21/10/2014 12:02 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Would You Choose A Wacky Name For Your Baby?


Celebrity baby names. A bit off the wall, aren't they? OK, that's probably the understatement of the year.

Let's face it, Katie Price's younger daughter is unlikely to be one of three kids called Bunny at primary school. And little Wyatt Kutcher – Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher's newborn – won't meet many girls sharing her first name either.

Despite their craziness, names like Apollo, Sparrow, Blue, Jermajesty and Maxwell (for a girl) don't seem out of place in airy fairy A-list La La Land.

But, these days, it's not just famous parents shunning the top 50 baby names. Non starry mums and dads can't resist the pull of a unique name either.

They might change the spelling of a traditional name, make something up or go down the Katie Price route and call their newborn after a fluffy pet. It's fair to say that today's naming habits are far from the 1950s when parents chose from a smaller pool of names and most babies seemed to be called John or Susan. (Ironically, a 2014 newborn called John or Susan would actually be a pretty left field choice...)

"Parents today are conscious of their 'brand' and want to give names to their children that help them stand out," says Bliss Hanlin, director of community for Baby Names by BabyBump app. "Past generations grew up being the 3rd Jennifer or Jessica, in a class.

"They remember what it was like to always have a last initial as part of your name and don't want their own children to feel less than special."

New mum Tiffany, who gave birth earlier this year, purposefully sought an unusual baby name.

"Combined with my very unusual surname, my own name stands out, which made me feel special when I was growing up," she says. "So, when my partner and I were choosing baby names, we ruled out anything popular.

"Actually, it was a bit gutting as our favourite names were Jamie and Jessie but we didn't want half the classroom having the same name.

"We struggled to pick a girl's name but we both loved Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books. The main character Lyra is a feisty, bright, kick-ass heroine. We liked the connotations and, when our daughter was born, it suited her perfectly.

"So far, it's working out well. People always comment on Lyra's name, with most saying that they've never heard of it before but that they like it. I love that it gets a strong reaction, just like my name."

During pregnancy, with hormones raging, many expectant mums add wildcard names to their list - and it seems more of them are acting on them.

Of course, there's a lot to be said for being different. For a start, you'd never have to go through your school years being Little Chloe or worse, BIG Chloe.

But there are downfalls to uniqueness too.

Surely, no one would choose to spend their life saying: "Yep, that's my REAL name, honest," or: "No, not Sophie. It's S-O-F-E-E."

Eighty years of that could be pretty annoying.


Most kids simply want to fit in with their peers. And how about the simple pleasures of childhood that those with unusual names are excluded from, such as choosing a personalised mug from gift shops?


Growing up, I used to love finding stuff with my (standard 1970s) name emblazoned on it. It's something that my own daughter – Marianne – probably won't get to do. The year she was born, there were less than 40 other Mariannes born in the UK.

We didn't check the figures before we named her – we just loved the name. But I feel a pang when we go into gift shops and there's nothing for her.

Thankfully, we chose her a nickname that's pretty popular, which has solved the problem. And thank goodness for the trusty internet, where you can order personalised items for any name.

"My daughter will never find a souvenir keying bearing her name in gifts shops, either," says Ben, dad to 14-month-old Milania. "Her name's always spelt wrong by other people, and probably always will be. But my partner and I discussed names endlessly and never once mentioned anything straightforward.

"I've always wished that my own name was more interesting and this was an opportunity to ensure that my daughter never felt the same way."

So, if you do choose an unusual name, how do you cope with the blank looks from strangers and 'sorry, can you repeat that?' scenarios?

Siri – mum to four-year-old Storm doesn't take it to heart.

"When I introduce Storm, fifty per cent of people assume that I'm a hippy," she laughs. "The other fifty per cent think that it's a cool name. We get lots of compliments, but of course, the ones that don't like it don't say anything."

Although she's lived in the UK for years, Siri chose the name as a nod to her Scandinavian roots.

"In Norway, strong names such as Bjorn, which means Bear, are popular," she says. "Storm isn't common in Norway either but, in the UK, it's barely heard of.

"It makes people remember Storm as the boy with the cool name or the strange name, depending on their opinion. Most importantly, he carries his name with style."

So how do we pick names? For many parents-to-be, the yearly lists of popular baby names are now essential reading – purely so that they can immediately discount anything on them.

"The lists are seen as a barometer of social change," says parenting expert Tanith Carey, author of Taming the Tiger Parent: How to Put Your Child's Wellbeing First in a Competitive World.

"Parents can spot trends and change direction if they don't want everyone in their child's nursery class to be called the same."

Tanith, who says that she's always loved her own unusual name, admits to coming a cropper when naming her own child.

"I named my 12-year-old daughter right at the start of the 'Lily' curve," she says. "Now there are six in her school year!

"If I'd known that her name would appear so high on the list, I probably would have changed my mind. I chose a more unusual name for my younger daughter, Clio. She loves being the only girl in school with that name."

So do celebrities' wacky naming styles affect the choices of everyday parents?

"It depends on the acceptability of a name," says Tanith. "There wasn't a huge increase in the popularity of the name Apple, when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin chose it for their daughter.

"Although their choice may have persuaded parents to be more adventurous, people generally thought it was a silly name.

"While parents don't want to be slavish followers of celebs, they don't mind if a famous person or royal has helped bring a name back into vogue. You can see that with the trend for the name George, which is all the rage since the birth of Prince George."

But what if the worst happens and a child grows up to detest their unusual name?

Peter Andre has admitted that his elder daughter hates being called 'Princess', the name carefully chosen by her mum – his ex-wife - Katie Price.

It recently took Katie six weeks to decide on the name 'Bunny' for her newest baby - her fifth child - because she was struggling to find a name to match the 'craziness' of Princess Tiaamii Crystal Esther Andre.

After working their way through a shortlist that included Lady, Bambi, Disney and Ethel, she and husband Kieran Hayler finally settled on Bunny.

'We couldn't call this baby something like Helen or Lisa,' she told OK magazine after the birth.

But is there a chance that baby Bunny may beg for a deed poll name change in future years?

Tanith Carey says that the signs aren't promising.

"Katie may think that her daughter looks as cute as a bunny now, but how will Bunny feel if she goes into a serious career when she's older?" she says.

"Her name will always create preconceptions about her that she'll find hard to change. It's important that any name allows a child its dignity, and doesn't label or stereotype."

Despite the potential pitfalls, unusual baby names are clearly here to stay.

"Who wants to be in the Top 50?" says Helen, mum to a baby boy, Remy. "When I introduce Remy, people often say 'where did that come from?' but I believe that a person grows with their name.

"There may be comments and faces pulled when a newborn is first introduced. But names soon become irrelevant. It's just what you call a person and, after a while, they wouldn't suit anything else."

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