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Editor's Note: Noah, Sophia most popular names

Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 9:22 a.m. CDT

Naming a baby requires a certain period of borderline obsession.

Unless you are fortunate enough to have a family name that is a no-brainer to pass on, or you decided in middle school what your children’s names would be and your partner agreed to go along with it, you are faced with a monumental decision.

The Social Security Administration recently released its annual list of the top 10 boys and girls names given to babies last year. Sophia was the top girls’ name for the third year in a row, and Noah hit No. 1 on the boys’ list for the first time – what’s bigger news is that it was the first time since 1960 that the top boys’ name was neither Jacob nor Michael. (David was the top boys’ name that year, in case you were wondering.)

When we were expecting each of our two boys, we anxiously pulled up the Social Security’s list to see what the kids a year or two older than ours were likely to be named. It’s a delicate balance; we didn’t want to pick one of the top names, in the hopes our kids wouldn’t have to go through school with a last initial tacked on to their names. (From kindergarten through my senior year, there were scarcely ever more than 30 kids in my class, but you wouldn’t have known it by the number of Joshuas – Josh M., Josh O., and Josh K., just off the top of my head.)

On the other hand, we didn’t want to give them names so unique that they would spend their lives having to spell them for people or correct pronunciation. (My name’s not that unusual, but I’ve given up correcting people. If it’s a feminine name that starts with D, I’ll probably answer to it.)

And, of course, just because the name you chose wasn’t popular last year doesn’t mean it won’t be the year your child is born, especially if it was inspired by a popular movie, book, song or celebrity. Our oldest son’s name was close to the bottom of the top 100 when we named him in 2006, based on 2005’s popular names; the year we chose it it was in the top 30.

Even if you’re not naming a baby, the list is still pretty fun to look at. You can find it at ssa.gov, and even search popular names by year or track a name’s popularity over the decades.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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