The North West Effect: Why More Parents Are Choosing 'Weird' Baby Names

Unconvential baby names are everywhere these days. Why? Because we want our kids to stand out among the crowd. 

Kim Kardashian With Daughter North West kimkardashian/Instagram
The world raised a collective eyebrow when Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West named their firstborn child North West. And sure, the moniker is, well, unlikely, but it's actually reflective of a serious trend in baby naming (this shouldn't surprise anyone—the Kardashians have a pretty obvious lock on trendsetting). 

Celebrities have been into the unusual baby names for some time now, but it's clear that this line of thinking has trickled down to the masses. Think about the new parents you know: You probably have a few friends who chose classic names (James, Mary, Catherine, Jonathan...), but you probably know quite a few people who went with more modern, unconventional monikers. 

Turns out, you're not imagining it: Recent research indicates that the frequency of once "popular" baby names dropped between 2004 and 2015. To put it in perspective: Just 10.09 percent of boys born received top 10 names between 2004 and 2006, and that number fell below 10 percent in subsequent years. An even lower percentage of girls born during that time frame were given top 10 names, with just 7.88 percent between 2008 and 2015, according to Live Science.

It does sort of make sense: Now more than ever, your name is your brand, and having one that stands out can make you memorable. Unconventional names translate well in our increasingly digital world: They mean you can likely get an email address, social media handle and domain name that reflect your identity on the most basic level. Now, we're not suggesting that parents are thinking about their children's future Instagram handles when naming them (although in this day and age, ya never know), but there's definitely more of a focus on innovation, individuality and just general thinking outside of the box these days. It makes sense that this ethos would influence the way we think about identifying our children.

"Maybe people feel like they need to stand out more because only some people make it," psychologist Jean Twenge said, according to Live Science. "There's just a longer-scale trend toward uniqueness and individualism that isn't necessarily rooted in these economic cycles."

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