Coming up with the perfect baby name can rank as one of the most stressful aspects of new parenthood. You may have had a baby name you've loved since you were 12, only for your spouse to instantly nix it. Maybe your cousin just had a baby and nabbed your fave girl name, or a name you've always loved is suddenly trending at Number 1, and you were hoping to be unique.
There's a lot of thought that goes into picking a name that's going to stick with your baby for the rest of their lives, reflective of your own family's individuality, and your child's.
Baby name trends often follow pop culture, says Jennifer Moss, founder and CEO of Babynames.com, and author of The Baby Names Workbook. Which means the celeb of the week will have huge influence on next month's top baby name. Characters in film and TV influence trends - look at all the babies named after Game of Thrones characters.
"Whereas 50 years ago, it was more common that people would want to fit in and choose a common name. Now it’s more acceptable to stand out and be unique and different," says Moss, adding that trends are also flipping over quicker than they used to the popularity of baby name websites, and a movement toward more unique and obscure names.
We chatted with Moss to identify what trends are on the rise, what ones are on the way out, and which 25 baby names are likely to be among the most popular in 2020.
Aurelia is a beautiful, shimmering Latin name meaning Golden, and will likely be an increasingly popular choice for parents who love Amelia and Aria - both of which were hot names in 2017 - but don't want a name that's got a spot in the Top 10.
If you're a fan of the romantic Christmas comedy Love Actually, you'll remember that Aurelia was the Portugese love interest of Colin Firth's character. Aurelia was also the name of the mothers of Julius Caesar, Sylvia Plath and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
According to Nameberry, Aurelia has risen each year since re-entering the Top 1,000 list in 2012, after dropping in popularity for the previous 60 years. Aurelia was at the 577th spot on Baby Center in 2017, up 173 from the year before.
Bauer is one of those strong, sporty, masculine names that has staying power, and one you might be hearing more of soon.
A German name meaning "farmer" or "tiller of soil", Bauer was the last name of Kiefer Sutherland’s character Jack Bauer in the hit TV series 24. For Canadians, it may also bring to mind strength and athleticism, perhaps because of the Bauer brand of hockey equipment. So what better name for a little boy who's both strong and assertive, yet also sensitive and charismatic.
Surnames as first names for boys will continue to be popular in the coming years, according to Jennifer Moss. That means names like Tanner, Shepherd, Peyton, Wells and Bowen will likely also continue to be popular choices.
Bauer was at 3,112 spot on Baby Center in 2017, and 1,739 on Nameberry. We also like its alternate spellings - Bower or Bowers.
Rowan is a strong, beautiful unisex Irish name meaning Red, and has been steadily growing in popularity for girls ever since Brooke Shields named her daughter Rowan in 2003.
This lovely, lyrical name is also a common surname, and can be spelled Roan or Ruadh. And its roots aren’t just Irish: Rowan can also be an Arabic girls’ name meaning river in paradise. Rowan is spirited and spiritual - a born leader with a kind heart.
Rowan and other girls' names ending in -wan and -wen are expected to become increasingly popular in the next few years, says Jennifer Moss. In fact, the popularity of girls' names ending in -wan picked up in 2000 and continue to climb, according to Babynamespedia.com.
These names are soft and feminine, but not diminutive like names ending in -y, -ie or -ee, which have dropped in popularity.
In 2017, Rowan (for a girl) was ranked 227th on Baby Center, up a modest seven spots.
Tough “biker” names with an K or X in them are becoming increasingly popular, according to Jennifer Moss. Think Hendrix, Maverick, Stryker, Ryker and Dax. In this category of names we love Tukker - strong, tough, and steadily rising in popularity among parents looking for a unique twist on a more common surname-turned-first name.
Tucker, spelled the traditional way, is a common last name with Anglo-Saxon roots. For celebrities with the name Tucker, there’s actor and comedian Chris Tucker, and controversial bow tie-wearing pundit Tucker Carlson. But Tukker spelled with two Ts wasn’t on most people’s radar until recently, with the increasing popularity of pop duo Sofi Tukker.
So for parents looking for a strong, masculine first name that’s slightly edgy and definitely unique, Tukker hits all the marks.
In 2016, Tukker's popularity on BabyCenter was up a whopping 4,478 from the previous year. So expect to see more baby announcements with little Tukkers on them.
Wren is a light, beautiful name that brings to mind songbirds and summer meadows. Of course, a wren is a small bird known for its beautiful singing voiced. It's also derived from the Old English Wrenna or Wroenna.
Names derived from nature - like Wren - continue to be popular first name choices for parents of baby girls, according to Jennifer Moss. Kelly Clarkson named her daughter River Rose, Holly Madison's children are named Rainbow and Forest, and Christina Aguilera's daughter is Summer Rain. And there's also baby Lark from the hit Netflix comedy Life In Pieces.
Like many contemporary baby names, Wren is traditionally a last name. Perhaps most well known was British architect Christopher Wren, who famously rebuilt much of London after it was destroyed by fire in the 17th Century.
Wren as a first name is delicate, lyrical and poetic, and a beautiful choice for parents who love names derived from nature.
Wren ranked 537 on BabyCenter in 2017, up 20 from the previous year. It hit 524 the same year on Nameberry - entering the Top 1,000 for the first time ever - and continues to rise.
"Posh" English names are expected to continue in popularity, according to Jennifer Moss, and in this category we love the name Caspian, which is attracting a lot of attention among parents looking for an aristocratic name that's still not on everyone's radar.
Caspian is a sea, a prince from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books, and a beautiful song, a breed of horse, and a language.
As a name, Caspian is still flying relatively under the radar, first appearing on the charts in 2006, according to babynamescience.com. In the U.S. it’s enjoying some moderate popularity in California and Texas, specifically, and is predicted to be on the up-and-up.
In 2017, Caspian ranked at 986 on Baby Center, up 254 from the previous year. Nameberry users ranked it even higher, at 78th in 2017.
Other aristocratic names we love include Alistair, Ellis, Casper, Sterling and Ansley.
Girls' names derived from the masculine George are on the up-and-up, according to Jennifer Moss.
The popularity of Georgia May Jagger – stunning British model and child to legends Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall – certainly hasn’t hurt the popularity of Georg- names for little girls. There’s also Georgie, Georgiana and our fave, Georgina.
Georgina is regal and stately. Originally of Greek origin, Georgina has historically been popular in the United Kingdom, where it continues to be a top choice for little girls – and parents in North America are starting to take notice.
Literature fans might know that Georgina is the name of Mr. Darcy's sister in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Australian actress Georgina Haig played Henrietta Bishop in the TV series Fringe. And Georgina Grenville is a famous South African model.
Georgina was ranked 1,374 on Baby Center in 2017, up 7 spots from the previous year. In England, it's ranked at 118th.
Jasper has been moving up the ranks as a boy's name, part of the growing popularity of J names for baby boys. In fact, first names starting with J are predicted to replace the currently trendy O names, like Owen and Oliver.
Jasper is slightly posh, slightly masculine, slightly hip, and very unique, having grown in popularity since its appearance as a character in the Twilight series.
It's of Persian descent, meaning "bringer of treasure", and is known as one of the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. We also like its German versions of Casper or Caspar. Of course, Canadians know it as a beautiful town in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, giving it a hip-outdoorsy vibe.
Jasper ranked 197 on Baby Center in 2017, up 10 spots from the previous year. It sits at #33 on Babynames.com charts.
Baby girl names starting with A are all the rage right now, and Aoife could be the next big thing. Aoife (Eef-uh) may not be well known in North America, but across the pond, it's not an uncommon moniker for little girls, especially in Ireland where it means "beauty" and "radiance."
According to ancient Irish legends, Aoife was the offspring of several different heroines, and was storied to be a fierce warrior, as well - a bonus for parents looking to give their little girl a unique and lyrical name that also denotes strength and power.
It will likely be popular among parents who love the names Ava or Eva, but are looking for something more unique.
Nameberry ranked Aoife at in the U.S. for 2017, although it was significantly more popular in the U.K. and Ireland, where it sits at 186th and 15th respectively.
Preppy names are popular for parents of little boys right now, and the trend is expected to stick around for some time. Names ending in –s, in particular, continue to get attention, like Brooks, Oakes and Briggs.
But watch for parents looking, instead, to names ending in -er, as a way to bend the trend. There's Chester, Abner, Grover and, our favourite, Wilder.
Wilder is one of those popular first names derived from a surname. Famous Wilders include actor Gene Wilder, and Little House on the Praire writer Laura Ingalls Wilder.
As a first name, Wilder is slightly literary, slightly outdoorsy and adventurous, and totally unique. It can also be used for little girls.
Wilder for boys hit Nameberry's top 1,000 list for the first time in 2015, a few years after Goldie Hawn's son Oliver chose the hip name for his little boy. In 2016, Nameberry ranked Wilder as one of the Top 10 fastest rising boy's names, at 103rd.
Emme is a playful, feminine German name meaning "whole" or "universal", and one you'll likely be hearing more lately as the Em- trend continues, and parents look for alternatives to the currently popular names of Emma, Emily and Amelia.
This is largely how baby name trends happen, says Jennifer Hall. "Madison just hit the charts like crazy and everyone was naming their little girl Madison," she said. "So someone wanted something similar so Addison popped up. And Emily became Emma." Now Emma will become... yep, you guessed it. Lovely Emme.
Emme is usually pronounced EH-mee, and may also be a pet name for the equally beautiful Emmeline.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony named their daughter Emme. This is also the professional name of full-figured model and body image advocate Melissa Aronson.
This beautiful name currently ranked 809th on Nameberry, and 984 on Baby Center, and rising fast.
Nerds are the new cool, and a new generation of hip parents who are unapologetic in their love of sci-fi, fantasy and mythology are giving their babies some pretty amazing names - like Loki.
Loki, pronounced LOH-kee, is cool unisex name derived from Norse mythology - Loki being a mischievous and gender-bending trickster god who changes forms. It’s also thought to be related to the Norse word luka (another cool boy’s name choice), meaning “shut”.
Comic book might also know that Loki Laufeyson is a Marvel character, and brother of Thor. English Tom Hiddleston plays Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies.
Loki as a boy's name was ranked at 1,780 on Baby Center in 2017, up 514 spots from the previous year. Nameberry had it at 453rd spot among U.K. parents, and 62nd in Sweden.
This cool name is expected to grow in popularity as hip, mythological unisex names pick up momentum.
Many names suddenly rise in popularity because of pop culture, and sci-fi, fantasy and girl-power superhero movies are hot right now. Which is why you're seeing a surge in names like Arya and Khaleesi - characters from Game of Thrones.
Parents love naming their daughters after strong, butt-kicking women - fictional or otherwise. And with the popularity of superhero movies, we expect Mera (MEE-ra) - a character in DC's Justice League, and wife to Aquaman - to rise in the charts. In the newest movie, Mera is played by Amber Heard.
Mera is a beautiful Arabic name meaning “princess.” It may also be derived from Mira, which has both Slavic and Hindu roots – the Slavic name meaning “world” or “peace”, and the Hindu name meaning “sea” or “ocean”.
Thackeray is the type of literary boy's name that's hugely popular among parents looking for a posh or English name with a bit of culture to it.
Traditionally a surname, it can also be spelled Thackerry, Thackery and Thackary. It has English roots, meaning "place with Thatching”. It’s also the name of British novelist William Thackeray, who wrote Vanity Fair.
Literary boy names have been popular among celebrities. Russell Crowe named his son Tennyson (as in writer Alfred Tennyson), model Niki Taylor named her son Hunter (think gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson), and Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake named their son Silas (title character of George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner). And multiple celebs named their sons Homer, including Richard Gere, Anne Heche and Bill Murray.
Thackeray is also a unique choice for parents who like the sound of more traditionally popular Zachary, but want to stand out from the crowd.
Evangeline is another beautiful, romantic, musical-sounding name with literary roots.
Most famously, Evangeline is the title of a famous narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, about an Acadian woman named Evangeline who goes off in search of her lost love, Gabriel.
Evangeline (Eva) was also a character in Uncle Tom's Cabin. But most of us probably know of the name because of Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly, who starred in the TV series Lost, and more recently, the Hobbit.
The meaning of Evangeline is as beautiful as the name itself - "like an angel" or "bearer of good news". Popular alternates include Evangelina and Evangelica, and of course, it can be shortened to “Eva”.
Evangeline has been surging in popularity since about 2002. In 2017, it ranked at 307 on Baby Center, and 240th on Nameberry. It's currently 33rd on Babynames.com charts.
Adaline is among a growing number of names like Adalynn and Adelyn that have seen a huge surge thanks to the popularity of Ada, and "old lady" names in general. Adaline in particular is on an upward trend due to the film The Age of Adaline, starring Blake Lively.
“Old lady” names have seen a comeback in part, says Jennifer Moss, because parents are increasingly looking for ways to name their children after grandparents and great-grandparents, or simply to infuse some personal family history into their children’s identities.
There's, of course, also the influence of the hugely popular historical dramas like Downton Abbey, which features characters with beautiful old-fashioned names like Cora, Edith and Sybil.
Adaline has both French and German roots, meaning “noble”, and is seeing a burst in popularity that’s likely to continue to pick up in the next few years.
It rocketed up to 364 in 2015, the first time cracking the top 1,000 since 1924, according to Nameberry. In 2016, it had moved up to 106th spot.
Brahm is another simple, strong, masculine boy's name that will continue to surge up the ranks, thanks in part to the popularity of the fantasy genre. Bram - spelled without the "h" - being a lead character in Game of Thrones, and of course, the author of the Gothic novel Dracula (Abraham "Bram" Stoker).
Because the more traditional spelling of Bram is currently popular, expect variations of the name, like Brahm and Brahms, to become more common in the next few years.
Brahm has Dutch, German and Jewish roots with multiple meanings: it can mean “father of a mighty nation,” it can describe someone living near a thicket, or it can be a reduced form of the name Abraham. Most famously, Joannes Brahms was a 19th Century German composer.
This strong and stately name is expected to see a surge in popularity. In 2016, Brahm was sitting steady at 4,667th spot on Baby Center, up 697 spots from the previous year. Surprisingly (or perhaps not, since Brahm has Dutch roots), the name is in 11th spot in the Netherlands.
This stunning floral name for little girls is moving up the ranks thanks to the growing popularity of double L names like Calliope, Camilla and Elle, says Jennifer Moss. It might seem a little difficult to say, but its uniqueness is bound to make your little girl the only one of the playground with such an original names
Amaryllis comes from the Greek, meaning "to sparkle". Amaryllis is also the heroine in a Virgil poem called Ecologues, which inspired the naming of the Amaryllis flower.
As a flower, the amaryllis is a colourful and vibrant show stopper. But as a name, it’s sparkling and musical, with all the weight and beauty of four-syllable names. It’s also a popular choice for parents who love Isabella, but want to steer clear of names sitting steady on Top 10 lists.
Amaryllis was ranked 455th on Nameberry's 2017 list, and 2,098 on Baby Center, where it had risen a whopping 2,510 spots from the previous year.
Killian is derived from a Gaeilic surname, and is increasingly popular among parents of baby boys looking for a unique baby name that is pronounced exactly how you would expect.
The name has been traditionally spelled Cillian - as in actor Irish Cillian Murphy - but there's often ambiguity over how to pronounce the C, making Killian a perfect alternative for North American parents.
Gaelic names in general are seeing a surge in popularity, in part because they tend to be less common in North America, they often an ethereal air, and come with some unique spellings.
This hip and up-and-coming name – which can be used for girls or boys – was ranked 562nd on Nameberry for 2017 (although 88th for Irish users), and 213rd on Baby Center - up 35 spots from the previous year. Expect to see more of this unique Irish name in the future.
This beautiful Scandinavian name meaning "noble woman" is on the upswing thanks to a surge in mythological names - which are becoming increasingly popular thanks to shows like Game Of Thrones, which offers a plethora of inspiration for new name.
Freyja is the Nordic spelling of the slightly more common "Freya", the Norse Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Legend has it that when Freyja cries, her tears are golden.
The name Freya spelled without the “j” has enjoyed immense popularity throughout much of Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom - reaching 21st spot in 2015. While Freyja is popular in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Now, this lovely, feminine name is quickly gaining momentum in North America.
Freyja - spelled the Nordic way - was ranked at 842 on Baby Center in 2017, up an impressive 324 spots from the previous year. In Iceland, it sits at 11th spot.
Aryn is another beautiful and refined unisex name you can expect to see more frequently thanks again to the popularity of the fantasy genre. Aryn will likely be a popular choice for parents of little girls who love the name Aria - one of the most popular name in 2017 thanks to Arya Stark in Game of Thrones - but want to buck the trend.
Aryn for girls is derived from the Gaelic Érinn or Erin – and is a bold and whimsical choice for a little girl who’s both feminine, and an unapologetic tomboy. It’s also a beautiful alternative to currently popular Ar- names like Arianna. And while it sounds like Erin or Aaron, this unique spelling makes it more appealing to parents looking to add some distinction to their little girl’s name.
Aryn as a girl’s name was at 2,622nd spot on Baby Center in 2017, up a respectable 752 spots from the previous year. Alternate spellings for this beautiful name include Aeryn and Arynn.
Everything cool and unique about strong, hip, under-the-radar boy's names can be summed up in this Irish surname-turned-first name.
Phelan, which is pronounced FAY-lan, means "wolf" or "beauty", and is often spelled Faolan in Ireland. It's got an effortlessly cool appeal to it without sounding like it's trying too hard. Your little boy will be the strongest sounding one in the bunch but most likely will have the mushiest heart.
Sci-fi fans might also love this name for its connection to the cult classic TV series Battlestar Galactica, where a character in the second season was named Phelan.
It is currently ranked at 7,416 on Baby Center, but that's up a whopping 715 spots from the previous year. So expect to see a lot more cool little Phelans running around the playground in the years to come.
Flower names are enjoying a place in the spotlight, says Jennifer Hall, and Dahlia is likely to be one of the more beautiful floral names we begin hearing more of in the coming years.
This elegant and feminine moniker owes its roots to Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, for whom the flower Dahlia named. Dahlia is one of the more striking flowers out there, and that translates perfectly into a beautiful name for a sweet yet sophisticated little girl. In the U.K., it’s often pronounced DAY-lee-a, but in North America, parents tend to opt for DAH-lee-a.
Celebrities have definitely had a hand in boosting the popularity of botanical names for little girls. Singer Pink named her daughter Willow, Rachel Wilson and Hayden Christensen named their daughter Briar Rose, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has daughters Poppy, Daisy and Petal. Of course there's Johnny Depp's daughter Lily-Rose, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck's daughter Violet. And we haven't forgotten Beyonce and Jay Z's little girl, Blue Ivy.
Dahlia was ranked 437nd on Baby Center in 2017.
Gulliver is one of those hip baby boy names that checks a lot of boxes: It's unique, aristocratic, and has a hint of the literary (think Gulliver's Travels). It also has a similar ring to Oliver, which is currently enjoying immense popularity - meaning it will soon drop out of favour, giving names like Gulliver a chance to swoop into their place.
Gulliver is an Irish name meaning "glutton." It may not be the most poetic meaning, but it began growing in popularity among the hipster crowd after Gary Oldman used the name for his son. Homeland's Damian Lewis also has a son named Gulliver.
Gu- boy’s names are beginning to come into trend lately, including names like Gus and Gunnar, which are masculine yet slightly unconventional. And for many parents, Gulliver fits the bill.
This cool, up-and-coming name currently sits at 8,131rd spot on Baby Center, with lots of room to climb.
This stunning Hebrew name meaning "fiery" and "ardent" is one of the most-searched names on Nameberry, and is inching toward cracking the Top 1,000 in the U.S., and for good reason. Seraphina is both feminine and noble, with the boldness that comes with four-syllable girls’ names, and the poetic lyricism of a flower or jewel.
This beautiful name was thrust into the spotlight when Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck named their second daughter Seraphina, a perfect sibling name to accompany big sister Violet. While sounding like the names Sarah, it's spelling is unique and what makes it such a winner.
Seraphina, along with its variation Serafina, has much in common with current top names like Sophia, Isabella and Olivia, and offers a unique, stylish and timeless alternative for parents looking to break the trend.
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