There’s a fine art to choosing a baby name.
Sure you can take inspiration from the most popular list (Olivia and Amelia reign supreme for girls and Oliver, Harry and George dominating the boys name charts). But, increasingly parents are looking to avoid being one of five Lilys on the pre-school register by opting for a moniker that stands out from the baby naming crowd.
Trouble is, new research has revealed this is becoming more and more difficult.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh say uncovering a unique name for your little one is becoming much harder.
Scientists analysed the names of 22 million people born between 1838 and 2016 (imagine how long that must have taken?!).
Unsurprisingly they found that trends in are linked to historical events, celebrities and those in the public eye and our favourite TV programmes (welcome to the world baby Daenarys!)
While global communication and rising immigration have increased parents-to-be’s exposure to alternative names, the Internet and media access have meant these have become common just as quickly.
And thus uncovering a unique gem of a name has become a little more tricky.
Commenting on the findings Stephen J Bush, from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, said: “Collectively, shifting patterns of name choice provide a fascinating insight into changes in societal values, personal tastes, and ethnic and cultural diversity from the Victorian era to the present day.
“The speed with which modern name choices fall in and out of favour reflects their increased exposure and people’s ongoing desire for distinctiveness.”
ChannelMum.com baby names expert SJ Ljungstrom said: “As UK culture broadens and becomes more global, there are more names than ever to choose from. The latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics show over 63,000 unique baby names were registered last year. But as more parents than ever before try to choose a unique name, the numbers of true one-off monikers are falling.”
So how do parents find a name that’s truly unique?
Check out the competition
SJ Ljungstrom recommends visiting http://names.darkgreener.com which shows a name’s popularity over the last ten years.
“Some names are shown as zero ranked which means fewer than three babies were given that name in any year, which means you’re highly unlikely to meet another child with the same name in the playground,” she says.
Many naming trends start in the US, says SJ. “Check out babynamewizard.com/voyager which captures the up and coming name trends – so you know which names to avoid before they cross to the UK.”
Make up your own name
“Popular ways to create your own name include blending syllables from the parents’ names or family members,” SJ advises. “The trend took off in the UK when Katie Price and Peter Andre’s daughter Princess Tiaamii was named after Peter’s mum Thea and Katy’s mum Amy. However, it’s not a style which suits everyone.”
Steer clear of popular culture
And avoid choosing a name from a favourite TV show, film or book. “No matter how obscure the character, others will have the same idea and instead of having a unique name, you may find your choice in the top 100 names for that year,” SJ warns. “Plus, these name choices also tend to date very fast.”
SJ suggests choosing a name nearing the bottom of the popularity cycle. “Know many Beryl’s, Sues, Pauls or Brenda’s? Probably not,” she says. “If you want a name which stands out but is still well-known, this is a smart option – and it will come back into fashion eventually.”
Pick something personal
“The city where you first met your partner like Oxford or holidayed like Hudson for New York or a name associated with your favourite colour like Sage or Indigo,” SJ says.
Try using letters from your favourite popular name to inspire other more unique choices. “One of my most popular baby names list on YouTube is daring alternatives to popular baby names,” SJ says. “So use sounds and letters to inspire you; so for example James could become Amos. If you love Olivia; why not choose Verity?”
Opt for a theme
“Most people use A-Z baby name books or lists; but during a baby name search it’s important to spend most time finding the theme you love – it could be bohemian girl names, vintage boy names, or one syllable names to suit your last name,” SJ advises. “Then you can discover more unique and daring names you may not have come across like dreamy Fable, Vintage Gilbert or short and sweet Seth.”
Research your family history
To unleash some old-fashioned gems. “One of Megan Markle’s ancestors was named Wisdom and doing some digging into your own family tree can see you branch out with a truly unique name which will also carry meaning for your family,” SJ says.
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