From John to Buddy Bear Maurice, and everything in between.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released the latest figures on baby names in England and Wales – and, predominately, it’s business as usual.
Oliver was again declared the most popular boy’s name, pipping perennial favourites George and Harry, while Olivia beat out Amelia and Ava as the most popular option for girls. Isla, Mia and Noah were also in the mix.
Here’s a few considerations for first time baby-namers, from what is wise to what is legal…
1. How common is your chosen name?
For many parents, the perfect name is recognisable but individual, striking enough to have a sense of identity, but no so much as to attract unwanted attention. Unfortunately, the balance changes year-on-year, and what’s quirky today might be par for the course by the time your kid starts school.
Some names are so popular they seem to defy fashion – Oliver has been top for the last six-years, and tomorrow’s school teacher may need a numerical system to keep track.
At the other end of the scale, there are names you just know won’t be troubling top ten lists. In 2007 Katie Price and Peter Andre called their daughter ‘Princess Tiaamii Crystal Esther Andre’.
2. What are the likely nicknames?
Your child will be given a nickname at some stage – by relatives, school friends, or school enemies – and abbreviations are part and parcel of your choice. Don’t opt for Elizabeth under the assumption she’ll be Lizzie, because you might just as well end up with Beth, Liz, Eliza, Lizzo, Libby, Betsy or Bessi.
3. Think about the initials
Alice Sylvia Saunders. Samuel Oliver Baldwin. Charles Robert Antonio Parker. The playground will notice, and it will be your fault.
4. Consider the middle name
Middles names occupy a strange grey area in the naming process. Sometimes packed with ancestry, sometimes discarded altogether, they can also be a sort of ‘first reserve’ – an option for children to take up if their given name doesn’t quite click.
Sean Connery’s first name is Thomas, Rupert Murdoch’s is Keith, while Bruce Willis was given the first name Walter. And I think we can all agree the world would be a lesser place if Ronald Fenty and Monica Braithwaite had simply named their daughter Robyn, rather than Robyn Rihanna.
5. There are pop culture implications
Children called Eileen will told to “come on”, girls called Caroline will be serenaded with Neil Diamond, and Laylas will be subject to that Eric Clapton song for years to come.
Consider the connections others might make – even if those connections are wrong. Boys named Louis or Archie in 2018 or 2019 may be widely imbued with royal inspiration.
6. Baby names need to last
Cutesy names might fit well on cutesy babies, but Bear, River and Rainbow may seem less suitable when they’re chairing business meetings in their Forties.
Pop culture names may also become dated. In 2019 the name Daenerys might seem on trend, but when Game of Thrones has faded from the public consciousness it will just become difficult to spell, and say.
7. Choose something legal
The UK Deed Poll Service rejects names that include numbers and punctuation, or are deemed to promote criminal activities, and in 2016 a UK mother was banned from calling her child Cyanide.
In New Zealand a widely-publicised court battle upheld an order banning the baby name ‘4real’, while other rejected application included Lucifer with a single full stop. In 2008, the same court ordered the renaming of a nine-year-old-girl christened ‘Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii’, on the grounds that it “makes a fool of the child.”
Honestly, if there’s question over a name’s legality, you probably shouldn’t be considering it in the first place.
8. Remember it’s not about you
Your child will carry their name with them for the rest of their lives, so put ego aside and remember that it’s their future opinion that counts.