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Video: What are the decade’s most popular baby names?

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    >>> this morning on "today's family," choosing a name for your baby. it is one of the first and most important decisions you make for your little new bundle of joy, and it's often quite the challenge. linda murray is the editor in chief of babycenter.com, and she's got the scoop on the top baby names of the year as well as the top names of the decade. good morning, linda.

    >> good morning.

    >> thanks for joining us.

    >> thank you for having me.

    >> i love this segment. i was reading through it before we reveal some of these names, and i said, i know a child with each name on this list. is it a testament to their popularity or i know a lot of kids?

    >> well, it's a testament to their popularity.

    >> it's so funny.

    >> there are thousands.

    >> how did you compile this list?

    >> on the website, people register their baby names . so, we got 4,000 registered baby names in 2009 . and what we do different from other people is combine together names of different spellings that sound the same.

    >> okay.

    >> because for parents, that's really all that matters. if you're on the playground and someone's yelling aiden , you don't really care who will it's spelled.

    >> you don't care how it's spelled. so true.

    >> just thinking there's too many aidens.

    >> did you find a trend as far as people are looking for strong names or a name that projects femininity? was there a quality there people were looking for?

    >> yeah, we do a survey every year of 5,000 parents, and this year, parents of boys for the first time said they really wanted strong names. they wanted names that were masculine and projected strength, which surprised us. and then --

    >> is that indicative of the times right now, knowing how competitive things are right now?

    >> i think so. i really do think so. i think it's sort of a recession trend. then in the girls category, we saw parents really wanting something individual and then feminine. so, parents are really looking for names that are going to help their kids be successful in life.

    >> let's get to the list. the top girls names of 2009 . and we've got them. isabella, sophia, emma, olivia, ava, madison, madelyn, chloe, lily, i'm going a little fast for the list, and addison on the list. those are all beautiful names.

    >> a lot of beautiful names. lyrical, feminine names on the list.

    >> and the top boys of 2009 . we've got aiden , ethan, jackson, jayden, jacob, noah, caden, logan, lucas and jack. those strong names again.

    >> good, strong boys names. parents really like that.

    >> so, how much emphasis should be placed on a traditional name? do you see a lot of juniors and the thirds? i know that kindra from "the girls next door ," popular reality star, named her son hank iii after his father. are we seeing that trend?

    >> i think if you have a second or third in the family, it's hard to buck those trends. people do want to keep going with that, but in general, we see less of the junior thing happening. people want unique names.

    >> what about trending, is there a hot celebrity name out there? are we seeing that?

    >> if a celebrity becomes too hot and the name is associated with one person -- we were talking about barack earlier, we're seeing that come up on the list, but when one person owns that name, we're not seeing that very popular.

    >> what about sasha and malia?

    >> yes, those names have made huge games. sasha's up 30%, malia 72% on the list.

    >> that is incredible. let's get to our list of top names for girls of the decade.

    >> okay.

    >> because this is really important here. we've got emma, emily, madison, isabella, ava, sophia, kaitlin, which is an interesting spelling. we were talking about how you spell. hannah, hailey and olivia. what stands out to you on those?

    >> i think one of the interesting things we've seen from names earlier in the decade to now is the influence of hispanic culture . 25% of all births today are to hispanics, so names like isabel, even the feminine sounding, yeah.

    >> let's get to the boys name. top names of the decade for boys -- aiden , jacob, ethan, matthew, nicholas, jack, joshua, michael, ryan and andrew. before we let you go, what's the best advice you can give to some parent out there right now who's really grovling over what to do?

    >> the best advice is search out your options and then go to the back door and yell the name out loud. if you can't say this name out loud in the park, this is not a name for you.

    >> there it is. my name is tamron latrice hall. so, i think my mom should

By
TODAY staff
updated 12/22/2009 10:16:02 AM ET 2009-12-22T15:16:02

Many new parents may be taking their cues from celebrities as they choose baby names, but the top selections are still mainly traditional, a new list of the most popular choices of the past 10 years reveals.

While pop-icon names like Miley and Rihanna gained significant numbers in recent years, two classics — Aiden and Emma — top the list of names of the decade, according to BabyCenter.com, which surveyed 10 percent of all babies born in the U.S.

The lists of most popular names below reveal the influences of pop culture, Hollywood parents and even trendy alphabet letters:

Top 10 girl baby names of the decade

Emma
Emily
Madison
Sophia 
Isabella
Kaitlyn
Ava
Hailey
Hannah
Olivia   

Top 10 boy baby names of the decade

Aiden
Jacob
Ethan
Matthew
Nicholas
Jack
Joshua
Ryan
Michael
Andrew

Top 10 girl baby names of 2009

Isabella
Sophia
Emma
Olivia
Ava
Madison
Madelyn
Chloe
Lily
Addison

Top 10 boy baby names of 2009

Aiden
Ethan
Jackson
Jayden
Jacob
Noah
Caden
Logan
Lucas
Jack

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Trends of the decade
Uncommon names likes Nevaeh (“heaven” spelled backward) and Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow’s tot) are more popular than ever before, but more moms are sticking to old-fashioned favorites like Jacob, Joshua, Hannah and Emma, as well as a few modern additions, like Madison.

“Unusual names usually stay out of the top 100, especially if they become too associated with one particular individual or story,” said Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of BabyCenter. “The top 100 list tends to be names most of us have heard, but sometimes a few unusual names creep in — particularly on the girls’ list, where we see more creativity and more changes from year to year.”

Gender-neutral names took a backseat for the early part of the decade, but saw a resurgence in 2009. The trend hasn’t been popular since the ’80s. Giving this fad the official celebrity stamping was none other than supermodel Heidi Klum, who named her daughter (with singer Seal) Lou.

Most popular baby names of the centuryLou also fits in with another decade trend: the letters J, K and L. While J and K have been popular for a while, many of the L names (Lila, Lily) have a lyrical sound.

When it comes to naming boys, moms are less likely to pick individuality as an important quality and are more likely to believe masculinity matters. The top three qualities a boy name should suggest are strength (66 percent), intelligence (53 percent) and masculinity (50 percent), according to a BabyCenter.com poll. A name that merely conveys good looks came in at a measly 15 percent. 

Parents vie for unique names; hence, various spellings of a name once it is deemed “too popular.” That’s why you’ll see Ayden, Aiden and Aeden, or Jordan, Jordin and Jordyn.

Pop-culture push
In the past, parents often chose names related to political figures (Jackie Kennedy) or traditional heroes (Olympian Mark Spitz). These days, however, pop culture has stolen the spotlight. The last few years have shown a dramatic increase in the influence of everything from blockbuster movies to celebrity babies on naming trends.

Video: Names linked to bad behavior

For example: “Bella” was nowhere to be seen among the most popular baby names of 2008, but in the wake of the huge success of the “Twilight” series, it skyrocketed to No. 67 on the top 100 list of the decade.

In a similar vein: Sloane, a female character on the HBO TV show “Entourage,” is becoming more common for baby girls; Addison, the main character on ABC’s “Private Practice,” sneaked into the top 10 of 2009; and Marley, from the film “Marley & Me,” is gaining numbers for both sexes.

“[Parents] may not be able to send their kid to Harvard or buy him or her a celebrity lifestyle, but names are free and can give a piece of that cachet,”  Murray said.

Parents are even paying homage to dead celebrities. Following the King of Pop’s passing, the name Jackson jumped three spots and is now the third most popular boy name of 2009. Heath became much more popular after actor Heath Ledger’s death.

Famous kids — the offspring of tabloid fodder — have their own sphere of influence. Brooklyn (son of David and Victoria Beckham) and Liam (son of Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott) are the fastest-climbing names, while Jayden (son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) and Ava (daughter of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe) both appear in the top 10 of 2009.

Start sharing the news
Gone are the days when women solely took baby name suggestions from immediate family members and close friends. Parents are using social networks and Internet search tools to find that right fit. Not that it’s surprising — 60 percent of moms believe a child’s name contributes to his or her success in life, and are increasingly spending more time researching their choices.

In 2009, 78 percent of moms Googled their choices to find out the meaning of the name, to check on its popularity and to investigate any negative associations. And once they found their pick, 40 percent of moms shared it on a social network, such as Twitter, Facebook or a community blog.

“Today’s mom has so many more resources at her fingertips and because this is such an important decision, she is using them,” Murray said. “She wants the perfect name.”

For more information, visit BabyCenter.com's baby names guide.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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