Sunday Summary: 4.8.18Happy Sunday!

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.

Elsewhere online:

That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. Boudicca. Wow! When I was pregnant with my daughter, we considered some queenly names from history and legend to go with her big brother Arthur’s name. I think Boudicca was mentioned as a joke, but we were nowhere near bold enough to seriously consider it, let alone use it!

  2. I loved that Giancarlo Stanton article! I’m a big baseball fan and have heard references to his many names, but it was cool to learn where they came from, how his unusual name has affected him, and how he’s embraced it. (I guess being one of the best baseball players alive doesn’t hurt in terms of confidence with that kind of thing…)