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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Baby Jack or Savannah

Rana writes:
We just found out we're pregnant with our first child and need some help with names!!!

My husband and I both LOVE Savannah for a girl and Jack for a boy. But I want to consider other names that are maybe a bit less popular, while he is absolutely convinced we should use Savannah and Jack!

Here is our name list.

Savannah Grace - both ADORE
Estella Grace - I absolutely LOVE this name, husband does not, but can be convinced
Ellary Grace nn Ella - again I love, husband not so much
Lilliana Grace nn Lilly- we both like this a lot too but is it too popular? Also, our puppy's name is Tilly!
Noella Grace - I like this more every time I say it, my husband doesn't like the No part of the name!

Jack Benjamin - both ADORE this, but I'm afraid its so popular
Benjamin ? - we can't seem to find a middle name for this ?
Augustin - I love this my husband thinks its strange!
Charleston nn Charlie - We both like this a lot, is it too strange though? Wdyt of it?

How much should we take popularity into account and what do you think of the above names, individually and compared to each other???
Any more suggestions based on our styles?

Thank you so much for your help!

This is an enviable situation: both parents are agreeing on two names they both love.

I would not worry about popularity, if I were you. No, no: stop worrying about it. These are the names you like best. Even if you liked Isabella best (that's the most popular girl name in the U.S. according to the Social Security Administration), I would still push you to use it and not to worry about the popularity: at #1, it's still only used for 1.17% of baby girls---or about 1 girl named Isabella per 5 or 6 classrooms (assuming 15 girls per class). That's not too bad. It'll vary a bit: the statistics are national, and some areas might have almost no Isabellas, which makes other areas more Isabella-rich. Maybe an area would have six times the national average of Isabellas---or one whole Isabella per class.

See also: Even the Top 10 is Not Necessarily the Kiss of Death.

But the name you like is not Isabella, it's Savannah! That was #46 (and falling) in 2010, given to .2736% of baby girls born that year. That's approximately one Savannah per 25 classrooms. Barely popular at all!

Jack is a little harder to track: many boys are given other names and then CALLED Jack. We can estimate a little:
  • .42% of baby boys named Jack in 2010,
  • plus .56% of baby boys named John, of which some percentage is called Jack,
  • plus .58% of baby boys named Jackson, of which some percentage is called Jack.
Let's go for worst-case scenario, in which ALL the baby boys named John and Jackson are in fact called Jack. We know this isn't the case, but it'll show us that the actual percentage resides at some point BETTER (i.e., lower) than that, and it will also help compensate for all the little boys who are called Jack but don't fall into one of our categories above (for example, I know a little boy whose name is Richard John, but he's a IV and he's called Jack). In our worst-case scenario where all the Johns and Jacksons are called Jack, approximately 1.55% of boys in the U.S. would be called Jack---or one Jack per four or five classrooms (again, assuming 15 boys per class). And that's IF there are way more Jacks than there actually are, so the actual situation is BETTER (i.e., fewer Jacks) than that.

Use the names you love! They are not too popular! But of course it's a little disappointing to have the names chosen so early when it's so much fun to keep looking! Susannah/Susanna is similar to Savannah but virtually unused---and with cute nicknames. I love Sukie as this generation's Susie, but don't underestimate the vintage charm of calling a little girl Susie Q. And if you like Jack and Benjamin, I wonder if you'd like Jonathan, nickname Jon?

Now, as to what I think of the other names on your list and your style overall, I have the advice for you that I give to all first-time baby-namers: try to figure out now which names on your list are your actual style and which names are outliers you happen to like even though they don't fit your usual style; and see if any names you're considering would rule out any of the other names you're considering (different styles, duplicate sounds/initials, wildly different levels of popularity).

If you have a boy and name him Jack, will that rule out the name Charleston for you later on because of it being such a different style and so much less common? Or will it be fine because you'll mostly call him Charlie, which is pretty much a perfect-beyond-perfection brother name for Jack? If you have a baby girl this time and name her Savannah, will that make you feel like you couldn't use Lilliana later, since they both end in the same sound? If you used Estella this time, would you not want to use Ellary next time because of the repeated initial and ella sound in both? And so on.

It isn't that you MUST give your children compatible names---not at all. It's only that if you would LIKE to give them compatible names, this is the moment you are setting your course. We all have names we like that fall outside our usual style (I think of them as "I hope someone I love will use it for THEIR baby!" names), and the trick is to identify those names before inadvertently locking yourself into finding sibling names for them.


Janelle said...

I completely agree with Swistle-- use the names you love! I don't personally know any children named Savannah or Jack (all the little girls near me are called Eliana). I think sometimes the popularity perception goes up thanks to the Internet. You know, how you might not personally come into contact with kids who have that name, but four of your Facebook friends, blah blah blah. And that's understandable if you think about how you might have similar naming tastes as your friends.

At any rate, Savannah Grace and Jack Benjamin are both fantastic choices.

One caution: Much as I like Charleston, I would not use it for a boy with a sister Savannah. To me they are so clearly Southern place names that you'll get people asking about sister Charlotte or brother Raleigh.

Trina said...

I've commented before about this. My daughter's name is Hannah born in 2005. It was in the top 10 (I think even in the top 5). I had no idea. She goes to an elementary school with 800 kids. She is the ONLY Hannah in the entire school.

Please use the names you love. You won't regret it.

StephLove said...

I agree. Go with the names you love (and agree on--how lucky is that?). If it was me, I'd use John Benjamin (nn Jack) but it's not me, it's you.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I think that Jack and Savannah are both lovely names! Go for it!

Kacie said...

You're in a great position -- lovely names that you both love! Use them!

What about throwing some of your other options in the middle name slot, to make it stand out a little more and also to use a name that you love but maybe can't convince hubby to use as a first?

For example, I like Savannah Ellary or Jack Charleston or Jack Augustin.

In the chance you find another little boy Jack, I doubt he would also have a middle name of Augustin or Charleston.

For Savannah, I don't think Estella would work so much in the middle because of the repeating "ah" sound at the end, but what about Savannah Estelle?

e said...

Yes yes, use the names you love!

We have a jack and a Charlie (and a Sam!) glad you agree that they are "the perfect beyond perfect brother names." :)

Kas said...

I love both Savannah and Jack they are both beautiful names and its great you both agree on them!! I dont know a single Savannah! I have come across a few Jack's but not heaps!

I have an Ava and her name is every where but it doesnt bother me and i wouldnt change it!!

Use the names you love!! congrats and all the best!! x

Patricia said...

Savannah Grace or Jack Benjamin -- fine names, no matter where they rank in current popularity. You both love them, and I can't think of any reason not to use them.

However, if you want to consider similar names that are less popular, here are some ideas. A baby name stylist has put together lists of alternate names for the SSA Top 100 names each year for the past three years. For Savannah she has suggested three names capturing the Southern style of the name:


However, I immediately thought of Susanna (or Susannah) as closest to the sound and rhythm of Savannah without the popularity. Neither spelling of Susanna(h) ranked in the 2010 SSA Top 1000. Susanna Grace would be lovely too. My daughter Susanna goes by the full name -- and much prefers that, but recently I've noticed "Zanna" suggested as a nn for Susanna, and in Europe, Sanna is sometimes used as the nn.

Alternates that have been suggested for Jack are:
Max -- which made the Top 1000 in 2010

Some other alternates could be Jay, Jasper, Frank, Mark.

But I'd stick with Jack. It's a great name -- all boy, classic. Swistle's excellent analysis shows that even if all the boys named Jack, Jackson or John in 2010 are called "Jack", no more than 1.55% of the boys born in the U.S. last year answer to that name. (I haven't met any young boys named John who are called Jack and very much doubt that most of the boys named John are called Jack.)

You and your husband BOTH LOVE the names Savannah and Jack. Neither name is so popular that your daughter or son will meet lots of children with the same name. Use the names you love -- I don't think you'll ever regret that.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

I never comment, but I had to comment on this one because this was me back in January. Our Jack was born the beginning of April. I worried so much about it being too popular, but I listened to Swistle's previous posts about popularity really not being an issue and she was right. My baby was Jack - as soon as we learned we were having a boy, he was Jack and I couldn't imagine calling him anything else. We still went back through all the baby books to try to find a something else less popular that we liked just as much, but couldn't find anything. Now that he is here, we only get positive comments about his name and you will not believe how many comments about how unusual a name or "we haven't heard that name in such a long time." We live in North Carolina, so it could be different where you live, but there aren't any other Jacks in his daycare. All that to say - go with what you love.

Joanne said...

I think you should use the name that you love, sure, but what about using a name that I love? Ha! Kidding! Seriously, have you thought about using Benjamin John and *calling* him Jack? I think Benjamin goes nicely with Charleston and with Savannah, too. I also really like using a full name for a name and a nickname for a nickname but that could just be me. I'm glad you all are in agreement and have such a wealth to choose from! Congratulations and best of luck!