Don't be surprised if you run into a bunch of kids named Sophia, Aiden, Emma and Jackson at nursery schools and daycare centers during the next few years. Those were the top baby names for 2012, according to BabyCenter, a pregnancy and parenting Website.
New to the top 10 list of names this year were Mia and Jack, with moms and dads also looking to new, unexpected sources for baby name inspiration.
Names with significance
"A unique or unusual name remains one of the top qualities parents seek in a baby name, but it's trending down. What's becoming more important to new parents is finding a name with meaning," says Linda Murray, BabyCenter global editor-in-chief. "Parents are looking for more substance in baby names. They want names with more significance. Meaning can come from the name itself (for example, Sophia means 'wisdom' and Aiden means 'fiery') or because the name is associated with a loved one or other inspiring person. This is a significant new trend in baby naming and one I'm delighted to see."
BabyCenter's Top 100 Baby Names list combines names that sound the same but have different spellings, making it a true measure of baby name popularity. The Website also conducts its Baby Names Survey every year, talking directly to parents about their baby name decisions and diving deep into the psychology and trends surrounding baby naming.
Pop culture influence
Moms weren't only focused on names with meaning this year. As always, pop culture had a big influence, with celebrities, athletes, and politicians also making their mark. Additionally, characters in TV shows and books sent moms' imaginations running wild.
The hottest baby name trends of 2012 are:
50 Shades of Grey
It doesn't get any hotter than this! Parents are looking to the spicy 50 Shades of Grey trilogy for baby name inspiration. The name Grey is up nearly 20 percent, Anastasia jumped by 10 percent, and Ana climbed 35 spots.
Interestingly, the name Christian declined in popularity, leading BabyCenter editors to believe that while moms are physically attracted to Christian, they do not see him as a role model for their sons. A third of pregnant moms still deciding on a name say they are looking for inspiration from characters in books, an increase of 6 percent versus last year.
From singing sensations to the royals and the Olympics, it was a year with great focus on the UK, and this has clearly influenced American naming trends. The boy band One Direction is leading the trend of British names on the rise. Four out of the five band members' names are up this year, and the fifth, Liam, gets bragging rights as the hottest of the bunch. Liam ranks number four on our top 100 list for the second year in a row. Additionally, the name Harry is up a whopping 57 percent since last year, and Pippa increased by 35 percent. They are also faring better than Will and Kate, whose names have both decreased in popularity.
Moms are celebrating the lighter side of parenthood this year. The first names of comediennes Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Chelsea Handler and Kristen Wiig are all climbing the charts. Amy soared 41 percent, Maya rose nearly 25 percent, Chelsea saw a nearly 10 percent increase and Kristen scrambled up 5 percent. Additionally, BabyCenter moms can't get enough of Betty White. Out of all the funny ladies, the name Betty showed the biggest jump -- a gain of 54 percent this year.
The smart phone may just be the best parenting tool since diapers, and some moms and dads are paying homage to industry leader Apple in their choice of baby names. The moniker Apple, though still an unusual choice, rose 15 percent for girls, vaulting a whopping 585 spots. For boys, the name Mac jumped 12 percent. And parents sure like the sound of Siri: The company's voice-enabled personal assistant climbed 5 percent on the list of girl names.
And They Lived Happily Ever After ...
New movies and TV shows such as Brave, Snow White and the Huntsman and Once Upon a Time have moms in a fairy-tale frenzy. TV characters (and the actors who play them) are becoming an increasingly popular source of baby name inspiration (up 11 percent since last year) and, as a result, names like Hamish, Angus, Graham, Finn and August are on the rise for boys, with Regina, Charlize, Belle and Ruby spiking for girls.
POTUSes from the past are proving much more popular than the ones of today. The name Reagan increased a whopping 46 percent, and fellow past presidents Kennedy, Carter, Lincoln and Nixon all jumped in the rankings. No such wins for Barack, Mitt, Joe, or Paul.
It seems space was a huge naming inspiration for parents this year: Sky, Star, Luna, Skylar, Heaven, Stella and Mars all flew higher than last year. BabyCenter moms aren't alone; celebrities like Uma Thurman -- who named her daughter Luna -- are looking to the sky as well.