How To Find Contentment With Popular Names

class-listWhen I asked readers to share what they consider the most difficult aspect of finding a baby name, not surprisingly, one of the top 4 was the fear that their child would share a name with many others.

In most areas of life, popularity is sought, not avoided, but with baby names, popularity is like a disease—something to avoid.

Our children are all special snowflakes to us. We–understandably—want their moniker to represent their individuality.

And yet most of us want our child to have a name that fits in a little—and herein lies the problem.

Any name that fits in is susceptible to discovery by everyone else. Any name susceptible to discovery could become more popular. Formerly obscure names have been known to zoom up the baby name ranks seemingly overnight.

The logical argument has been used to assuage popularity fear before.

The logical argument, as you may already know, if you follow baby name discussions closely, is that fewer babies get top 10 names now than in years past.

Statistically speaking, there is little chance that a child born 2012 and given the top boy or girl name (Jacob or Sophia) will become 1 of 5+ in a class of 20 kids because only about 1 in 100 babies get the top baby name each year. (In 2012, 0.94% of boys were named Jacob and 1.15% of girls were named Sophia.)

This fact is touted a bit, and yet this fact has done little to ease popularity fear.

This is because popularity fear is not a logical fear–it’s an emotional fear.

And I get it.

I too once dreaded the possibility that my children could share their names with several others. After all, they are my little snowflakes.

That’s why I’m not going to address this emotional fear with logic. I’m not going to bombard you with statistics. And this is coming from a former Market Research Analyst who loves statistics. I’m especially obsessed with baby name statistics.

But I’m not going to throw any statistics at you today. Instead, I’m going to attempt to connect with you on a personal level.

Readers: When it comes to names, how popular is too popular? Under what circumstances would you use a popular name?

I would like to thank my camera man, none other than my patient hubby Rob. He sacrificed part of his Sunday, and his only compensation is my happy gratitude. But as the saying goes, when the wife’s not happy… nobody’s happy.

Photo credit


  1. I think this is a very good metaphor. I had that feeling with our girl name, and know with certainty that it *could* climb the charts without altering my opinion of it. Our boy choice is definitely my husband’s love, I took years of warming up to it before I truly loved it, but I think it’s nice to have more than one experience of getting there. I will end by saying that I live in mortal fear of having to speak on camera and people who manage it without getting the dreaded throat quaver have my admiration!

  2. I would say, for me a Top 10 name would be “too popular”, and I’d probably be a bit leery of anything in the Top 20.

    It’s certainly not logical, and I definitely don’t have any fears of children sharing a classroom – my youngest daughter has another girl in her class with the same name and she LOVES it!

    I think it’s more than when a name is very popular, and you hear it a lot, for me a bit of shine goes off it. I get a bit of a “meh” response to it, even though most of the very popular names are really nice.

    I don’t care if the chosen name gets very popular in the future – it’s just how popular it is at the time.

    • I know what you mean about a name losing its shine once it becomes top 10 or 20.

      I have heard of parents getting so nervous about a name becoming popular that they would go as far to avoid names in the top 1000. I wrote this to speak to those people. And I used to be one of those people.

      That’s why I used Owen as an example. I suspect that name will hit the top 10 within the next 10 years, but I really love it and would use it now despite that. And if that name had become my son’s name, I would still love it even if it hit the top 10 by the time he turned 10.

      What’s great about name statistics is that they make it easy for people like you who only care about how popular a name is at the time.

  3. Well done on the video! I’ve fallen into the popularity trap too: some names that I used to like, somehow have lost their shine a bit now that they’ve risen in popularity. Time will tell if that happens to my current favourites.

  4. Thanks so much for this post… And I think the video was great!


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