8 baby name trends for 2017

From Vikings to grandpas and even acronyms, here are the hottest trends for baby names in 2017.

Newborn baby lying down

Photo: iStockphoto

Expecting in 2017? Haven’t yet settled on a name? We talked to baby name experts Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard, and Duana Taha, author of The Name Therapist and baby name extraordinaire at LaineyGossip.com to get the scoop on the latest trends. These are the top baby name trends for 2017.

1. Sounds good to me
Do the names on your list just roll right off your tongue? Wattenberg predicts that in 2017 the way a particular name sounds out loud will matter more than ever. “The overall trend is gearing toward lightness, meaning there will be lots of smooth names with no hardened sounds.” Names like Mia, Noah, Liam, Ruby, Luna and Lucas continue to be popular, she says.

There’ll also be a whole lot of N sounds in the year ahead, too, says Taha. We’ve seen Declan, Aiden, Jayden and Braydon, but N names are gaining ground. “Parents will head into the sound trend but with names—such as Samson, Norman or Newman—that haven’t been heard recently,” says Taha. For girls, the letter L is still hot. Anything along the Ella continuum will continue to be popular, she says, with variations like Elle, Evelyn, Lillian, Arabella and Isabella.

2. Seeing double
Of course, appearances matter, too—how a name looks on paper can be the deciding factor. Wattenberg predicts that with the ever-growing popularity of Charlotte, parents will also look for more elegant-looking double-t names. She’s already seen an uptick in names like Emmett, Scarlett, Wyatt, Elliott and Everett. And the rule applies to other consonants as well, such as Emmeline, Harris, Finnegan, Ellis, Bennett and Forrest.

3. Keep it short
A light-sounding name also goes hand-in-hand with a short name, too. Wattenberg says she’s not only seeing the trend for using common nouns as names, such as Serenity or Destiny, she’s also increasingly seeing parents opt for shorter nouns, like True or Dare. Shorter nature-inspired names, like Fox or Bear, are also gaining traction as well, she says.

4. Creativity is key
“People want a unique name for their baby, something that isn’t popular,” says Taha. “So parents will try to find a new name in an already existing trend.” Parents are now taking what Wattenberg calls “high-value scrabble letters” and inserting them into a name so it can stand out. For example, the name Jackson might be turned into Jaxxon, or the name Alexander might be spelled Alexzander. Another baby name trend for 2017 Wattenberg is expecting to see more of are acronym names, such as ILY (text speak for I love you). Wordplay, she says, is another avenue for parents to open things up in a creative way. “If a parent does make up a name, you want to have a story to tell. When we talk about the meaning of names, really what we’re talking about is why we chose this and what it could mean to them,” says Wattenberg.

5. Old-fashioned versus Unisex
“We’re in a real split between names we consider to be old-fashioned or grandparents’ names and names that are more gender neutral,” says Taha. One of the biggest trends for boys are old-fashioned, grandpa-esque names. And we’re not talking about names like Henry or Vincent, we’re talking about old-school monikers like Gerald, Norman, Barney or Harvey. Because names that used to be considered old-fashioned are now very common (like Henry and Vincent), parents are delving deeper to find a name for their baby. Parents who like popular names like Leonardo will be finding ways to spin it into older-sounding names like Lionel or Leland.

“Grandparents’ names sound fresh in a way that your own parents’ names never do,” says Taha. “When you don’t grow up hearing those names, they sound charming and new.”

For girls, traditional, feminine names like Isabella and Sophie will be topping lists alongside unisex names like Avery in 2017. And while these frilly names will continue in popularity, Taha predicts surnames-as-first names like Sawyer, Archer and Delaney will continue to be trendy for girls in 2017, along with the name Elliott, which is traditionally considered a male name.

6. Scholarly
According to Wattenberg, the recent wave of short names and old-fashioned names has also opened up another trend—naming your bébé after a scientist or scholar. Names like Tycho (after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe), Tesla (as in Nikola Tesla), Edison (like Thomas Edison), and Kessler (referring to NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler), are the next big thing.

7. Scandi-style
With the popularity of shows and movies like Thor, Vikings, and How to Train Your Dragon, Wattenberg says that there will definitely be a spike in Nordic names in North America. Expect to hear tiny tots being called Bjorn, Odin, Wagner, Freya, Astrid or Sigrid in the next couple of years.

8. Go bold or go home
Riot, Axl, Maverick, Chaos—the sky’s the limit with how aggressive boy names will start sounding, says Wattenberg. “As more and more boy names are used for girls, it’s inventing a whole new realm of ultra-macho names,” says Wattenberg.

Just like 2016, regal names like Reign, Prince, King or Empress will continue to remain strong. “There’s definitely a sense of celebrating a child with a name that puts them on top of the hill,” says Wattenberg. And while virtue names are still popular, new parents no longer feel the need to use Patience, Prudence or Chastity. New-age virtue names include ones like Dream, Journey or Destiny (a name that’s still popular). “It’s about instilling confidence rather than holding them back,” says Wattenberg.

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