Baby Names - Choosing Trendy or Traditional

Lists of baby names are always fun to look at, whether you're seeking a name for your soon-to-be-born baby boy or baby girl, wondering about the popularity of your own first name, or just curious about what baby names are currently hot.

What I find particularly interesting is tracking the popularity of baby names over the decades. In looking through U.S. government baby name lists from 1880 to the present, some amusing patterns emerge, particularly in regards to baby names for girls.

For example, in Victorian times Biblical names, such as Mary, Sarah and Ruth were very popular for baby girls. There were also many baby names that sounded very old-fashioned to me, as a kid growing up in the 1960s, including names like Martha, Alice, Bertha and Minnie.

From the 1920s to the 1950s certain baby names rose in popularity. For example, I went to school with many Susans, Debbies, Patricias, and Lindas. All of these baby names have since waned, to be replaced, by the 1980s, with fancier names such as Jennifer, Jessica and Nicole. When I was a children's librarian in the 1980s my preschool storyhours were populated with little girls named Lauren and Jenny, and little boys named Alex and Matthew.

More recently there's been a lot of renewed interest in more "old-fashioned" baby names like Hannah, Abigail and Ethan, plus many Biblical names such as Sarah, Rachel, Joshua, Jacob, and Samuel. There's also been a surge in nontraditional baby names including Madison, Ashley and Brianna for baby girls, and Brandon and Logan for baby boys.

It's interesting to consider the whys and wherefores of such developments. Sometimes, I suspect, the popularity of a specific actor or fictional character might result in many babies with a particular name. For example, were some of the Lauras born in the 1970s and 1980s given a name suggested by older brothers and sisters who were growing up watching "Little House on the Prairie ?" Were some attributable to the super popular Laura of "General Hospital" fame ?

Today Madison is a very highly ranked baby name for girls (ranking number 3 in 2003) but, when the film "Splash" came out in 1984, Tom Hanks' character told Daryl Hannah's character that Madison was not a bona fide first name.

While baby girls' names seem quite subject to the whims of fashion and the top ten lists can change radically over time, I've noticed that, in general, the top baby names for boys remain far more stable. Names like John, William and James are perennials, perhaps because baby boys are often named for their fathers, perpetuating the popularity of certain baby names from generation to generation. The "Junior" factor aside, baby boys are also less apt to be given fanciful names.

A comparison of the changing fortunes of my own first name, Barbara, with those of my husband's name, Robert, gives a good illustration of the difference in stability between baby girl names and baby boy names over time.

My name grew in popularity in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, peaking at the number 2 position in baby name popularity, which it tenaciously held from 1937 to 1944. When I attended grad school, of a class of approximately forty students, there were no less than three baby boomers named Barbara. Should I thank the actress Barbara Stanwyck for this ? Alas, my first name later suffered a slow, steady decline and placed at a pitiful number 628 position on the baby names popularity list for the U.S. in 2003.

Robert, on the other hand, has survived the vicissitudes of baby name popularity. It held a coveted spot on the top ten most popular baby names list every year from 1896 to the late 1980s, often peaking at number 1 between the 1920s and the 1950s. It has gradually slipped since the 1990s, but still managed to hold the respectable slot of number 35 in 2003.

When naming a baby there are, of course, many other points to consider besides how popular or unique a name is. Here are some helpful tips that you can use with your other children to get them involved in choosing a name for the new baby and to make the process fun:

1. Baby names need to go nicely with the sound of your last name. Also, pick a first name and a middle name that go together well. (So maybe not something like Erasmus Beelzebub Smith !)

2. When your family finds a name you all like, look at the initials to be sure that you don't give the new baby a name with initials that will make people laugh. (So maybe not Pamela Iris Green, which equals P.I.G. !)

3. You might not want a baby name that is so unusual that the other kids will make fun of your little brother or sister as he or she grows up. (So maybe not Rosebud or Molasses !)

4. You also might not want a baby name that is so trendy that it will sound funny by the time the baby is ten years old. (So maybe not Sunshine !)

5. You probably shouldn't pick a name that's really cute for an adorable little baby but will sound silly when the baby grows up. (So maybe not Dimples !)

6. Avoid baby names that might produce insulting nicknames when people shorten them. (So maybe not Smellonius, or Smelly for short !)

7. You and your family might not want a name that is so hard to spell or to pronounce that people will always get it wrong and your poor little brother or sister will have to go through life correcting people. (So maybe not something like Incandescence, or is it Incandessints ? )

8. You and your family might want to pick baby names in honor of favorite relatives or ancestors, or special names that show your family's ethnic roots. You might even find a special name from a book or movie that you love. (Like Harry ?)

9. You might want to look through books of baby names and pick one that has a special meaning that you like - maybe something that means "sweet" or "kind" or "brave." (So maybe not wimp !)

10. You might want to think about names that will go nicely with your name and your other brothers' and sisters' names, so that if mom or dad are calling you all for dinner or signing a birthday card to grandma it won't sound too crazy. (So maybe not "Happy Birthday, Grandma ! Love, Joey, Cindy and Dweevo !")

There are hundreds of names waiting for you out there, so good luck on your search for the perfect name !

Barbara Freedman-De Vito, professional storyteller, teacher and artist, has a website with baby clothes, children's clothing and gift items decorated with her colorful and amusing artwork for kids. Visit Baby Bird Productions Children's Clothing and Baby Clothes at http://www.childrensclothing babyclothes.com

Stammering Toddler

Some parents have the shock of hearing their young child start stammering as a toddler.... Read More

A New Baby can be Expensive!

A new baby brings a lot of joy and hope to a family. It also... Read More

Baby Shower Hosting 101

Are you ready to host the best baby shower ever but don't know where to... Read More

Baby Shower Favors to Spice up Your Baby Shower

Baby Shower Favors should be at every baby shower for its guests. Cute little items,... Read More

Does Your Baby Necessarily Need Shoes?

When you came up with such question, what will be your answer? You understand that... Read More

How to Choose a Baby Gate

Once your baby is out of their crib and playpen, you're going to need some... Read More

Baby Room Decor Tips & Hints

When you plan for a baby room decor, the best thing would be to give... Read More

Five Easy Steps to Potty Train Your Baby

No?Don't let your child pee or poop every where and make your life miserable. Try... Read More

Baby Shower Themes For Your Special Baby Shower

Do you want to provide a baby shower that is great fun for guests, inviting... Read More

The Scoop on Giving Your Baby Juice

Many moms like to think that as soon as their baby turns 6 months of... Read More

Theory of Child Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget has allowed us many insights into child cognitive development and his valuable research... Read More

The Making of a Mini-Model

Baby modeling isn't an exclusive art - nor is it as potentially fraught with danger... Read More

Helping Your Baby Develop Character

How Can We Help Children Learn about Character?Children learn about strong character when parents and... Read More

Baby Shower Games For Your Special Baby Shower

So you're holding a baby shower? Then you will need baby shower games to keep... Read More

Potty Training At Daycare and Preschool

With 61% of children between the ages of birth and 6 years in daycare, it's... Read More

Basic Guide To Choosing Toys For Babies

A baby's only activities until the age of two months are sleeping and eating. He... Read More

Baby Safety & the Family Dog

I recall how wonderful the baby swing in particular, was for moments of peace and... Read More

Baby Shower Invitations Add Style To Baby Announcements

Baby shower invitations set the tone for the big dayBaby shower invitations reflect the joy... Read More

When to Have a Baby Shower

When to have a baby shower is a personal choice. It can be held anytime... Read More

20 Popular Quotations About Babies

1. "A baby is God's way of saying the world should go on." - Doris... Read More

Baby Yoga and Me

Having carried a sizable bump around for a very long, very hot summer, I really... Read More

Perfect Baby Shower Hostess Gifts

Picture this; you are invited to a baby shower. How do you show your appreciation... Read More

A Birth Announcement That Is Both Practical and Sentimental

The best birth announcement is both practical and sentimental. Welcome your new baby into the... Read More

Safely Feeding Babies - 10 Important Tips

Babies usually triple their birth weight the first year. That's why nutritious and safely handled... Read More

First Birthday Party: Game and Activities for Little Guests

Do you want your baby to be thrilled by his or her first Birthday Party?... Read More

How to Choose a Baby Swing

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1,000 American infants are taken to emergency... Read More

Welcome an Adopted Baby into the Family with an Adoption Baby Shower

The addition of a new child to a family is a wonderous occasion! An adopted... Read More

Should Your Baby Sleep In Your Bed?

Should baby sleep in her own cot or in bed with you? There... Read More

Properly Care For Your Children

When it comes to your newborn or children's health, it is very important to get... Read More

Keeping Your New Baby Safe

After all the baby furniture is purchased, you'll have to start thinking of baby safety... Read More

A Baby Shower Cake is the Highlight of the Baby Shower

When you're holding a baby shower one of the most important items that you'll serve... Read More

The Mystery Around Colic

You are a proud parent of a happy and healthy 2 week old baby. You... Read More

Choosing Baby Names for Twins

Choosing a baby name for your new born can be quite a stressful decision. With... Read More

Planning the Perfect Baby Shower

One of the most exciting events an expecting mother looks forward to is celebrating her... Read More

Baby Shower Gifts

As a host, you need to consider the people that will be on the invitation... Read More

How to Clean Those Lovable Plush Toys

Are YOUR Stuffed Animals DIRTY?Stuffed animals and dollies can lead a hard life, if they're... Read More

Baby Shower Centerpieces That Double as a Gift!

Here you will learn how to make and where to purchase your baby shower centerpieces.... Read More

How To Stop Toddlers From Biting

It is an unfortunate fact of life but, unfortunately, toddlers and biting frequently go together.... Read More

Getting to Know Your Baby: Babys Second Month Guide

Time has flown. Your little bundle of joy has been a part of your home... Read More

Baby Massage: A Cure for Colic

Colic hurts. Any parent who has an affected child will know that there is almost... Read More

Feng Shui Fertility: Six Ways to Create More Baby Chi

Today, feng shui is used for everything from arranging office cubicles to gaining more recognition... Read More

Potty Training in One Day - Can You Really Potty Train in a Day? What Does It Mean?

Sounds great ? doesn't it?Or does it sound too good to be true?It all comes... Read More

Baby Shower Recipes

Baby shower recipes are available on the Internet and in various cook ... Read More

Stem Cells Taken From A Babys Cord

Stem Cells..An increasing number of parents are storing stem cells from their baby's cord. Hopefully... Read More

Moses Baby Baskets

Moses Baby Baskets are a traditional, convenient place for babies especially for one who cannot... Read More

Selecting a Baby Shower Theme: Easy as One Two Three

No aspect of party planning is more crucial and sometimes mind boggling to a baby... Read More

10 Items of the Well-Stocked Diaper Bag

Does your diaper bag have everything you need in it? Of course, you have the... Read More

How to Choose a Changing Table

As a prospective parent, you may wonder how hard it could possibly be when it... Read More

Baby Shower Gift Ideas

A few guests can get together and get a big laundry basket. Place in it... Read More

Potty Training Techniques That Dont Work

Your attitude and actions have a huge impact on your child's potty training success. The... Read More