Choosing a baby’s name can be one of the hardest decisions a new parent has to make, and most prospective parents spend ages trawling through lists of baby name ideas. Some have their baby names chosen before the baby is born, while others waiting until after the birth. In our case my husband refused to discuss options, so straight after our son was born I had my list out (well, I only had 2 names I liked that went with our surname).
Parents’ choices of baby names can be polarising as well. Trends in baby names come and go, with traditional ‘grandparent’ names becoming popular again. But also more unusual, creative names more common as people try to differentiate and avoid their child growing up with the same name as multiple children in their class at school.
I have to admit I’m really picky about names, and there’s not many of the more creatives ones I’m a fan of. But if you’re picky like me, and don’t like a lot of the ‘misspelt’, ‘made up’ names, then my tip is just to keep quiet when you hear a new baby’s name. Because unless you’re the parent, then it’s none of your business.
If you’re looking for baby name ideas, then try some of these options set out by category.
Baby name ideas by category type
Mainly traditional names, but some of the more unusual names are becoming more popular.
Joseph, Jacob, Noah, Samuel, Benjamin, Elijah, Ethan, Adam, Aaron, Ezra, James, Matthew, Matteo, Felix, Silas, Jude, Asher, Tobias, Caleb, Bartholomew, Levi, Nathaniel, Thomas, Zachary, Gabriel, Jonah, Isaac
Elizabeth, Mary, Abigail, Leah, Hannah, Eliza, Phoebe, Chloe, Eve, Lilith, Lydia, Delilah, Esther, Julia, Anna,
Made famous over the years by fashion houses and designers, these are usually more unusual, often with European influences.
Coco, Betsey, Diane, Donatella, Sonia, Stella, Vivienne, Giselle, Carolina, Vera, Anais, Celine, Elle, Harper, Orla,
Calvin, Alexander, Christian, Gianni, Issey, Hugo, Julien, Marc, Oscar, Pierre, Ralph, Tommy, Yves, Valentino, Calvin,
Film and Disney inspired names
Over the years there’s been many names influenced by films. In the past by Disney princesses or actresses, and nowadays we see more strong women character names becoming popular.
Aurora, Minnie, Ariel, Jasmine, Elsa, Belle, Esmerelda, Tiana, Merida, Ursula, Adelaide, Adella, Andrina, Imelda, Jessie, Tiffany, Maria, Liesl, Rosalia, Clemenza, Frances, Jeanie, Minerva, Hermione, Ginny, Primrose, Leia, Briony, Cecilia, Cecile, Elle, Juno, Lena, Yolanda, Natalie, Lara, Astrid, Lauren, Lyla, Lyra, Mnnie
Russell, Woody, Flynn, Buzz, Arlo, Augustus, Eric, Hector, Remy, Luca, Ferris, Cameron, Ren, Howie, Seamus, Harry, Ron, Jasper, Gray, Ethan, Laurie, Sebastian, Alistair, Jules, Maximus, Neo, Tristan, Ethan, Knox, Dawson.
From famous singers and bands to musical terminology, there’s plenty of baby name inspiration from music.
Cadenza, Aria, Allegra, Carol, Melody, Harmony, Viola, Celeste, Lyra, Octavia, Demi, Caprice, Piper, Belle, Calypso, Capella, Harper, Lark, Seraphine.
Drummer, Ellington, Duke, Reed, Elvis, Canto, Hendrix, Ramone, Lennon.
Many baby names influenced by nature and the world around us can be unisex names making them ever more popular as people are looking for non gender specific.
River, Lark, Wolf, Rowan, Leaf, Casper, Orion, Ash, Jasper, Aspen, Bear, Rain, Forest, Storm, Heath, Jet, Sandy, Bay, Wren, Grove.
Luna, Aurora, Holly, Rose, Daisy, Apple, Iris, Rowen, Hazel, Violet, Clementine, Poppy, Olive, Daphne, Juniper, Willow, Cordelia, Lily, Flora, Clover, Phoenix, Isla, Ruby, Jade, Autumn, Sienna, Azalea, Meadow, Savannah, April, May, June, Rosemary, Opal, Skye, Emerald, Gaia, Heather, Zinnia, Primrose, Coral, Fern, Dawn, Lotus, Blossom, Cherry, Misty, Saffron, Fleur, Sage, Briar, Dahlia, Fox, Ivy, Laurel, Magnolia, Prairie, Raven
Baby names inspired by royalty have been popular throughout history with there usually being a spike straight after a new royal baby is born and named. (I’m so relieved my husband agreed with my choice of name for our son, rather than his suggested name George given that 18 months later Prince George arrived, with no doubt, a flurry of boys being given the name after that).
George, James, Charles, Philip, Harry, Henry, William, Louis, Arthur, Edmund, Archie, Harold, Edward, John, Leopold, Nicholas, John, Richard, Robert, Stephen, Albert, Alfred.
Zara, Beatrice, Eugenie, August, Margaret, Elizabeth, Anastasia, Victoria, Mary, Anne, Alice, Catherine, Kate, Megan, Charlotte, Caroline, Louise, Sophie, Lilibet, Diana, Amelia, Mia, Eleanor, Grace, Phillipa.
Old fashioned names
Think names inspired by your grandparents. Many parents now are choosing the short form inspired by older relations in their family. While the full names are also more popular than in previous years.
Stanley, Alfred, Arthur, Albert, Frederick, Frank, Bertie, Ernest
Olive, Mavis, Dorothy, Maud, Florence, Agatha, Joyce, Frank, Mabel, Pearl, Cecilia, Audrey, June, Jean,
Edith, Frederick, Josephine, Olive, Philip, Rosemary, Walter. Other old-fashioned names becoming more popular Amos, Ida, Lucinda, and Ralph
Names that are dying out
Name popularity goes through ups and downs with some remaining in the top 10 for decades. Others become less popular, and eventually there are only 10s of babies will those names each year. These names have been dropping over 95% in the last year or so.
Gary, Shaun, Keiran, Scott, Ashley, Curtis, Craig, Connor, Matthew, Bradley, Callum.
Shannon, Kirsty, Jodie, Gemma, Danielle, Leanne, Ashleigh, Chelsea, Rhiannon.
Tips on choosing a name for your child
It’s not easy choose your baby’s name. I think a lot of people don’t really think about the implications of choosing one name or the other, while others (in particular teachers) struggle to find a name they like that has no negative connotations.
Here’s my tips on choosing a suitable baby name.
1. Think about how the name you choose goes with the surname
2. Is it easy to read and pronounce?
If you choose an alternative spelling, different pronunciation or unusual name, be prepared for your child to always have to correct people. You might not care, but your child may.
3. Check how the initials go together.
Names you choose might be lovely, but if the initials spell out a rude phrase, or have the opportunity to have other children tease yours, maybe rethink the order of them or the name at all.
4. Think about nicknames and short forms.
Do you want them to just have the short name (and which if there’s a choice), the full name, and again, how the short form might work with the surname.
5. Will having the same first name or initial get complicated with other members of the family.
6. Will you share the name with family and friends beforehand.
You don’t want others ‘stealing’ your name choice, but you also don’t want to be accused of ‘stealing’ someone else’s choice either.
7. Popularity level.
Do you want your child to be one of many in a class and at work? (I’ve been there – 70s born, going through the 80s named Emma, with 4 out of 8 in my dance class with the same name). Some of the nicest names are really popular, but there’s a reason why. Because they’re nice names that lots of people like.
Names do go through phases in popularity. But at the other end of the scale, do you really want them to have such an unusual name they’re always having to explain it.
8. Born, worked and died.
Is the name suitable for a baby, a serious business person like a doctor, accountant or solicitor, and a grandparent. This rule guidance is often ignored nowadays, especially with the popularity of old fashioned names with babies having names like Mavis, Herbert and Dotty. But it is worth thinking about especially if you have dreams of your child being a future doctor, QC or politician, and you’ve called them Leaf. People do get judged for their names. Will giving your child a name suitable for an exotic dancer make your child have to work harder to have all the options in future.
See the latest top baby names in the UK and US top baby names (I’m amazed that my name 45 years later is still at number 2 in the US while in the UK is way down at number 60! Whereas my son’s name is still outside the top 100 in both UK and USA, despite it not being an obscure name.
How did you choose your baby’s names?