Mums adore ‘guilty pleasure’ baby names but feel they’re not ‘cool enough’ to use


A baby name expert has revealed that parents often feel they aren’t “cool enough” to use her list of unusual “guilty pleasure” names. SJ Strum, 43, is a pro at naming babies and often shares new baby name trends for inspiration.

She recently asked mums on Instagram what their “guilty pleasure” names were — these are bold names that parents love but don’t feel brave enough to give their child.

More than 7,000 mums answered the poll, revealing some unexpected favourites like Honey and Calliope for girls, and Wilder and Atlas for boys.

SJ, a mum-of-three from Richmond, Surrey, said: “People want a name that’s not popular, but everyone likes it. People think ‘Am I cool enough to call my child a daring name?’ But on the playground, children are used to kids having more unique names. Just because a name is less used doesn’t mean it’s less liked.”

READ MORE: Sophisticated baby names set to be popular in 2024 – including ‘timeless’ picks

SJ believes that Honey might become more popular thanks to English broadcaster Fearne Cotton, who used the sweet nickname. She also thinks Calliope would be more common but people avoid it as they “know it might be mispronounced.”

Other less common names for girls included “whimsical” names such as Tallulah, Tigerlily, Lavender and Clover. For boys, other top choices were Ziggy, Rex, Cosmo, Peregrine, Chase, Wulfric — shortened to Wolfie — and Ernest.

If parents are hesitant about using a name because it’s more unusual, they could choose it as a middle name instead, SJ suggests.

She said: “With the middle name, you can be a bit braver. You don’t have to say it, and it’s not asked often, but you’ll know it’s there. If you use it as a first name or a middle name, you’ll always love it. If you throw it away, ask yourself – will you regret it?”

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In 2023, the top girls’ baby names were:

  1. Olivia
  2. Amelia
  3. Isla
  4. Lily
  5. Ava
  6. Freya
  7. Ivy
  8. Sophia
  9. Grace
  10. Willow

In 2023, the top boys’ names were:

  1. Muhammad
  2. Noah
  3. Theo
  4. Leo
  5. Oliver
  6. Arthur
  7. George
  8. Luca
  9. Freddie
  10. Jack


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