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Last updated: Wed. Mar. 13, 2013 - 02:45 pm EDT

Liam, Olivia top names for county babies in '12

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top 10 names

There were 6,762 babies born in Allen County last year.

Boys

1. Liam

2. Jacob, Lucas, Mason (tie)

3. William

4. Jackson

5. Alexander

6. Elijah

7. Samuel, Andrew (tie)

8. Noah

9. Henry

10. Ethan, James (tie)

Girls

1. Olivia

2. Sophia

3. Emma

4. Lillian

5. Isabella

6. Ava

7. Ella

8. Addison, Elizabeth, Amelia (tie)

9. Avery

10. Claire

Source: Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health

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Even before he was born, Sasha Skow-Lindsey was 90 percent satisfied with the name she had picked out for her son.

But just to be sure, she waited until the rambunctious and blue-eyed boy's birth before going all in on what he would be called for the rest of his life.

"He looked like a Liam," said Skow-Lindsey, who works for Asher Agency in Fort Wayne.

That was 2 1/2 years ago, and it turned out that Skow-Lindsey was a tad ahead of the curve when it comes to picking out baby names.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health released the county's most popular baby names for boys and girls in 2012 on Tuesday, with Liam topping the list for boys. For girls, more parents chose the name Olivia over all others.

Those choices shouldn't come as a surprise, as they are proving two of the more popular names all over the country, with parents looking at a variety of factors when picking out a name for their little loved ones.

Names could be picked because of celebrities, uniqueness or just due to a style of the times, according to baby name experts.

"Trends do come from celebrities and entertainment," said Jennifer Moss, who created the website www.babynames.com in 1996 and is also the author of "The One-in-A-Million Baby Name Book." "They tend to change on the coast and make their way inland on the homeland."

Moss also said that the names of fictional characters on television shows or movies can drive trends, and noted that in recent years a batch of names stemming from the "Twilight" saga arose. She theorized that "Hunger Games" star Liam Hemsworth, who is linked to Miley Cyrus, might partially account for the recent spike in babies with his first name.

Moss also said Olivia Wilde, an actress in movies like "Gangster Squad" and "Tron: Legacy," might account for the rise among girl names, though she also noted the name "Olivia" is on a downward trend.

Another expert said that many parents – whether they know it or not – are in touch with a particular style or fashion of name, and that's what drives trends.

"Even names that sound different in fundamental ways are part of the same zeitgeist," said Laura Wattenberg, the creator of www.babynamewizard.com and author of the book "Baby Name Wizard," a third edition of which is due out in May.

"Even the two names, Olivia and Liam, have things in common," she continued. "They're heavy on vowel sounds with no consecutive consonants. Names are light today. They have fewer consonants."

And, Wattenberg said, parents are aware of how names might play a part in their child's life, almost using it as a brand before sending him or her out to the world.

"They have to launch their kids into a competitive marketplace," she said.

Skow-Lindsey's son does not take his name from Liam Hemsworth, or Liam Neeson or Liam Gallagher or any other famous Liam, for that matter.

Instead, Skow-Lindsey took the last four letters of her father's name, William, and gave it to her son as a way to honor his grandfather, who died before he was born.

But there are other benefits to it, as well.

It's short, it's easy to pronounce and easy to spell, all things Jennifer Moss said mothers and fathers should consider when naming their children.

"I think it's important for kids to spell and say their names," Skow-Lindsey said. "He'd be able to say it and even spell it for the police if he ever needed to."

But with so many choices in names nowadays, some parents experience "naming regret," according to some experts.

Wattenberg said that parents are willing to go out on a limb compared to 60 or 70 years ago, and that some feel the names they bestow upon their children do not fit them after the fact.

"One piece of advice for parents is to tell them there have been many successful people throughout history that have had ordinary names," Wattenberg said.

jeffwiehe@jg.net


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