Nurse, parents discuss reasons, trends behind 2015 top baby names

BIG RAPIDS — With hundreds of babies born each year in the area, it can be a tough decision for parents what to name their boy or girl.

Each year, staff at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital compile the top 10 most popular baby names for girls and boys born at the facility. Five hundred and ninety babies were born in Big Rapids this year; 238 female and 307 male.

Name trends definitely come and go, according to Deb Bush, a nurse in the birthing center at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital.

"Twenty to 25 years ago we saw a lot of Jessica, Sarah, Ashley and Amanda for girls, and for boys there seemed to be a big trend with the 'J' names, like Justin, Jason and Joshua," Bush said. "Over the past 10 years we have seen a lot of boys named Aiden, Caden, Braden, Jaden and Hayden."

Bush said most parents have a name chosen before the baby is born, but sometimes parents can't decide right away.

"Some have a list of names to choose from and want to see the baby before making a final decision," she said. "Occasionally we see parents who just haven't come up with any ideas at all or change their minds at the last minute. Some choose not to share the name with family and friends because they don't want to hear their opinion, or don't want someone to 'steal' their name."

Sean and Amanda Wethington, of Big Rapids, chose a more unique name for their newborn daughter: Berkeley. She was the only baby born at the hospital to be named Berkeley in 2015, and was born on Nov. 25.

"We began watching the show 'Parenthood,' and the things the families were going through touched home for both of us. They all live in Berekely, Calif., and they work and go to school in Berkeley, so we thought we'd go with that if we had a girl," Amanda said. "We didn't know if we were having a boy or girl, but her name came from watching that show."

The couple also chose a non-traditional name for their 4-year-old son, Barrett.

Sean admitted it was very difficult to choose a name for each of their children. The topic was something they discussed for months, he said, and they often went back and forth on names, sometimes consulting the internet for ideas.

"I like the non-traditional names," Sean added. "I think uniqueness is important. We didn't tell anyone the names we chose for Barrett and Berkeley, either, until they were born."

Amanda agreed.

"I don't think I'd go with a traditional name," she said. "There are so many new names out there. I like that Berkeley's name is unique. We tried to pick a name we thought no one had."

Though it doesn't happen often, once in a while parents wait longer than usual to name their child. Bush said years ago a couple took their newborn daughter home before naming her because they wanted to see her personality before choosing a name.

Some parents chose a more popular name, but add their own twist. Other times names of importance are added.

"Some parents prefer to choose a very unusual name or to spell the name in a unique way," Bush added. "Often a name is chosen for the origin or meaning of the name.

"There is still a trend to name the baby after a close friend or family member. Sometimes we see babies with two middle names to include multiple important members of the family."

Both Wethington children have middle names paying tribute to family members.

"I wanted Barrett to have my dad's middle name of Michael," Amanda said. "It was important to me to incorporate a family name in our own family."

In 2015, top girls names were:

1. Anna/Annabelle/Annalease

2. Ava

3. Natalie/Natalia

4. Sophie/Sophia

5. Elizabeth

6. Adalyn

7. Abigail

8. Elaina/Alaina

9. Aria/Arya

10. Mia/Mya

The top 10 boys names in 2015 were:

1. Mason

2. Hunter

3. Jackson/Jaxon

4. Liam

5. Carter

6. Eli/Elijah

7. Luke/Lucas

8. Ryder/Ryker

9. Carson

10. Noah