As my co-worker, and everyone’s favorite Mommyish writer, Eve Vawter, would say: doublefuckingnewsflash, people. The Social Security Administration (SSA) just released the official Top Baby Names 2012 and one thing is obvious — you totally did not give your baby that name you said you loved (and neither did I).
I love Nameberry. They are up-to-date on baby name trends, they compile lists like the best names for babies born in winter, or names inspired by Downton Abbey. Once a year, the people over at Nameberry compile the most popular names of the past 12 months and publish it at the end of December to be consumed along with the Top 40 hits, Barbara Walters‘ Top 10 Most Fascinating People, and the Top 100 most ridiculous Real Housewives moments (I might have made that last one up, but surely there would be plenty to fill that quota).
Then, five months later and nearly halfway through the next year, the SSA gets around to publishing their own list and somehow the two “Top Baby Names” are completely different. Either something fishy happens between December and May, or parents just aren’t naming their kids those names they said they loved. Turns out to be the latter and the proof is in the methodology.
Nameberry compiles their best of list from their 13 million page views, while the SSA bases their list on the official U.S. government documentation required after a baby is born. So whatever those parents are clicking on Nameberry — those are the names they love. Those are the names that catch their attention. Those are the names they say out-loud over and over, wondering could they really imagine calling Adelaide for dinner or demanding she clean her room. Those are not, however, the names they are actually giving their children.
Turns out there is zero overlap between the Top 10 Names on the great parenting resource Nameberry and the U.S. Government’s official SSA list – for either girls or boys. In fact, the number one top name on Nameberry – Katniss – doesn’t even break the Top 1000 on the SSA list. The top Nameberry boy’s name – Finn – gets closer, but still peaked at #291 on the SSA list.
Even though a lot of couples passed on the cool name Katniss, there were other pop culture phenomenons that U.S. parents just couldn’t resist, namely Liam Neeson, Game of Thrones, and Nine By Design. Liam broke into the Top 10 for the first time, while Arya and Major took the top spot for the biggest leap of the year.
I knew I wasn’t alone in my obsession with GOT (and the sword-wielding, spunky Arya), but who knew I wasn’t the only one fascinated by those Novogratz and their genetically superior children? Bellamy - sister of the seventh child, Major Novogratz - was on the short list for our two-year-old daughter. Alas, when the day came and our little girl was born, she just didn’t look like a Bellamy.
Without further ado, here are the top 5 comparisons. Nameberry says you wanted to name your daughters Katniss, Charlotte, Imogen, Seraphina and Amelia but when they were born the SSA records show Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava were the top choices. For your sons you practiced Finn, Asher, Henry, Milo and Avery but ultimately decided on Jacob (#1 for the 14th year in a row), Mason, Ethan, Noah and William.
Of course, naming your child is often a compromise — sometimes a group effort. Personal favorites of mine that found their way on the top of the Nameberry list – like Isla or Imogen – were either rejected by my husband or “stolen” by a friend. Maybe that’s what happened to you too.