Retro seems to be the latest trend - at least for baby names.
Those lists of popular and oh-so-trendy names that prospective parents pore over used to be a guide for selecting just the right name. Now, though, they may be more about what not to choose.
"They don't want their child to be a cookie cutter. They want their kid to have a unique identity," says Linda Murray of BabyCenter a San Francisco-based pregnancy and parenting website, which Thursday released its list of top names for 450,000 babies born in 2012 to moms who registered with the site.
Aiden topped the boys' list for the eighth consecutive year. Sophia was No. 1 for girls for the third straight year. But the top 10 lists also include classic names from the past, such as Ava and Lily, as well as Jack, new to the top 10 this year.
Jack was among the top 20 boys names in the 1920s and 1930s, according to the Social Security Administration, which has tracked baby names since 1880, based on applications for Social Security numbers. Its 2012 list comes out in May.
"Names from two generations back are meaningful and retro and have a cool factor," says Murray, who says the site reaches more than 12 million U.S. moms a month. About 75% are white, but more ethnic names appear lower on the list. "Since we focus on the top 100 names, they aren't typically seen here."
BabyCenter's site for Spanish speakers in the USA also has a top 100 list (out in January), which has included crossovers such as Sofia, Isabella and Olivia.
Katie Bednar, of Rochester Hills, Mich., named 19-month-old Evelyn after her grandmother, but she and her husband, Loren, 32, call the baby "Ellie." "We kept the name a secret till after the baby was born," says Bednar, 29. "My grandma was so excited."
Although Lacey Moler of Austin named her 9-month-old Olivia - which ranks third for girls on BabyCenter's list - they call her "Lo," for "Little Olivia."
"We knew when we named her Olivia we would not call her Olivia," says Moler, 30. "It was just so she could have the name to go back on if wanted to have a more professional name."
Moler is co-founder of a website launched in July called BellyBallot.com, which allows real-time reaction from friends and family to potential baby names.
She says names that get consistently high numbers include Savannah, Ava, Michael, Noah and Owen. Those that the site declares "bottomed out" include Emma and Zoe.
Parenting.com, which has compiled baby-name lists in the past, notes that Isabella and Jacob are the most-searched names in 2012. Isabella is fourth on the BabyCenter girls' list, and Jacob is eighth for boys. Four of BabyCenter's top 10 boy names start with the letter J.
Sounds and popularity are both important in name choices, says Jonah Berger of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who has studied 100 years of data on first names.
"The fact that we want to be different leads some people to avoid the most popular name, but it leads us to like similar-sounding names and pick other names with the same sound that are less popular."
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