Who can forget when they heard that Gwyneth Paltrow named her baby Apple? Are you also considering a unique, one-of-a-kind name for your baby? How should you handle the strange looks or family backlash that may accompany your decision? And how can you help your little one as she grows to be comfortable with a name that stands out in the crowd?
Jennifer Moss, author of The One-In-A-Million Baby Name Book, says she's surprised at the unique names that are climbing the popularity charts, including Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backwards. "Also people are using surnames as first names to honor members of the family and family tree," she says.
Marcia Layton Turner, the author of Complete Idiot's Guide to 40,000 Baby Names, has also seen her share of "interesting" names. And she believes that parents put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to choose the absolute perfect moniker for their child—one that represents how amazing their baby is and will grow to be.
"Parents who perceive their child to be one-in-a-million will often gravitate toward less common names," she says. "A percentage of those parents feel obligated to choose a name that will truly help the child stand out. Unfortunately, sometimes the child doesn't appreciate being a stand out. And you can't really blame them, especially with names like Espn (pronounced Es-pen) and Female (pronounced Fey-malee)."
Other times, Turner says, since a child's name reflects on the parents who chose it, some moms and dads may see selecting a name as an opportunity for them to stand out. "So rather than opt for one of the more popular names of the day, they will purposely choose a name that is more unique," she says. "Or they'll take a popular name and tweak the spelling; instead of Ashley, for example, they might go with Ashlee or Ashleigh."
Breaking the Name to Family
Given a broader acceptance for rare names, parents-to-be have more options than ever. But still that doesn't mean old-fashioned family members will embrace a more forward-thinking choice. So Moss tells parents to stop asking for advice and to take negative comments with a grain of salt. "Once the baby is born, people are less likely to criticize the name because it will belong to a beautiful human being," she says.
Turner advises parents to keep their name options under wraps until the little one arrives. "Personally, I would caution parents from revealing their name choice before the child is born," she says. "They're just asking for trouble if they do that because those around them who have concerns about the name may believe they have a window of opportunity to convince them to change it. Keep it a surprise."
And when you break the news to family and friends, Turner urges moms and dads to emphasize up front just how much they adore the name. Explain your reasoning for your choice—and don't give naysayers much room to contradict you. And if they do, say something like, "Really? You don't like it? We love it!" End of story, says Turner.
Unique Name Considerations
"Whatever you do, don't choose a name to please someone else," Turner says. "This is your child, and your baby's name should reflect its parents' hopes and dreams and preferences, not someone else's. So what if your best friend thinks the name you've given your daughter sounds like a boy's name? If you like it, that's all that matters. Being pressured into naming your child according to a family tradition is also unwise because you may end up resenting family members later."
Moss urges parents-to-be to view the name from the perspective of their child. "Can the child live with the name the rest of their lives? Is it easy to spell and pronounce or are they destined to spell and explain it to people constantly?" she asks. "A name shouldn't be a burden on your baby. Don't make jokes—if you are laughing at the name, so will everyone else, and that will hurt your child's self-esteem."
Most Unique Celebrity Baby Names
Celebrities are famous for naming their babies off-the-wall names. Here are some of our favorites!
Audio Science—Shannyn Sossamon
Aurelius Cy—Elle Macpherson
Bluebell Madonna—Geri Halliwell
Calico—Alice and Sheryl Cooper
Destry—Kate Capshaw and Stephen Spielberg
Hopper—Robin Wright and Sean Penn
Jaz—Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi
Kal-El Coppola—Nicholas Cage
Kyd—Tea Leoni and David Duchovny
Lark Song—Mia Farrow
Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Diva Muffin—Frank Zappa
Moxie CrimeFighter—Penn Jillette
Sage Moonblood—Sylvester Stallone
Seven Sirius—Erykah Badu
Sosie—Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon
Tallulah—Bruce Willis and Demi Moore