Best Baby Names to Give Your Baby a Good Start
Best Baby Names
Naming your baby could be one of the most important decisions of your life, and it could be the most important decision for your child's life, too. Babies don't get much say, so you are going to have to do your best to give your baby the perfect name.
Half of the work of naming a baby is creativity, half is wisdom, and the other half is personal taste. Oh wait–that's three halves. Johnny Cash sang a song called A Boy Named Sue about a dad who knew he wouldn't be around to make his son tough so he gave him a name that would get him into fights. When considering names, maybe you've thought about how each one will be modified on the playground at recess. Hopefully, you are not as cruel as the dad in Cash's song, but you'll still want to consider many options and scenarios when choosing the name.
You aren't reading this to choose an awful name, you want the best for your kid: although the relative quality of a baby name is totally subjective, all parents benefit from knowing how to choose the best name for their baby, a name that will give your child a good start, one that exemplifies positive qualities. Maybe you want the hottest baby name or perhaps you're looking for one that isn't too trendy. Whatever you are looking for in your baby's name, good research and a little creativity can point you in the right direction.
The Science of Naming Your Baby
Depending on what you are going for, you can use data trends to help make a good decision. I found some interesting baby-naming data and discussion in an unlikely book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005) by economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen Dubner. The words "baby" and "names" aren't even in the title but in its last chapter, the authors explore the data of California's birth records to investigate how people choose names. Levitt and Dubner pose the question, "does the name you give your child affect his life? Or is it your life reflected in his name?...and most importantly, does it really matter?"
The authors did not write the book to help you name your baby, and I am not going to report everything they say about the socioeconomic patterns of naming children, but it is part of the research I used to write this article providing options to guide your-baby naming decision.
Below, you'll find sections of options that allow you to make the best baby name combo to fit your needs.
Rich Baby Names vs. Poor Baby Names
Levitt and Dubner found that rich parents name their children differently than poor parents. Interestingly, they concluded that it seems the most popular names are far less popular for the upper class, who also tend to have more education. "There is a clear pattern at play: it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder."
So if you want to name your baby a low income name, simply give them a name that reflects a hot trend that has run its course. If you want to give your baby an upper income name, you will have to be a little more original. We'll get to predicting that later.
Five Most Common White Girl Names (Levitt, 2005):
Ten Most Popular Girl Names of 2013:
Ten Most Popular Girl Names of 2014 (so far):
Five Most Common White Boy Names (Levitt, 2005):
Ten Most Popular Boys Names for 2013:
Ten Most Popular Boys' Names of 2014 (so far):
(Scroll down to see more lists of popular names.)
Popular Baby Names vs. Unpopular Baby Names
Although a name's popularity is always changing to some degree, there seems to be some recycling of names. Levitt and Dubner explain that people expect that pop stars influence baby naming, but this isn't the case. Their example is that "Britney" was popular before Britney Spears reached stardom, which makes her a result of the trend, not its cause.
So while fame does not seem to be a factor, there does seem to be correlation between income and education in naming. There are similar naming trends among people who have less income and education, just as there are similarities between naming trends amongst the rich and well-educated.
Most people reading this are probably going to go for either the latest trend or something totally unique. If you are looking to catch the latest trend, the one that hasn't been recorded yet, you simply need to look at your neighbors who have a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood. If you use a name they use, then you will have a trendy name for your baby. It will probably become popular in a few years.
Baby Naming Suggestions
If you live in the nicer house in the nicer neighborhood, then it is up to you to set the trend. Or maybe you aren't upper class, but want something original. You might be a trend-setter, too. Here are some simple suggestions to get you on your way:
- Use a last name as your baby's first. Levitt (2005) predicted the most popular names of 2015. It included the last name of yours truly. Yep, "Flannery" was a predicted most popular girl name for 2015. (My name is Irish, by the way.) If you want more proof that the last-name-as-first thing works, think of all the little Madisons running around now. Why not use all the founders' names: Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, etc. Other last-names-as-first-names mentioned were Quinn, Anderson, Jackson, McGregor, Cooper, Finnegan, and Bennett.
- Use names that were popular when your grandparents or great-grandparents were born. For example, Levitt predicts the reemergence of Max, Oliver, and Ansel. Mabel, Helen, and Maude might be ready for a comeback. And if you use your own great or great-grandparent's name, it is a great way to honor your elders by keeping their name alive.
- Look for less popular names from the Bible. Peter, Matthew, James, John, David, and Methuselah are all popular names from the Holy book. O.K. so Methuselah still isn't popular. That doesn't mean it won't be in the future. How about Ahab, Gilead, Jude, Joanna, Kezia, or Mahali? Here's a list of names from the Bible.
Whatever you decide to name your baby, the name probably has more to say about you than your baby. Most people don't wait to ask their kid what they want to be named when they can talk, thank goodness; otherwise, we would have a bunch of kids named after Disney characters. Anyway, you name them and then they live with you for 1/3 of their life, so give them the best start you can. The naming is probably the easiest part.
Creative New Baby Names: Baby Naming Trend Setting
If you don't like any of the names that have been around for centuries, then it is always an option for you to name your baby creatively. Just make up a name. This will probably become more of a trend as the computer age has caused people to make up aliases and avatars with interesting names. It's easy and simple. Here are some examples:
Or use words as names:
Or look to maps, literature, stars, unabridged dictionaries, or obscure encyclopedia for ideas.
What's the best way to name a baby?
How will you choose a name for your baby?
Baby Names: Popular or Not?
Would you choose a popular, trendy name for your baby?
Most Popular Baby Names of 2000s
This is Baby Center's lists of top 5 baby names of the decade of 2000-2009. If you have or will name your baby one of these names, then you are following, rather than setting, the trend.
Top girls' names of the decade:
Top boys' names of the decade:
Most Popular Baby Names of 2011
Popular Baby Name Trends
- From Classic to Cringe-Worthy: Baby Names and What Makes Them Popular on Shine
Celebrity DNA is spreading and the resulting unusual baby names are giving us the kind of water-cooler fodder we crave. This last year has brought us prized favorites such as Sparrow, Mars, Atlas, Dreavyn, Ikhyd (shown here with his mom, rapper
Social Security Administration List of Popular Names
- Popular Baby Names
Check this for the government data of updated baby names.