How Can I Avoid Giving My Baby a Name That Will Get Too Trendy?

Filed under: Baby Names, Expert Advice: Pregnancy, Expert Advice: Babies, Expert Advice: Just For You

Dear Name Lady:

We have a very common last name, so we don't want to choose a name for our baby girl that is too common. We've ruled out the current top 25 names. But there are a lot of names that we like (e.g., Annabelle and Eva) that are in the top 100s now and seem to be rising in popularity. Do you have any suggestions -- either of specific names or general trends to look out for -- on how to avoid choosing a name that will top of the charts in a few years?

- Jane

A lot of parents today suffer from "name acrophobia" -- the fear that their favorite baby name will climb to the dizzying top of the popularity charts. Is there any surefire way to avoid picking the next Jacob or Emma?Indeed there is. If you want to know the deep, dark secret, come closer so I can whisper. Ready? To avoid an upcoming hit name...pick a name that nobody likes, not even you. After all, the names that rise are the names with broad appeal.

What, you don't want to name your son Buford? Then let's cut to the core of the problem. What you and I and many others want is to have it both ways. We want a name that's fashionable, yet not in fashion. We want everybody to like the name we choose, but nobody to consider choosing it themselves.

Not surprisingly, that's a difficult target. If you do stumble across a familiar, attractive name that nobody's using, a hundred other parents are probably stumbling across it at the same time. But there are a few rules of thumb that can help you identify the most likely fast risers:

- Watch out for hot sounds. Sound-alike groups like Aidan, Braden and Hayden often sweep up the charts together. Similarly, the rapid rise of Isabella was an early sign that Annabelle was heading upwards.

- Follow the momentum. Name popularity isn't just about a name's current ranking, it's about where it's been and where it's heading. Take a look at the historical trend for Annabelle at the Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager, and you'll see a name that's pushing upwards. Meanwhile, a name like Julianna is at the same level of popularity, but seems to have settled in steadily. That makes Julianna a good bet to avoid the kind of super popularity you're worried about.

- Choose something timeless. Names like Johanna and Cecilia have held steady for generations, never really going in or out of fashion. Even if they do become more popular, that timeless history should protect them from sounding too trendy.

Do you like names that are uncommon, or trendy? Share your experiences! And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

Related: Old-Fashioned Names: Good or Bad?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.