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Emma, Aiden decade’s top baby names

Many new parents may be taking their cues from celebrities as they choose baby names, but the top selections are still mainly traditional. Among the factors that influenced parents’ decisions: Pop-culture icons, alphabet letters and social trends.
/ Source: TODAY staff

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, 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

EmmaEmilyMadisonSophia  IsabellaKaitlynAvaHaileyHannah Olivia   

Top 10 boy baby names of the decade


Top 10 girl baby names of 2009

IsabellaSophia EmmaOliviaAvaMadisonMadelynChloeLilyAddison

Top 10 boy baby names of 2009


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.

Lou 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 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.

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.”

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