December 4, 2008 / 2:56 PM / 9 years ago

Parents get serious about baby names in tough year

3 Min Read

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Babies Zuma Nesta Rock and Bronx Mowgli, you're in the minority. Most parents abandoned unusual names for their children, opting instead for traditional names, according to a U.S. survey.

The top boy's name for the year remained Aiden, followed by Jayden, Ethan and Jacob with classic names like Matthew, Jack, Michael, Alexander, Daniel and William all featuring in a list of the top 50 most popular names.

The list, compiled from thousands of baby name entries on the specialist baby website Babycenter.com, found that Emma replaced Sophia as the top girl's name followed by Isabella and Olivia with Sarah, Elizabeth and Anna also popular.

With the United States consumed by politics all year, presidential names also made a return, such as Madison, Taylor, Kennedy for girls and Jackson and Tyler for boys.

Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of babycenter.com, said there was a clear trend for people to choose more serious, old fashioned, classic names, reflecting the tougher times.

"Times have changed and people are taking the world more seriously, affected by what is going on the world," said Murray.

"Even before the economic crisis we've had high gas and food prices all year and people have struggled. Our nation is at war. We have conflict in the world. It is a serious time in American life and it is affecting decisions about naming children."

When parents were asked in the online survey what they wanted a name to represent, the most important qualities for boys were strength, kindness and compassion compared to strength and individuality last year.

For girls it was kindness, compassion, intelligence and strength compared to femininity and individuality last year.

Marla Butler, from Santa Monica in California, chose the name Joshua for her son who was born in July, a brother to two-year-old sister Folbe who took her maiden name as an adventurous first name.

"This time around I wanted a strong, traditional name that was more in keeping with my Jewish tradition," she told Reuters.

"I think it is nostalgia. We want to hold onto our past and keep our memories going and feel comforted. It is a time to turn inwards and going back to the old names is part of that."

But not everyone agreed. Some celebrities still give their children unusual names.

Singers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz named their baby Bronx Mowgli, Australian actress Nicole Kidman and country singer Keith Urban opted for Sunday Rose, while No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani and musician husband Gavin Rossdale opted for Zuma Nesta Rock.

Actress Halle Berry named her daughter Nahla Ariela.

"Celebrities fall into a category of their own. They're creative as a group and like being one of a kind and are less concerned than the general public about setting their kids up for success in the future as they are financial secure," said Murrray.

"But it just shows that even place names have gone downmarket a bit. No more Paris and Brooklyn. We've gone down to the Bronx."

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Patricia Reaney

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