I spent some time with my nieces and nephews this weekend, all of them ages six and under. That’s not remarkable, but here’s what is: when I looked, really looked at the characters on their toys and sippy cups and pajamas, I realized that time had passed me by.
Even though my youngest is still nine, the fictional characters that were most real to my little nieces and nephews? For the most part, they’re different than the set of animated creatures and superheroes and princesses that were a part of my kids’ youngest years. There’s overlap, of course. Batman and Spider-Man. Disney princesses. But not as much as you might think.
That’s a new phenomenon, fueled first by cable television (Nickelodeon in the 1980s, Disney Channel a little later) and now by Netflix and Amazon Prime and whatever is coming next.
When it comes to baby naming, I think it means two things:
- Our pop culture references are fragmented. Depending on your age, you almost certainly know that Ross and Rachel named their daughter Emma, or that The Brady Bunch introduced an quirky younger cousin called Oliver near the end of the show’s run. But can you name the baby from The Big Bang Theory? Or Black-ish? Even for the big network series, the smash hits, they’re not as broadly familiar as they used to be. This, in turn, makes it less risky to name your baby Halley or DeVante. Others might find the name unusual, but they won’t necessarily make the connection.
- As new content is introduced at a rapid-fire pace, there are more and more opportunities to hear new names. And ultimately, that’s the key – because until parents hear a possibility, it’s probably not going to make their list.
You might argue that programming aimed at under-fives has no bearing on future baby names – or, at least, not for twenty years or more. But that’s not the case. Ask any parent of a toddler today, and chances are that they can name at least a few of the Paw Patrol members.
Which reminds me: Marshall is a firefighting member of Paw Patrol; Caliana comes from Shimmer and Shine; there’s an Amaya on PJ Masks, and Kion? He’s the star of The Lion Guard.
Speed: it’s the new normal.
- Here’s the reason Jeffrey Dean Morgan and wife Hilarie Burton named their daughter George. Blame Bonanza. Interestingly, the show did not cause a spike in girls given the name back in 1968, when the episode titled, “A Girl Named George” originally ran.
- Is Gloria ready for a comeback? Cleveland Evans says yes, and I think he’s on to something.
- I may be obsessed with this thread on the Nametalk forums: Imaginary Birth Announcements. Odette Mara Endellion, Caledon River Aurelius, and more than 300 pages of marvelously inventive combinations. You’re welcome!
- Interesting suggestions for naming children based on their birth order. Twain is my favorite, and Clover comes in second!
- Names that are big in Malta. As always, it’s the round-up of rarities that intrigues me: Gianella, Elkin, Turu …
- This story about Giancarlo Stanton dropping “Mike” for his birth name makes me want to stand up and cheer!
- This family of YouTubers just named their newest daughter Cozette Delilah Rose.
- A girl named Boudicca Zoë Eileen! So bold.
That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!