Should I Give My Baby a Popular Name?

There are two types of people in the world: the ones who embrace trends and the ones who avoid them. But what happens when these two worlds collide? When something that’s a little too popular for your liking becomes something that’s so appealing you can’t deny it?

Many parents run into this predicament when choosing a baby name. It can be easy to say we want something a little out of the ordinary, a baby name with an edge, or something that’s totally unique. But every now and then, the Social Security Administration’s most popular baby names have something undeniably lovable on the list.

Parents who find themselves in this pickle may try to talk themselves out of opting for a “popular baby name.” Maybe they grew up with one themselves and hated all the confusion in the classroom (we see you, Jessica and Ashley!). Or maybe a unique name sounds more appealing. No matter what, if you’re grappling with the question, “Should I give my baby a popular name?” we’re here to tell you, yes! If you’re considering one of the year’s most popular baby names, here’s why you should go for it.

It’s Not Nearly as Noticeable as It Used to Be

The fact is, even though we still have a list of the top baby names that showcase the popularity of choices each year, a lot has changed over the decades. A name making the Social Security Administration’s yearly list in 2023 does not have the same implications as it did in 1990, for example. That’s because a couple of things have changed in 30 years (OK, a lot has changed). For one, it’s highly likely that the variety of names has grown as parents are thinking more and more out of the box and pushing the boundaries of traditional baby name norms. On top of that, there are simply more kids out there now than there were then.

Let’s put it this way. In 1994, there were an estimated 68.6 million children aged 0-17 in the United States. Now, in 2024, there’s an estimated 74.6 million. That’s a significant increase and a lot more names added to school rosters.

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On top of that, with the variety of names available, it means the percentage of babies with the most popular names has decreased. For example, the most popular baby boy name in 1990 was Michael, and it accounted for 3.03 percent of total males born that year. In 2023, the most popular baby name for boys was Liam. This moniker accounted for 1.13 percent of total males born that year. Olivia—the most popular girl name last year—accounts for even less than 1 percent of all babies born in 2023. With a higher population and a lower percentage, a name isn’t nearly as popular as it seems when compared to previous generations.

There are Small Perks to Having a ‘Common’ Name

Not only is it unlikely that your child will share a name with an overwhelming number of other kids in their class, but there are and have always been some small perks that go along with popular names. For example, it will be easier for others to pronounce and spell. They likely won’t run into many issues with teachers or coworkers mispronouncing their name in the future. They can save their energy on correcting their peers and authority figures, which can be intimidating.

Plus, there’s always the perk of finding their name on the theme park key chains. While this may seem like small potatoes, the kids who could never find their names will always remain envious.

There’s a Reason the Name is Popular

When it comes to things that are popular—music, home decor, or even travel destinations—it’s a good reminder that those things are popular for a reason. The same goes for baby names. The popular names are highly chosen because they’re great names (not to say the less common choices aren’t as well!). A lot of the time, the popular names tend to have a long history or hold a lovely meaning that any parent would want their child to embody. So there are certain names that, even if currently “trendy,” will always have their appeal.

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Take, for example, the name Henry, which was the eighth most popular name for boys in 2023. This name dates all the way back to 8th century Germany. It has a long history in medieval England and has the meaning of “house ruler.” It’s no wonder so many parents are drawn to this name! It’s been steadily popular for decades, and we don’t anticipate that changing any time soon.

Even names without extensive histories, such as Luna, have an undeniable appeal. The 10th most popular name for girls in 2023, it didn’t make the top 1,000 from 1922 to 2003 but has since made a noteworthy comeback. On the trendier side, parents tend to love the charming meaning of “moon” and its ties to nature. All this to say, if you’re contemplating choosing a popular name for your little one, we understand the allure.

You Won’t Regret Choosing a Name You Love

Above and beyond any other pro-popular name point is that parents should choose a name they love. Whether it’s in the top 10 or has never seen the light of the SSA list, the best name is one that parents choose specifically for their little one. Deciding how to choose the perfect baby name is tough enough, we shouldn’t have to forgo our favorite name for fear of others having it.

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