Baby Names: Part II


John Paul and I decided that we want to find out the gender of the baby ahead of time but not tell anyone the name we've chosen until the baby is born.

This way there is still some element of surprise but we can also plan ahead. And to be honest, I also feel that people are less likely to criticize your name choice after it's already on the baby. There is no name that will be universally loved, so if you have your heart set on a name and don't have very thick skin, keep it to yourself. People will get used to it after the fact.

Now that we are actually pregnant, everyone seems to be trying to remember back to all the baby names conversations we've had with them since we got married so that they can guess what our names will be.

Well back in December (before I was pregnant) I wrote this post about baby names. It gave the basic run down of my philosophy on names and the sorts of names I like (for example I like typically masculine names on girls). The summary is this: Unique but not weird. I want to choose names that people have heard of but don't know many people with the name. That is my goal.

I think I mentioned that I like to look at the top names every year (there is an official list on the social security website) and try not to pick any names in the top ten. I'm not saying that naming your child a top ten name is bad. If your child's name is popular, well it's probably popular for a reason. In fact, names that I have been holding onto (remember my ongoing list?) for years and years are suddenly skyrocketing into popularity.

Here I thought they were unique and now I'm second guessing them. The biggest example for this is Liam. I have always adored the name Liam. It wasn't until the last few years that it became popular and I'm kind of heartbroken about that. I may still use it, but it's way down the list now that it's gained popularity. That doesn't mean I like it any less and that is why I am sad it's not all that unique anymore.

One thing that I find interesting is how unique names can seem when you're naming your child. My mother named my older brother Matthew. By the time he was in school he was one of the many Matthews in his class. My mom swears that when she named him Matthew, she didn't know any Matthews and thought it was unique.

I see the same thing happening now. My parents and in laws will hear a name like Jayden and think it's really different, even a little weird. They don't know anyone named Jayden so it must be unique, right? Wrong. Jayden has been in the top ten for years. It was the number four most popular name in 2010. That's very high. That means there are a lot of baby boys named Jayden out there and when they get a little older my parents and in laws will realize that its a very popular name. Not weird at all actually.

A blog that I read recently said that another way you can gage the popularity of the name you've chosen is to look at the pottery barn catalog. If your name is one of the personalization's popular. Why else would they need to mass produce it? I found this interesting so I looked it up.

The name on the cover? Hudson. A name I thought was pretty unique when someone we knew named their baby boy that. Other names that were listed that I was surprised by: Oliver, Oscar and Hayden. For the girls the cover was Madeline. Some surprises: Addison and Stella.

BUT I was encouraged by a recent baby name book I read. It said that even the most popular names of our day aren't nearly as popular as generations before us. In a culture where people like individuality, the amount of names used is a lot more diverse. Whereas the number one name in 1965, Michael, represented 4.28 percent of all male babies (81,041 babies born that year), the number one name in 2009, Jacob, represented only 1 percent of all male babies born in the U.S. (20,858 little guys total). (Source: The Baby Names Almanac 2011 by Emily Larson). Which means...there are more names out there, more people trying to be different, and even the popular names are less used than you might think.

John Paul doesn't really understand why I care so much about the popularity of a name. In his mind if you like it you use it, who cares what other people do. But for me, I just grew up loving my name and loving that I never had to share it. I'd really like to duplicate that for my kids.

Of course, at the end of the day, we're going to use names we love and that have significant meaning for us. If our kids have friends with the same names, that's okay. And maybe inevitable. I'm not committed enough to this to make up completely new names.

And yes, we have picked out the name of our baby already---to be revealed in September. Stay tuned. :)


  1. Thank for your thoughts. My wife is pregnant now and she will be giving birth 2 months form now. We had a baby boy this time and never had think of a baby name yet. It's hard to decide but thanks to all your advice. this gives me a lot of idea. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That statistic does make a lot of sense - about there being less kids named with a popular name than there were in, like, the '50s, when the internet wasn't around. I've always loved my name - and known a couple, but not very many with it, so I've always been happy I wasn't an Ashley or Amanda or something of that nature...

    Our last name is so ridiculously common that I demanded we not name our children anything "popular" and I poured over the Social Security website a lot to look at my choices. I loved the name Aidan - like Aidan Quinn - but apparently everyone else likes that and every "-ayden" like name, too, so we just used it as a middle name for Parker. Parker was born in 2008, so at the time the 2007 ranking for his name wasn't even in the top 100, so I thought we were safe... and then of course it has just steadily climbed ever since - and is definitely featured in PB catalogs, haha. : / Oh well, nothin' you can do about it after the fact! I love his name, and it's perfect on him. August was barely even in the top 500 when we named him last year, so I feel pretty sure of that one not getting too up there. : )

    I was hoping you were at least going to give a small list of some of your favorites, and let us guess which it might be, though! Tease!

    (Oddly, I just left this comment for you, and was very alarmed when I saw your name and profile picture next to it! Uhhh, apparently I need to screw my head on straight because my computer was still logged into your Blogger from formatting your template last week. Glad I haven't been leaving comments for other people lately! Haha.)

  3. I agree, Noelle! I loved not knowing many other Mollies growing up. I STILL don't know many other Mollies. Oddly enough, though, the one other Molly I did know was a Molly Elizabeth, same as me. Weird.
    Anyway, hope things are going well! I'm happy for you!!

  4. I totally hear ya on this! I loooove names, and have had an ongoing name list since I was 14 or so :) But when it came down to naming our son, I so badly wanted to pick something, just like you said, unique but not weird. After all, this was going to be HIS NAME FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE... yeah i felt the pressure ;) haha. I think it's a good idea for you to keep it quiet until baby arrives.. people are definitely more likely to keep negative opinions to themselves! xoxo
    (By the way, I found you through She Breathes Deeply!)

  5. I really love a unique name, and I also try to steer away from the popular trending names. I've gotten a lot of flack from family and friends for my kid's names, ESPECIALLY the little girl I am due to have in August. We just announced her name (Selah Grace) and we get so much scrutiny over it. We got a lot of scrutiny over my son Gideon's name too! Adeline's name wasn't disliked as badly though. At the end of it all, you really avoid a lot of it if you do keep the name a secret. I have a hard time keeping secrets and I like to explode with things that make me giddy. However, it is so much less likely for someone looking at a sweet little newborn in your/their arms and criticism the name of him/her.
    I think as long as Mommy and DAddy love the name then that's all that matters!

  6. Indeed an informative article. I like a unique name. So i even visit baby names sites and suggest names to my friends and family,I think your article is unique . i am also a regular visitor of and have found ideas like this. Even i am quite pleased with your baby names explanation.