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BabyCenter's Hottest Baby Names of 2011 Announced

By Katie |

Prior to this past Tuesday when we found out our upcoming addition is a boy(!) we had spent countless hours talking about baby names. Especially girl names. For whatever reason, we’ve been in agreement on a boy name for as long as we’ve discussed the possibility of children, but girl names have been the opposite. It turns out that my husband and I have very different tastes when it comes to baby names for little girls. You see, I have good taste and his is lousy.

We finally found one we both liked and when we told my MIL she went on a 5 minute rant about how awful the name was. She twice mentioned that no child with that name would be allowed over for dinner at her house. I think she was kidding on some level, but I really don’t know. The name was Alice by the way. Not something horrific or off the wall. I mean, my grandma didn’t like it either, but at least her response was a polite “blech.”

(Yes, we are still telling our families our baby names. I know this is insanity, but I would much rather hear the 5 minute rant before the baby is here than when I am recovering from giving birth. I’m not saying that we really care what our family thinks, but we may as well get the ugly out of the way now.)

In all of this naming craziness we have continuously gone back to the baby name popularity lists. And one of the things I love about BabyCenter’s list is that they combine the names that are the same but with different spellings. Like Madeline/Madalyn and Sophia/Sofia that look less popular than they are because there are two of them on every other list and when their powers are combined, they are way more popular.

The top 10 hottest baby names of 2011 are as follows:

1. Sophia
2. Emma
3. Isabella
4. Olivia
5. Ava
6. Lily
7. Chloe
8. Madison
9. Emily
10. Abigail

1. Aiden
2. Jackson
3. Mason
4. Liam
5. Jacob
6. Jayden
7. Ethan
8. Noah
9. Lucas
10. Logan

BabyCenter’s full list of the top 100 boys’ and girls’ names can be found here.

For us popularity has been a huge factor in our decision. I grew up with such an incredibly common name that I was known by my first name and my last initial for virtually my entire childhood. In fact, in my current graduate program of 94 people, there are 3 other Katies besides me. I really want to spare my child that experience without giving them a weird name.

So naturally our prospective name made a huge jump in popularity this year. It’s creeping dangerously close to being truly popular and it’s given me pause. And it looks like it’s only going to keep getting more popular. The popularity doesn’t change how much we love the name, but it definitely makes me weary. I guess it’s a good thing we still have plenty of time to pour over these lists and make up our minds for good.

How about you- did popularity have an impact on your baby name choices?

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About Katie



Katie is a former teacher, part-time PT, wife, and first-time mother to the baby with the best ears on the Internet. You can find more of her grammatically questionable writing at her blog, Overflowing Brain. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie's latest posts →

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15 thoughts on “BabyCenter's Hottest Baby Names of 2011 Announced

  1. Amanda K says:

    I was one of 4 Amanda’s just in my grade and that was in a VERY tiny school. (I graduated with 74.) Popularity was extremely important to my husband and me, which stunk since we liked a lot of the popular names. It’s hard to find the balance between crazy popular and totally off the wall/no one will ever know how to spell it.

    Good luck! And BTW, I think Alice is really cute!

  2. Krista says:

    Popularity (or lack thereof) was one of my criteria in naming as well. But I have a really odd name (the full version) and I hated always having to pronounce and spell it – hence the reason it’s shortened!
    So my criteria were: normal, but preferably not in the top 100. My first son is Cory which I like (although everyone tries to put an e before the y) and then we could NOT agree on another name. So we ended up with Noah. It was like #12 when we chose it and now it’s rising even more in popularity. I’m not so happy about that, but he’s almost 2 so hopefully there won’t be a ton of them in his class.
    We have twin girls coming in the spring and we’ve had one girl name picked out all along, but now we have to come up with a second one! And they have to play nicely with each other. Plus, we’ve started a tradition that all middle names start with E and there aren’t as many E names left! Oy!

  3. soukii says:

    Selecting a name for each of my 3 children was so special to me. I knew I didn’t want common names because my name was moderately popular growing up (3 in my hs graduating class) & my dh’s was so popular just among his group of friends there were 3 Scotts that his friends from school still call him by his silly nickname- Shoe! Although, its funny that he didn’t care so much about popularity as I did. With all 3 kids I poured over baby naming websites & books to make sure they weren’t popular, but not obscure either. When we finally decided we didn’t tell ANYONE until they were born. My rationale was the oosite

  4. soukii says:

    Oops… hit the button too soon! Anyways, I didn’t tell them because I figure if they hated the name & the first time they heard it they were looking @ the cute baby they wouldn’t tell me they didn’t like it because they’d be too obssessed with how cute the baby was- & it worked all 3 times!! No one ever said anything about Macy, Owen, or Easton’s names because they were too busy falling in love with the kids!

  5. sarahh says:

    Nope, popularity was not a factor. We had names picked out for both a boy and a girl long before we even started trying. Both of them had special meaning to us, and really I think that’s the only real reason to choose a name. “Sarah” was beyond popular in 1980, but my parents picked it and my middle name because that was my great-great-grandmother’s name and I’m so glad they did. I was not scarred for life, we just all used either nicknames or last names for sports and things when there were 2…or 3… or 4 Sarah’s and Sara’s on a team or in a class. Not the end of the world. :)

  6. Suzanne says:

    My name isn’t overly popular (I’m not Susan, but Suzanne), yet there were three of us in my grade throughout school. It probably explains why I always used Suzie, on of the others Sue and the third always went by Suzanne. (btw, now, I prefer Suzanne).

    I really had no say in my older son’s name. My husband said “If it’s a boy, this is the name.” He so rarely is that vehement about anything, so I went with it, even though the name didn’t thrill me. However, at 15, I have to say, my oldest’s name fits him to a T.

    My younger son, I had an Irish baby name book (we’re both mostly Irish) and we ended up with six boy’s names. The BabyCenter list was used, because I was scratching off anything in the top 100. Aiden wasn’t in that list and was probably my top choice. Meanwhile, we waited until he was born, said he looked like the name we ultimately went with-then found that it was number 33 on the list. Oops. (and the following year, Aiden ended up being number 3!)

    Funny thing is, my older son’s Kindergarten class had FIVE boys with his baby brother’s name, and yet, other than boy scouts, he has not been in an activity or class with another boy sharing the name.

    When my sister named her second son nine years ago, Liam was not a common name-and it’s in the top ten now. When she told family before he was born, she got reactions along the lines of your grandmother’s. My opinion was that it doesn’t matter whether I like it, I got to name my babies already and in a year? I won’t be able to picture him as anything but Liam. His name is truly perfect for him.

    The point of all of this is that you should choose what you like. Sometimes, others don’t like it, but it’s not their choice-it’s yours. Have three or four names at the ready, wait until he arrives and then decide which one fits. Other times, what looks like it is going to be overly popular name doesn’t pan out.

    (and there’s always the runner-up middle name to fall back on, something I find in my job that many people do)

  7. Sue G says:

    I think my new goal in life is to one day meet your mother in law. I would love to be in the same room as she is, especially during one of her tirades. She seems to miss that one of the salient points of having this baby is to finally have something to withhold, manipulate, punish, etc HER with instead of the other way around! In this scenario (baby, grandson), YOU are holding all the cards.

    Wish I could be there to tell her.

    I know the point of your blog entry today was about the baby’s name, not about your mother in law. But she continues to go so far over the top of hugely inappropriate and controlling mothers in law that I can’t help but be mesmerized by her audacity.

    Wow. That’s about all I can say. Wow.

  8. Julie {Angry Julie Monday} says:

    My son’s name was based on one of the bad kid’s on Super Nanny. It is VERY popular now. I think #12 on that list. We had it spelled a different way before he was born. It was even on the wall of our house. One of the guys at my work made fun of it…I changed the spelling…

    But for at least a year, people could not get used to the name. But seriously, he is totally a Caden.

    I have a friend who stole my baby name. Not that I would ever endure pregnancy again, but I’m in that group of not sharing baby names, because everyone judges.

  9. The Muskrat says:

    We looked at top names lists for 50 years to make sure we didn’t go with our kids’ generation’s “Michael” like I endured. So far, so good (they are 5, 3, and 1).

  10. Al_Pal says:

    A good friend endured the ‘always needed the last initial’ growing up, due to having a top-5 name for our decade. She didn’t want her kids to deal with that, but then her firstborn’s name became super popular! (Sophia–she’s 7, so maybe it’ll mostly be the younger kids’ classmates that share the name.)

    We don’t have kids, but if we do, we’ll probably use family names, which aren’t so popular. (Although, my name and two variants are in the top 100, plus two male versions, hmm.) My husband’s name doesn’t make the list, so that’s nice. :P
    (& yeah, we love our names enough to consider reusing them!) A lot of the top-100 names are very much not our style, so that’s easy. ;p

  11. Jackie says:

    We chose unique names for our 2 daughters… Our oldest is DeAndra Julia and our 6 week old is Jennavieve Daria… I wanted to stick with D & J initials so the girls can take after their father and I

  12. Terry says:

    Terry is my blogging name and my real name is not common around where I live. Popularity was a factor because I didn’t want my baby to be one of a hundred Jade, Mélanie, Mathieu, Simon, etc. My nephew has 3 Anakins in his preschool…and we didn’t want a weird name either.
    So we chose Maël that we find beautiful and we don’t know anyone with that name.
    My father-in-law told us that he would beat up at school with that name. It was the only negative comment we had about it. If Maël is like his dad, he won’t EVER get beat up. My boyfriend is 6’4″ ! :)

  13. Tammy M says:

    My son was named after my dad & my daughters name/nickname had been known since I was 4. Popularity had nothing to do with either. I’m pregnant now, & we are having a difficult time picking out the perfect name.

  14. Helen says:

    My naming requirements were:

    1. Flexibility. I have never liked my name and it can’t really be shortened, so I picked flexible names. For example, Natalie can be Tally, Nat and Leigh.

    2. The name had to be one my kid doesn’t have to live up to, or live down. It should be able to take them through life without embarrassment.

    3. Not too popular, although the name I picked for my eldest two are top ten in America in 2010, but didn’t rank top 50 in the years they were born, and still don’t in Australia. Oh well!

  15. Jessica says:

    My sons are Brendan Michael and Zachary Cole. We really haven’t run into too many kids in their classes with the same name, however, Brendan often gets called Brandon, so I wish I took that into consideration 13 years ago!

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