Naming your baby: Parents have struggled with this task for ages. It can feel like the most important parenting decision in the world. And rightly so, there’s a lot to consider.
Of naming kids today, author Alex Williams says, "Baby naming has become an industry — with paid consultants, books, web sites brimming with trend data, and academic studies exploring correlations between baby names and future success. The once-simple task of coming up with a monogram for the baby blanket has evolved into a high-stakes exercise in personal 'branding.'"
So which baby name “brands” are the hottest today? According to the Social Security Administration, the two most popular names of 2012 were Jacob and Sophia — a couple of respectably stealth monikers.
With the top spot for 14 years running, Jacob was derived from the Ecclesiastic Late Latin Iacobus, which is from the Greek Iakōbos, a name derived from the Hebrew Yaakov.
Sophia, another timeless name, has been popular in England since the 17th century when Sophia was the infant daughter of James I. She is enjoying her second year in the Social Security Administration's top spot.
So who's hot on their heels? Emma has risen to second for the girls. The adorable name – meaning “entire” – grew to moderate popularity thanks to it being the name of Edward the Confessor’s mother, Emma of Normandy. Since then, it has become even more visible through literary and popular culture references. Jane Austen’s novel “Emma” (fun fact: the film Clueless was loosely based on this) and, of course, the name Rachel and Ross gave to their baby on Friends in 2005 are two prominent examples.
And the boys? Mason has ascended as a runner-up. A bit nostalgic and offbeat, the name is reminiscent of a simpler time. But this one isn’t reserved for your grandfather’s shuffleboard partner anymore. Mason rose to popularity 25 years ago, when the name first appeared in the soap opera Santa Barbara, and has seen a steady increase since.
In records collected after 1912, current winner Jacob first hit the 100 highest-ranked names for boys in the ‘70s. Vintage-sounding Sophia gained modern popularity in the early ’90s. But a name like Michael — in the top five as recently as 2010 — is a great illustration of the enduring strength of a classic: Michael has held the number one title a whopping 44 times in the last hundred years.
As any Michael can tell you, it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s fair to say the classics will never go out of style, but you might want to put some extra thought into a middle name. With a possible handful of Michaels — or Jacobs or Sophias — in their kindergarten class, there’s a good chance it’ll come up.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.