swistle? What is it? Pleeeease?

MadMad said...

That is the cutest baby smile... awwwww! I wanted common enough that they weren't weird names, but not names that "everyone" had you know? I got lucky - in both cases, the "wrong" gender names (ie the names we picked for the sex the baby turned out NOT to be were very, very popular, and there are four or five per class: Jack and Grace. (I still like the names, but I think my kids' lives are a little easier...)

Misguided Mommy said...

we didn't care about if a name was common or not. we only cared if it was an ex boyfriend/girlfriends name or an immediate family members name. the one name that i just love, that is an ex is Kylen for a boy. I loove love love that name and I personally have never heard it before although a variation of it pops up in the baby name books. I picked names totally based on the kids personality inside me.

Katie said...

I LOOOOOOVE the baby name topic, the SSA website and the baby name wizard thing.

I wanted a name that was actually a name. I also really wanted one that wasn't dated, so that when my daughter is 80, her name isn't the equivalent of the current 80 year old Mildreds. You know? I guess I wanted timeless. So, we chose Rebecca. I have loved the name my whole life, and I always will. People don't wonder if she is a boy or girl and she won't have to spell it out every time she tells someone her names.

Those are my criteria!

Sundry said...

I thought Riley was a fairly uncommon name, only to learn it's becoming quite popular . . . FOR GIRLS.

Jen said...

I love baby names, too. I wasn't sure I was going to have kids way back in my 20s, but was always thinking of names, just in case. You never know.

Being of a very commom name, I thought it would be nice for my kids to have slightly less common monikers. We (I) (did you know you cannot do strikethrough on comments?) chose Kate because I liked it the best of all the girl names out there. And it's just Kate, not Katherine or Katelyn. For McLaren, it's a family name. Mostly we call her Claire, but I call her McLaren quite a bit, too. I have yet to meet anyone with her name, and if I do, I'll credit myself for their genius.

I do think that people should choose names they like, and not worry about whether they're popular or not.

Erica said...

Since everyone else is coming back and commenting a second time, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon.

I actually considered naming my daughter Piper. I love that name, but couldn't bring myself to tell her the story of how I picked it when she was older.

"You see, I was planning to name you after my beloved and departed mother, but while I was in the hospital on bed rest - BECAUSE YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A DIFFICULT CHILD - I saw a rerun of "Charmed" on TV one morning. I heard the name Piper and that was that."

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Oooh, I LOVE that SSA site!

I like names that are common, but not too common. So that when someone says, "What's your name?" and when you tell them, they don't go, "WHAT?" or "How do you spell that?"

Swistle said...

Okay, FINE, Erica, I will tell the story of how I came to like the name Henry. I was watching _Friends_, and it was when Monica was dating Tom Selleck, and Tom Selleck takes out photos of his grandchildren and says one of them is named Henry. And I was like, "*expression of shock* WOW. That is actually a Very Cute Name."

There. Happy now? I named my child for an unseen sitcom character. Not even a character--a PRETEND PHOTO of a NON-character.

Erica said...

I'm guessing you're mad for sure now, huh?

Kathi said...

This is a great discussion....but Swistle-I thought Henry wasn't your son's real name? We named our son Jacob, which is of course super-common but we haven't run into many others. I like that it's traditional and masculine. We like classic names and Jacob was the one we both liked best.

nowheymama said...

Wow. What fun! I feel pretty good about our first two name choices, but if #3 is a boy, name selection is going to be very challenging. As I have mentioned before.

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I was named Angelina after some great aunt back home in Italy, when I was born in the 80s. It was in the distant 300s back then. Nobody ever got it right (called me "Angela") and I thought I was just such a huge ethnic Italian weirdo. Now that I've finally learned to appreciate my name and heritage? 48. Stupid Angelina Jolie...everybody seems to think they're the first to crack that joke in my presence.

AndreAnna said...

Oh, and I have to add that as someone who has a totally uncommon name (a German feminization of my father Andreas - pronounced On-Dray-On-Na), and has spent most of my life correcting people or spelling it, I have also received endless compliments. I like my name and think it suits me and different names are not always bad. Hell, it's a conversation starter if anything!!! :)

Alice said...

i'll double comment as well, since i meant to put this the first time anyway: i'm with kathi, i thought all your kids' names on this site were aliases?

CakeHead said...

We purposely chose a classic, timeless name for our son. Alexander. We figured the two most common nicknames we could deal with (Alex and Xander), and no one would think to call him Al.

WRONG. UGH.

However, for a pretty common name, he's not been in a class with another Alexander that I know of yet. He's not in grade school yet either, so we'll see.

desperate housewife said...

Oh, my heart- I actually gasped at that smile. Possibly THE BEST baby picture in the history of mankind.

zellmer said...

My husband and I are big fans of names nobody else would name their child, but that aren't "trying too hard" or just plain weird. We consult the Baby Name Wizard, http://www.babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html,
which you will quickly become addicted to, as well.
We liked Henry, too, but then took it off the table when Julie Roberts named her son Henry, thinking Henry will now be too popular. The name we settled on always elicits the "how'd you come up with that?" question, which is what I like about it.

carrie said...

We have an Emma Grace. I have always loved both of these names and Emily, too. When she was born it went Emily, Emma, and then a few down was Grace. Didn't care. Loved the name, still do and it totally fits her. So I'm sure when she starts school there will be at least one other Emma, but I still don't care.

With baby #2 my husband picked the name Addison and was happy that it wasn't even in the top 100. (In 2005), last year it was #27. He of course is mad about it, but again, I don't care. She is a perfect Addison even if soon there will be a whole bunch more!

I say if you like it,go with it. Otherwise you'll always be wishing you had used it...

Jenny H. said...

Okay, if you are gonna discuss your names-please say what they are!

My oldest is Aidan Lynn- we liked the celtic reference. My family is from Scotland. I am very proud of my heritage. Lynn is my father's middle name. I checked the ss site and it was like #44 the year he was born. We thought we had chosen the most perfect name. And now I know two people who have named their son Aidan. BAH!

My youngest is Quinn Allan. Again with the celtic influence. And my husband liked the song "The Mighty Quinn". Seriously. His middle name belonged to a very dear friend of the family who was an amazing artist/sculptor that passed away before he was born. It also happens to be my uncle's middle name. So far? No other Quinn's. WOOT!

I love baby name discussions! My girl name will be Delaney Rae. If it turns out to be a boy we are leaning toward Finn Grady. First I have to actually BECOME pregnant with our third child! When I do, I am READY!!

Jenny H. said...

Quinn is like,#244 on the list.

Anonymous said...

Since I teach school, I wanted a common, easy to spell, easy to pronounce name for my kids. I also wanted a family name too. My kids are Megan Allison and Andrew Robert. As a teacher, I always feel bad for the kids who are constantly correcting people on how to pronounce their name or spell it. When I was in college, I had a friend named Ginny. She HATED her name and she planned to change it to Jenny when she was 21. Her parents were NOT happy....but she was finally going to be happy.

MrsGrumpy said...

My brother did that with both of his children. He thought Violet would be unique in 2002. There are two Violets in her kindergarten class. He thought Ava was something unique and different in 2004...and we all know how popular that name is with babies. I can't talk, however, because I am part of the 1990 "Nicole" bandwagon. My son's name (James) has pretty much always been popular. A side note, my parents' names were the top two popular names the year they were born. So I guess it runs in my family.

Swistle said...

Kathi and Alice- You're right! But it IS how I chose the name Henry--which was almost his actual name. And it's almost the same story as how we chose his actual name.

CAQuincy said...

We picked Isabelle for our youngest with our eyes wide open. We knew it was popular again, saw the popularity stats, knew it was going to be an issue when she started school....but we HAD to have that name. Because we named our daughter after her great-grandmother (who just turned 95 last Friday--and still lives alone!).

Can't help it everyone ELSE had the same idea at the same freakin' time!

Penny said...

My god, I'm post #80. Swistle, you're getting too popular. When are you going to rake in the cash from advertisements on google?

Anyway - just wanted to say that we picked our daughter's name from our grandmothers: Eleanor and Joyce - and now Eleanor is absurdely popular, so it looks like we're just trying to be trendy. I hate that.

Mommy Daisy said...

Wow, look at all these comments. I guess we could talk baby names all day. I will go ahead and post my story, then I'll read the comments. Sorry if I repeat things.

When looking for baby names I wanted something good, but not necessarily common. I didn't want it to be hard to pronounce or totally off the wall either. Then I found myself looking at the social security website (like you mentioned) and other top 10, top 25, top 100, etc. lists.

One of the girl names we liked when I was pregnant was Layla (spelled like that, but there are many other spellings). Then I started seeing it rise on the list in the past few years, so I tried steering my husband away from it. He STILL really likes the name, but I'm going to try to avoid it for future babies too. Although, I still love the name, so maybe I'll give in. ;) I mostly looked at less common girl names.

For boys names I was all over the place. I had one I was really set on that was uncommon. Then when I saw my son, it didn't suit him. My husband had mentioned Zachariah while I was pregnant, but I wasn't sure I liked it at first. Then it started to grow on me. And I saw that it was less common, but still a name people know. I have not yet met someone else by that name. There is a local politician that has the name (he's older though), and my sister met a guy (in his early 20s maybe) with that name. Those are the only run-ins we've had with it. And I kind of like that his name won't be sooo common.

My husband and I have VERY common names. They were popular when we were young, and they are still popular now. I guess I want to avoid that a little with my kids. But like you said, sometimes it's unavoidable.

Sara said...

What a bonus to see Tessie's baby's name listed here! YAY!

We have not come across any other "Edmund" in Eddie's course of daycare. In highschool, I had about 5 friends who had little sisters named Caitlyn (katelin, caitlin, catelyn, kaitlin, kaitlyn, catelin, etc.) and a good friend of mine at work has a 12-year-old named Caitlin. I haven't run in to anyone her age with the same name.

Here are some interesting names I have come across at daycare and through my friends though:

Camden, Davin, Griffin, Liam, Idriss, Iris, Morgan, Sophia, Isabella, Layne

I like the "interesting" factor

Mommy Daisy said...

Ohh, if you want to hear unique/interesting names, sometime I'll tell you about the kids I tutor. So many interesting names. It takes me a while to pronounce them, and even longer to spell them. I think I have them all figured out now.

Wendi said...

Hmmm...I picked my kids' names because I liked them so much, and I thought they were a little on the less-common side.

So far, my daughter has never had a classmate with her name (Paige) and I don't even think I've seen her name on the class lists of other grades (she's in middle school now).

My son's name, Eric, is more common but it's still not one that we see constantly. There was only one year that he had a boy in his class with the same name. (That was in 5th grade and they are still friends now in 12th grade!)

Welcome to our World said...

I liked the idea of uncommon names in theory (before becoming pregnant) but in practice they seem sort of silly to me. I mean really do want Apple Paltrow to be your next president???

Seriously, I find it difficult to consider strapping a name on a kid that is odd just because I do not want any other kids in class to have it. On top of that, kids can be mean - shocking I know but true...

Our son is Matthew which is both biblical (and I am not a biblical kind of gal at all...), traditional and common. We have only run into two Matthews in all of three years and we both knew approximately three Matthew's total in our lives SO with that said we love our son's name (there is also a special meaning behind why we chose this name but partly we could not agree on names at all - Matthew was almost an Ethan which is WAY common as well!)

Not only that but OMG some names just did not fit with our last name and sounded down right stupid. I might get a little more adventurous with names for our next baby but I also am a fan of more traditional "common" names.

I figure everyone is going out trying to come up with unusual names so the common ones are just becoming more uncommon! ;)

Welcome to our World said...

Oh... and a few more things - we were going to name the baby Hannah if it was a girl but I told a friend (which I will never do again) and she made a face and said "but you know that name is in the top 10 most common names list right?" I cried when I got home (Hormones I am sure...) and went back to the drawing board. Kevin & I came up with Kayla instead. So Matthew would have been Kayla if he were a girl.

And I LOVE the name Henry for a boy! He is VERY VERY cute!!!

leendaluu said...

We have twin daughters and live in a college town of about 40,000 (minus the students). Thinking we were being fairly original, one is named Annika and the other Eliza. Turns out there are three sets of twins in town (very close to our daughters' age)where one twin is named Annika (luckily, of those set we have the only Eliza...boy howdy do we!) That truly must defy odds...I was crushed.

Omaha Mama said...

Cute kid. Great post.

But Henry, and William, and Elizabeth...these are your fake names - yes?

Courtney said...

I came across your site from the Triplet in San Diegos site...sorry to lurk...and this is an old post so I don't know if you'll get it or not, but here is my reply:

I fell in LOVE with the name Jackson back in 1999 and decided that it would be my boys name no matter what...well, I didn't have a little boy till 2005, and by that time it was incredibly common, but I stuck with it. I didn't want a common name and sometimes I am sad I stuck with it, because in his mother's day out there are only 6 kids, 2 jacksons and a jack are 3 of them!

however, with my little girl, whom we just had 10 months ago, I named her Creighton and that is really really uncommon and I LOVE IT!

jonniker said...

Because I'm a dumbass, I don't think I ever realized that the kids' names were fake, therefore my William comment is absolutely ASI.NINE, and completely clueless.

Unless of course, William's name is something just as common, in which case, I maintain that she's a dumbass.

Swistle said...

Omaha Mama, Jonniker, etc.-- I know, it gets confusing! When I make remarks that include the pseudonyms, I generally make sure they're true for the real names. So, for example, although William isn't his real name, his real name is something just as common with the same basic popularity trajectory. And when I say I like common names and deliberately choose them, that is in fact true, and the real names ARE common--just not these particular common names. I chose pseudonyms that were reasonable substitutes, so that I could still talk about names. It doesn't ALWAYS work, but USUALLY does.

Kristine said...

We picked Landon before I got pregnant. I was about 7 months along, we already had a bunch of stuff that said "Landon" on it, when we ran into one of my ex-boyfriend's brother outside our bank. And he said "Oh, want to see pictures of Landon?" My ex had a baby just a month or so earlier and named him Landon....URRRRGH we went ahead with it, because we already had a bunch of stuff and the chances of every having the 2 of them together is slim to none...but it was irritating.

Francesca said...

As the owner of an uncommon (ranked 428 in 2006) but definitely not made up name, I have mixed feelings about the whole naming thing. Growing up I was called Frankie (due to my mother's determination that I would never be known as "Fran" or "Franny") until I was about 9 and came to the conclusion that it was a boy's name and refused to allow anyone (save for my parents who just didn't get it) to call me that anymore. I would always get, "What a beautiful name!" but I still felt 'Francesca' was much too cumbersome a name for a small child like me. I always wished my name were actually Jessica since that's what the baristas at Starbucks always ended up writing on my cups after I told them my name. Substitute teachers were chronically unable to pronounce it and people kept wanting to add an impertinent little "h" to the spelling. That said, I was never lost in a sea of Jennifers or Heathers and years down the road people still remember me. When the time comes for me to have children, I have my eye on less-than-common-but-not-made-up names such as Evelyn (always a favorite) and Deborah (my mom). Although for boys, I just love the popular, class names such as David and Andrew.

Swistle said...

Francesca- It's really nice to hear from someone who had an UNcommon name! I'm always hearing, "I was one of three Jennifers/Jessicas/Shannons and I don't want my daughter to be the same"--but rarely the flip side. I went to school with one of the very first Michaelas (now it's more commonly Mikayla), and she got a lot of teasing for her name. And I'm afraid it crossed over into general teasing of HER.

Rayne of Terror said...

My first name is Jennifer and I used it until college, when I began using my middle name Rayne. I much prefer being the only 30 year old Rayne (although I'm hearing it come up as a baby name now) people know than the 1,000th Jennifer/Jen/Jenny. We picked my sons first and middle name from family names. It turns out his first name, Henry, is becoming more and more common, especially among the internet set, but I don't mind because it's still listed between 90 and 100 most popular for my state. IRL we only know one other Henry. His middle name is my great grandmother's maiden name which was then used as a middle name for my grandpa, dad, and brother. So my Henry is the fourth generation with this Dutch surname used as a middle name. Plus when music people hear it there's a cashe because a v v famous auditorium has the same name.

Sara RN said...

I recently found your blog and love it. This topic is one I am familiar with as a Labor and Delivery nurse. I am always surprised when people are shocked - SHOCKED - that their name is a popular one. Sophia was out of control in 2007. One night we had four Sophia's born on the same night. Seriously! But it was not in the top 10 for 2006 so people thought they were safe. Now it is #1 and still going strong.
One of my favorite stories along this line was from a midwife I work with. A few weeks ago one of her patients told her that they were naming their baby girl "Jayden" a name that they had "made up" together. Thank God the midwife knew them well enough to break the news that Jayden was the third most popular BOY name last year. Needless to say, they left the hospital with a different name. Seriously, that is like saying you made up the name Robert!
We had good names last night at the birth center - Dahlia, Evangeline, Ezra and Hugh.

Swistle said...

Sara RN- OMG, you MUST become a regular over at the baby name blog! We NEED your input in the comment section! It would be SO FUN to have someone on the front lines! Ha ha, they "made up" Jayden!

Incog said...

I know that I am so. insanely. late. to this discussion. But! My parents came up with my name AS A JOKE. They were always kinda kidding around with each other (but not really joking) that they were going to name me Haleakala (after a volcano)(seriously?!)) or Geronimo (which makes me want to yell and do cannonballs off the highdive) or just the letter "G" (which gives a whole new connotation to the then-popular gangsta nickname "G-dawg." *shudder*)

HOWEVER. My actual name came about by my mom and dad doodling around with their last names. My first name is my mothers maiden name spelled backwards (missing a couple redundant letters). My mothers abundant love for Scrabble destined my name for Pete's sake! (And it is about the point riiiiiiiiiiight here that you wonder what the chicken my parents were smoking.)

And while my first grade teacher couldn't pronounce my name correctly for an entire semester (which is DEVASTATING when you are six, let me tell you) and every stranger asks me to repeat it, multiple times, my name is very much...me. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

(But I'm really thinking whenever I have kids they are going to be named Penelope or Clementine or Jonah. Something old-fashioned but not totally unheard of. Cause, seriously, first grade gave me SCARS.)

Doing my best said...

Oh my goodness! Henry!! THE CUTENESS!!! That FACE!

Carmen said...

We chose a name (Kieran) thinking it was rather unusual, at least here in Canada, and then a nurse on the postpartum ward exclaimed that SO MANY PEOPLE were naming their boys Kieran. That popped my bubble a bit, but as it turns out, we've never met another Kieran.