as it turns out, when it comes to welcoming your special bundle of joy into the world, your family and your community.
When you look at popular baby names over the years, you're not comparing apples to apples. It's more like Apples to Moxie Crimefighters - especially when you consider some of the truly unique monikers that celebrities' progeny are sporting these days.
Trendy titles aside, a spin through Social Security Administration records proves that it's the classic names that tend to have the most staying power.
in 1904, salt-of-the-earth names like John, William, James, Mary, Helen and Anna were the most popular.
Fifty years later, James, John and Mary still placed in the top tier, and were joined by the equally solid Michael, Robert, Linda, Deborah and Patricia.
Recently, biblical and anglophile names reigned supreme, thanks to Jacob, Joshua, Matthew, Emily, Emma and Madison.
Fifty years from now? It's anyone's guess.
"The names you like speak volumes about not only your hopes and dreams for your baby, but also about your own identity and sense of self..."
Choosing a baby name
"Selecting a baby's name can be both overwhelming and exciting, especially for first-time parents," says Matt Swanson, owner of finestationery.com, a premier Web site for quality birth announcements. "Parents typically take this responsibility very seriously, particularly because their newborn's name is such a personal decision."
Experts agree that the name you select for your new son or daughter says a lot about your upbringing, character and values -- as well as your vision for your child's future.
"The names you like speak volumes about not only your hopes and dreams for your baby, but also about your own identity and sense of self, your tastes and values, and your need for belonging or sense of adventure," says Linda Rosenkrantz, co-author with Pamela Redmond Satran of several baby-naming books, including "Cool Names for Babies" and "Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana."
"People who choose stylish names (Ava, Madeline, Jack, Owen) are looking for something with a bit of an edge but still in tune with the times, while those who opt for quirky names (Josephine, Ruby, Homer, Hugo) are often creative and have the ability to find beauty and charm in unexpected places," adds Rosenkrantz. "Those who like classic names like Laura and Andrew tend to be traditional in their attitudes and conscious of the past, while those who choose ethnic names are obviously proud of their heritage
and want to share it with their children."
In her book, "The Baby Name Wizard," Laura Wattenburg notes that in the 1950s, the top ten names for boys
and girls accounted for a quarter of all babies. Today, they account for less than a tenth -- illustrating just how much parents are willing to "step outside
the box" in coming up with truly inventive names for their children.
Baby names - everything old is new again
According to Wattenberg, some of the hottest "new" names today -- like Hannah, Abigail and
Caleb -- are actually the ones that sound the oldest. She sees Celtic-inspired names like Cameron, Aidan and Dylan remaining popular, as well as those from other
"linguistic sources" (Arabic, Greek, Italian, Russian and Swahili) as people continue to select from "a global smorgasbord of names." Using masculine-sounding surnames
for girls (Emerson -- nickname Emmy; Addison - Addie) is also on the rise.
As you start brainstorming name possibilities, the Internet can be an invaluable resource. Simply inserting the phrase "baby names" into a search engine reveals
a host of sites on which you can find the origin, gender and meaning of your top contenders within seconds. Narrow down your selections further by sounding the
names out loud (along with surname, potential middle names and siblings' names) to make sure they flow smoothly from every angle.
And yes, you will find
the perfect name for your perfect child. All it takes is a little time and a lot of love.