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NewsThe papers took a break from berating Australians for their taste in baby names on the day that the US name data was released, and reported that they had found a nation even worse at naming children. If you thought the Australian name list was weird, just wait until you see the American one, this article gloats. Only a few weeks ago, they were telling us that at last normal names were popular again, but now  popular names here are “weird”, but not as weird as in the US. The headline tells us that King and Messiah are the most popular names in the US, which is a blatant lie – of course the most popular names are Jacob and Sophia. Yep, weird old Jacob and Sophia. Tut tut.

Back to berating us. According to this article in the Herald Sun, birth notices display an increasing abundance of ludicrous made up names, or worse still, perfectly normal names that are deliberately misspelt. I read birth notices almost every day, and I haven’t seen an increasing abundance of either. Nine out of ten times when I see a name that looks “made up”, when I do a quick Google check, it turns out to be legitimate name I didn’t know about. I suspect a similar level of ignorance would explain most cases of “made up names”. Also, variant spellings tend to be pretty low key – it’s mostly just Izabellas, Ryleighs and the like. There’s maybe a handful of times per year that the spelling of a name is so unintuitive and confusing that I actually can’t tell what name it is supposed to represent. Hardly an abundance.

More advice on variant spellings from Mark McCrindle, and this time I think it’s probably a valid point. He suggests that with our names now so firmly attached to our digital profile, a variant spelling could mean that your email doesn’t go through, or your Twitter handle is confused with someone else’s because it has been misread. Of course, we don’t know whether email, Twitter and Facebook etc will still exist in the future, or what form they will take if they do, but at least this is a practical issue to think about when deciding how to spell your child’s name.

An article on the Essential Baby website discussed severe baby name anxiety – getting so stressed over what to call your child that you become unable to pick any name at all. That’s the case with Sydney mum Kellie, who is still unable to name her seven-week-old daughter. Kellie’s partner has left her in full control of the naming, but it’s a responsibility she doesn’t want. Interestingly, Kellie blames at least some of her problem on sharing her shortlist before the birth, as the responses of her peers influenced her feelings toward the names she had chosen. If prone to self-doubt and anxiety, over-sharing before the birth may not be a good idea.

Meanwhile a mother writing in the Messenger Daily News knew exactly what to name her daughter – Lily. It had been her favourite name for years, and she loved it. But she spent most of her pregnancy agonising over the choice, worrying that Lily was too popular a name. As labour began, she committed to Lily because she wanted to be able to tell her daughter her name had been chosen with love. When daughter #2 was expected, the chosen name Harper caused similar prenatal agony as she worried it was too much of a “celebrity name”, but again, she went with her heart. What a lot of unnecessary stress we put ourselves through!

The parents of rugby union player Scott Sio had a different approach to naming their child. A few days after he was born, Scott’s father David played against Scotland for Samoa. It was decided that if Samoa won, the baby would be given a Samoan name – Manu. However, Scotland prevailed, so his name was chosen from the victorious side. Scott Sio says his name story is “kinda cool”.

While rushing around one morning with the TV on in the background, I heard the tail end of a piece on ABC News Breakfast. It seems that viewers had phoned or emailed in with their opinions on names, and it was generally agreed that little boys whose names start with J are always in trouble. One of the presenters has a son named Jack, but he didn’t seem to think Jack was any more trouble than the next child. So there you go – name your son a name starting with J, and the perception may be that he’s a bit of a handful, at least amongst the sort of people who email breakfast TV.

Speaking of name perception, there’s a slightly creepy TV commercial for the Kia Cerato which shows a man on a date when his other girlfriend calls on the car phone requesting a hook-up. She has a phone sexline voice, and her name is Chantelle. A few years ago, there was a survey of 4000 people in Britain, and it transpired that girls named Chantelle were considered the most likely to have sex on a first date or engage in casual sex, which may have influenced the advertising agency’s choice of name for the “other woman”.

Meanwhile I keep getting sent the same chain email about an earlier British survey published by that august research institution, The Sun. Their survey, which had only 1000 respondents, showed that men believed the “easiest” girls were named Kelly, Tanya, Debs, Becky, Steph, Michelle, Tina, Lisa, Carly and Nicky. Women believed that men named Lee, Dave, Andy, Steve, Kevin, Gary, Paul, Darren, Jason and Ben were the most likely to “try something on” on a first date, and were therefore seen as guys to avoid.