Kal-El, Bronx Mowgli and Pilot Inspektor.
Do you recognize these names?
They are all names that celebrities have chosen for their baby boys in recent years.
Where did this trend of unique, stand-out names come from and when did it become so popular? And how will you decide what to name your little bundle of joy?
Pregnancy is an exciting time during which you’ll have to make lots of difficult decisions. Should you find out the sex?
Should you do an amniocentesis? Should you go for a natural birth or an epidural? But choosing a name for your baby might be one of the hardest, one of the most important, and certainly one of the most fun decisions you’ll ever have to make.
So how do expectant parents go about choosing baby names for boys?
The answer to this question has changed a lot over time.
Baby Names for Boys – a bit of history
In the past, there were only a handful of popular baby names for boys and girls. Most parents in the 1800s and even up until the mid-1900s preferred to stick with classic baby names for boys, like Henry, George, and Charles, or biblical names like Samuel, Joseph and David.
Although many of the names that were listed in the top ten baby names for boys in the 1880s, like William and Jacob, are still on the top ten list today, the frequency of babies given these names has decreased dramatically.
While in the 1880s the top ten baby names for boys were chosen 40% of the time, today, out of the 325 million baby names recorded by the Social Security Administration between 1880 and 2007, children are given names on the top ten list only about 10% of the time.
Why is this?
Over time, society has moved from holding fast to traditions and “classic” names to the desire of individuals to express themselves and their unique sense of style – in other words, to differentiate themselves (in this case, by way of their offspring’s names).
After World War II, during the baby boom, more unusual names began to become more common. But the biggest change to trends in baby names for boys came in the 1990s.
What about today?
Today, parents tend to choose more creative baby names for boys. They want their children to stand out as individuals.
In fact, there is hardly a “curve” anymore when it comes to baby names for boys – there’s more of a straight line – because parents are practically competing with one another for the most creative names.
The trend is toward creating a unique image and using baby naming as an opportunity for freedom of expression.
According to W. Keith Campbell, who co-authored a San Diego State University study on the subject of baby name trends, the change toward choosing a unique baby names seems to have happened at the same time that Americans began to embrace more individualistic traits, such as self-esteem and assertiveness.
The most interesting change in baby-naming trends has been this:
While parents traditionally gave boys more conservative names than girls (31% compared to 18% of girls in 1900 and 30% compared to 18% of girls in 1957), that has ceased to be the case.
In 2014, 8% of boys and 7.7% of girls were given names from the top ten.
What this means is that while the name Jacob (a classic) was the most popular baby name for boys between the years 1999 and 2012, only 10% of baby boys were being named Jacob in 2012. Even though Jacob was technically the most popular name for boys, you’d have to search six classrooms in any given school before you could find one boy named Jacob!
While in 1949 Humphrey Bogart named his son Stephen and in 1961 Clark Gable named his son John, contrast that with modern actors Nicholas Cage, who named his son Kal-El (Superman’s birth name) in 2005, Ashlee Simpson, who named her son Bronx Mowgli in 2008 and Jason Lee, who named his son Pilot Inspektor in 2012. Clearly the trend has shifted not only among the general population but celebrities as well.
Whether society is following the lead of today’s celebrities or whether celebrities are just following society’s trend is unclear, but the fact remains that today’s parents are much less likely to name their sons Christopher and much more likely to name them Kristofer – or some other baby name for boys that we haven’t even dreamed of yet.
So go ahead, choose a name for your little one.
Classic or creative, timeless or trendy, as long as you love it, you can’t go wrong. We have compiled also a collection of cute baby girl names for 2016.