Most popular baby names of 2012 go old school

10:23 AM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Retro seems to be the latest trend - at least for baby names.

Those lists of popular and oh-so-trendy names that prospective parents pore over used to be a guide for selecting just the right name. Now, though, they may be more about what not to choose.

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"They don't want their child to be a cookie cutter. They want their kid to have a unique identity," says Linda Murray of BabyCenter, a San Francisco-based pregnancy and parenting website, which Thursday released its list of top names for 450,000 babies born in 2012 to moms who registered with the site.

Aiden topped the boys' list for the eighth consecutive year. Sophia was No. 1 for girls for the third straight year. But the top 10 lists also include classic names from the past, such as Ava and Lily, as well as Jack, new to the top 10 this year.

Jack was among the top 20 boys names in the 1920s and 1930s, according to the Social Security Administration, which has tracked baby names since 1880, based on applications for Social Security numbers. Its 2012 list comes out in May.

"Names from two generations back are meaningful and retro and have a cool factor," says Murray, who says the site reaches more than 12 million U.S. moms a month. About 75% are white, but more ethnic names appear lower on the list. "Since we focus on the top 100 names, they aren't typically seen here."

BabyCenter's site for Spanish speakers in the USA also has a top 100 list (out in January), which has included crossovers such as Sofia, Isabella and Olivia.

Katie Bednar, of Rochester Hills, Mich., named 19-month-old Evelyn after her grandmother, but she and her husband, Loren, 32, call the baby "Ellie." "We kept the name a secret till after the baby was born," says Bednar, 29. "My grandma was so excited."

Although Lacey Moler of Austin named her 9-month-old Olivia - which ranks third for girls on BabyCenter's list - they call her "Lo," for "Little Olivia."

"We knew when we named her Olivia we would not call her Olivia," says Moler, 30. "It was just so she could have the name to go back on if wanted to have a more professional name."

Moler is co-founder of a website launched in July called BellyBallot.com, which allows real-time reaction from friends and family to potential baby names.

She says names that get consistently high numbers include Savannah, Ava, Michael, Noah and Owen. Those that the site declares "bottomed out" include Emma and Zoe.

Parenting.com, which has compiled baby-name lists in the past, notes that Isabella and Jacob are the most-searched names in 2012. Isabella is fourth on the BabyCenter girls' list, and Jacob is eighth for boys. Four of BabyCenter's top 10 boy names start with the letter J.

Sounds and popularity are both important in name choices, says Jonah Berger of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who has studied 100 years of data on first names.

"The fact that we want to be different leads some people to avoid the most popular name, but it leads us to like similar-sounding names and pick other names with the same sound that are less popular."

BabyCenter's top 100 names for boys and girls in 2012:

Boys

1. Aiden

2. Jackson

3. Ethan

4. Liam

5. Mason

6. Noah

7. Lucas

8. Jacob

9. Jayden

10. Jack

11. Logan

12. Ryan

13. Caleb

14. Benjamin

15. William

16. Michael

17. Alexander

18. Elijah

19. Matthew

20. Dylan

21. James

22. Owen

23. Connor

24. Brayden

25. Carter

26. Landon

27. Joshua

28. Luke

29. Daniel

30. Gabriel

31. Nicholas

32. Nathan

33. Oliver

34. Henry

35. Andrew

36. Gavin

37. Cameron

38. Eli

39. Max

40. Isaac

41. Evan

42. Samuel

43. Grayson

44. Tyler

45. Zachary

46. Wyatt

47. Joseph

48. Charlie

49. Hunter

50. David

51. Anthony

52. Christian

53. Colton

54. Thomas

55. Dominic

56. Austin

57. John

58. Sebastian

59. Cooper

60. Levi

61. Parker

62. Isaiah

63. Chase

64. Blake

65. Aaron

66. Alex

67. Adam

68. Tristan

69. Julian

70. Jonathan

71. Christopher

72. Jace

73. Nolan

74. Miles

75. Jordan

76. Carson

77. Colin

78. Ian

79. Riley

80. Xavier

81. Hudson

82. Adrian

83. Cole

84. Brody

85. Leo

86. Jake

87. Bentley

88. Sean

89. Jeremiah

90. Asher

91. Nathaniel

92. Micah

93. Jason

94. Ryder

95. Declan

96. Hayden

97. Brandon

98. Easton

99. Lincoln

100. Harrison

Girls

1. Sophia

2. Emma

3. Olivia

4. Isabella

5. Ava

6. Lily

7. Zoe

8. Chloe

9. Mia

10. Madison

11. Emily

12. Ella

13. Madelyn

14. Abigail

15. Aubrey

16. Addison

17. Avery

18. Layla

19. Hailey

20. Amelia

21. Hannah

22. Charlotte

23. Kaitlyn

24. Harper

25. Kaylee

26. Sophie

27. Mackenzie

28. Peyton

29. Riley

30. Grace

31. Brooklyn

32. Sarah

33. Aaliyah

34. Anna

35. Arianna

36. Ellie

37. Natalie

38. Isabelle

39. Lillian

40. Evelyn

41. Elizabeth

42. Lyla

43. Lucy

44. Claire

45. Makayla

46. Kylie

47. Audrey

48. Maya

49. Leah

50. Gabriella

51. Annabelle

52. Savannah

53. Nora

54. Reagan

55. Scarlett

56. Samantha

57. Alyssa

58. Allison

59. Elena

60. Stella

61. Alexis

62. Victoria

63. Aria

64. Molly

65. Maria

66. Bailey

67. Sydney

68. Bella

69. Mila

70. Taylor

71. Kayla

72. Eva

73. Jasmine

74. Gianna

75. Alexandra

76. Julia

77. Eliana

78. Kennedy

79. Brianna

80. Ruby

81. Lauren

82. Alice

83. Violet

84. Kendall

85. Morgan

86. Caroline

87. Piper

88. Brooke

89. Elise

90. Alexa

91. Sienna

92. Reese

93. Clara

94. Paige

95. Kate

96. Nevaeh

97. Sadie

98. Quinn

99. Isla

100. Eleanor

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