OliviaBaby names: We're obsessed with them. When I was naming my daughter, I spent hours combing through baby naming sites (especially the Social Security Administration's popular baby names site), carefully making, pruning, adding to, and reordering my list. This name was too popular. That one not popular enough. You get the idea.

BabyCenter has just released its annual list of the 100 most popular baby names of 2011, which it compiles based on responses from its readers. The top 10 names for each gender won't surprise many of us: Many of them also made the list last year. They are ...

Girls' Names
  1.    Sophia
  2.    Emma
  3.    Isabella
  4.    Olivia
  5.    Ava
  6.    Lily
  7.    Chloe
  8.    Madison
  9.    Emily
10.    Abigail

Boys' Names
  1.    Aiden
  2.    Jackson
  3.    Mason
  4.    Liam
  5.    Jacob
  6.    Jayden
  7.    Ethan
  8.    Noah
  9.    Lucas
10.    Logan

Aiden and Sophia continue their reign. Mason and Liam and Emily are on the rise. But lists like these should also come with a warning to parents: Don't get too hung up on popularity when it comes to choosing your kid's name. Whether your daughter is the only Olivia in the sandbox or your Jacob has to go through elementary school, like I did, with the initial of his last name tacked on as an additional identifier -- it hardly matters, especially not in the long run. What matters is that you pick a name you love and maybe one that has meaning to you. A name you can live with long term.

My husband and I ended up forgoing our original choice for our daughter because it ranked too high on the Social Security Administration's lists of popular baby names. We went with a name that was less common -- a name, ultimately, we came to love much more. I don't regret making the change. Not even a little. The name we picked belongs to our daughter so clearly and so dearly. But I do wonder if I could have better spent all those hours I frittered away fretting about it. At the very least, I could have read up on the finer points of diaper changing ...

Are you worried about your baby's name being too popular -- or not popular enough?

 

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