Naming a baby is one of life’s most important decisions. No pressure! While you may have had your heart set on a name since you were playing with dolls, for most of us, pregnancy is a time to really get the wheels turning. Let us be your guide as we look at what’s hot, what’s not and what we see trending in 2014.


The Popular Preschool Crowd
When we were kids, everyone was Jennifer, Jessica, Michelle, Michael, Matthew or Jason. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many of those on the playground these days. If you want your baby to run with the pack these days, check out the current most-popular names for preschoolers below. Conversely, if you want to stand out or avoid your kid being called “Little Liam” or “Emily H.,” these are the names to avoid.

Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Mia, Madison, Elizabeth                            

Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Noah, William, Liam, Jayden, Michael, Alexander, Aiden


Trend Setters
What’s been hot in 2013? It’ll take a lot to knock Jacob off his pedestal. These are the other names that your Lamaze friends are currently considering for their sons:

Asher, Finn, Declan, Atticus, James, Oliver, Henry, Emmett, Owen and Django. (It seems we hope to birth a generation of future lawyers and writers.)

For our daughters, it’s Imogen, Charlotte, Harper, Eleanor, Amelia, Evelyn, Isla, Violet, Penelope, and Cora. How very, very Downton Abbey!

May we suggest that while these are all lovely names, if you are expecting twins or already have a young one, you may wish to avoid a few combinations for your progeny amidst these popular names. For instance: Harper and Atticus (people will think To Kill A Mockingbird is the only book you’ve ever read) or Django and Eleanor (picture First Lady Roosevelt and Jamie Foxx playing in the sandbox … it’s just weird).


Girls Who Are Boys Who Like Boys To Be Girls
Confused? Read on. Blurring gender lines in names has become increasingly popular and shows no signs of a slowdown. Unisex names are nothing new; our generation has our share of Leslies and Shannons — and there’s always Pat from Saturday Night Live. But today’s names that are perfect fits for your XX and XY offspring sound more like Rowan, Quinn, Kai, Sawyer, Avery, Charlie, North (thanks Kanye!), Elliot, Finley and Emerson. 


Speaking of Kanye
One trend that’s gaining steam is naming kids after pop culture figures — and their babies. To that end, look for a whole slew of babies named North (for Kanye and Kim’s baby), George (after the future king of England — this name has already seen a huge bump in popularity in the monarch’s short life), Ace (Jessica Simpon’s baby boy), Axl (Fergie’s tot), Lincoln (Kristen Bell’s babe) and Cricket (Busy Phillip’s little girl).

Names in books and movies also make a mark; there are a lot of Bellas and Edwards in kindergarten, though that trend is waning. Katniss hit the charts for the first time a year ago, after Jennifer Lawrence showed us that the name is synonymous for tough cool chick.  And while we’re talking about tough chicks, if the Former Secretary of State announces her presidential candidacy soon, look for some baby Hillarys in the nursery next year.


Twins & Sibs
Remember, you’re not naming baby in a vacuum. There are a lot of factors to consider, starting with their existing (or future) siblings. How will their names sound together? For twins this is extra important, as their names are so often said in concert. Alliteration is big with twin and sibling name combos. For sister acts, you see Olivia & Sophia, Gabriella & Isabella and Ella & Emma. Boy pairs go classic with Daniel & David, Jacob & Joshua and Isaac & Isaiah. For mixed sets, the most common names are those that sound alike, like Madison & Mason, Olivia & Owen and Jayda & Jaden.

Put. A. Bird. On. It.
If you got that reference, you’re a fan of Portlandia. And if you’re a fan of Portlandia, you may gravitate to hipster names, which are popping up in places across America where little black glasses are de rigeur (hello, Austin, Portland, Silverlake and Williamsburg!). Baby boy hipsters-in-the-making are likely to have quirky-cool names like Byron, Enoch, Gulliver, Ignatius, Lennon, Salinger or Zane. Girl indie chicks are more often monikered Inez, Minnie, Odete, Pandora (after the box, not the music channel), Tessie, Wren or Zola. Score double hipster points for gender mixing and matching (Enoch Wren for a boy, or Inez Zane for a girl).


Everything Old is New
Vintage is always fresh and happening, and the list of the most popular names today looks similar to that of 100 years ago. The newly trending vintage names (we realize that’s an oxymoron) are Charlie, Frederick or Randolph for boys; and Clara, Selma and Edith for girls.  What’s even more meaningful is if you can find the old family bible and dredge up a Civil War-era Great Great Grandma to name baby after. Look for Stedman, Hazel, Ambrose and Jospehine to start populating the playground as well as the history books in the years to come.

More Trends for 2014: Nature, Books and Global
2014 is the Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac, and babies born in this year are said to love nature. In that spirit, consider flower names for girls and tree and leaf names for boys (think Lilac and Poppy, Aspen and River). You can also not go wrong with a literature-inspired name (well, almost never… we respectfully suggest that Anastasia and Christian are not the most appropriate namesakes).

And, finally, many new parents are looking to their heritage for baby names. Imagine if your Icelandic heritage meets his German side with little Lilija Raine, or perhaps Noah Deshi blends your Jewish and Chinese backgrounds.

The long and short of it is, baby naming is a fun game to play, and trends and celebs are a hoot to follow. But when you hear just the right name for your little bundle of joy, you’ll know it!

What names are you considering? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Photo credits:  ECohen via Creative Commons, Stevie Lee via Creative Commons, Thrasher Dave via Creative Commons, treehouse1977 via Creative Commons, boy27wonder via Creative Commons, imallergic via Creative Commons, Beth Nazario via Creative Commons and rumpleteaser via Creative Commons.

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