Hi Duana,

I (like many women out there) have had a running list of baby names for my future child since about the age of 23 (I am now 31). I'm currently due with my first babe in March, and even though we were planning on keeping the gender a surprise, we unfortunately ended up finding out due to some medical testing we had to go through, that we are having a girl! As much as I was disappointed at the fact that our surprise was no longer, I realized that it would now be much easier to narrow down our name choices to the female gender. 

My husband and I seem to have settled on my absolute favourite name already, but we tend not to use it in conversation when talking about our future kid, as I have this fear that by the time she arrives, I may change my mind (I don't know why). The name is Parker. I love the way it sounds. It is simple, and easy to spell and pronounce, yet I still feel like it is not popping up on the radar (at least where I am from). I can picture her as an adorable 3 year old playing outside, but also picture her as a strong, educated, opinionated professional woman in her 30's, making her way in the world. The last name will be [something like Norway]. I do believe Parker Norway flows beautifully. My dilemma is this... is this name going to become too popular? Have you seen it on the radar? Is it going to become like the Charlotte/Chloe/Everly/Emma names of today, in five years when she’s in kindergarten?? Or is it still flying somewhat under the radar? I also hope people don't think "Parker......what the heck kind of a name is that?"

A few of my other choices are as follows:
Elin (probably my second favorite)

Should I just be sticking with my gut and keeping the name Parker? Like I said, I absolutely love it, but feel like I should have some back ups. Your help is greatly appreciated!

D from Winnipeg


Surprise! You thought it was going to be easier, if not as all-over-the-place blue-sky, to name a child once you knew the gender. Surprise, it totally isn’t! Why is it that even cutting out 50% of your options doesn’t make this any easier? How come we haven’t figured out a way to block out the pain of naming children until like two weeks before, kind of the way mothers supposedly forget the pain of childbirth? How wealthy could I be if I could figure out how to market this, like a beta blocker exclusively for names? 

So, you’re here with your favourite name, but you’ve realized you have Doubt. Or, if not doubt at how awesome the name might be, doubt that it will be yours (or your daughter’s) alone. I hear you, I feel you – and yet I think you should still use it. Here’s why:

First of all, I haven’t heard Parker for girls very much – at least, not yet. As we know from this column, pop culture habits die hard, and though I have Parker Posey’s delightful book, You’re On An Airplane, on my nightstand, she may still seem too singular for people to choose the name… much. That said, this may depend on the TLC-show-consumption where you live – apparently there’s a show about a family with quintuplet girls, one of whom is Parker. 

You’re not out of the woods, though. Parker is juuust inside the top 100 for boys’ names, and you know what people love to do with boys’ names that aren’t William and George (and even then)? It may start to sound appealing to lots of people, especially those who are looking for an alternative to the massively popular sound-alike Harper. But – sing it with me – none of this matters if you really love it, and I think Parker will fit beautifully with the mini-wave of Harpers and Marlowes and Ellises of both genders. 

If it makes you crazy, though, then I think what you’re asking is which of your alternate names are most popularity-proof. I’m happy to tell you Elin tops that list – assuming you want to go with the EE-lin pronunciation, and not an alternate spelling for Ellen, you’re going to be pretty secure in singularity there, though stranger things have happened. You can further popularity-proof it by going with an alternate and one of my deep favourites, Eleni – or maybe Enid, if it floats your boat. 

Otherwise – Scarlett is popular, but not as much as it was; the Scarletts tend to be somewhere between 8 and 12 these days, along with the Lolas and Sadies who are her siblings and style-mates; you stand a decent chance of your Scarlett being the only one in her class, but a zero-percent chance that you won’t also have a Scarlett as your babysitter or gymnastics coach.  Thea is on her way up (which isn’t bad, because I love that name), though going with Dorothea or Theodora gives you a little bit more originality insurance.  

Meredith is one of those sweet-spot names that you’d think would be bigger than it is, but maybe this is a case of pop culture protecting you – I’m sure there are people who love it but don’t want to be accused of ‘naming after’ Meredith Grey, on what is now TV’s longest running medical drama in prime time. But – lest I be accused of getting soft – I am obligated to tell you I think you should go with the ‘i’ spelling; the Y will be missed more often than not, and it won’t protect your daughter from any other Merediths named the ‘original’ way, so there’s no real benefit to that Y, is there? 

Adelyn is where you need to be really careful – people LOVE A-names, and names ending in ‘lyn’ or ‘line’, so whether it’s Adeline or Ella or Dylan or Madeleine or Addison or Brooklyn, you may find she’s in a group of sound-alikes despite your best efforts. Proceed with caution. 

So. If the prospect of a popular Parker is too much for you, you might want to consider Piper or Pilar, or the woefully neglected Petra or Paisley – or Morgan or Delaney or Hadley or even Spencer (which felt perfect on a girl on the 2000s-era South Of Nowhere). But all of those names may sound like strangers next to the Parker you’ve been dreaming about all this time, so it’s about figuring out what will make you happiest, the name you’ve been dreaming about, or the name nobody else has. 

Let us know!