GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) The list of popular boys’ names underwent more changes in 2016 than an infant’s diapers.
Seven new names popped up in the top 10―including one with presidential gravitas.
Take a bow, James, William, Elijah, Lincoln, Jack and Charles. You elbowed aside some of last year’s favorites: Oliver, Carter, Jackson, Noah, Owen, Henry and Grayson.
The Top 10 Baby Names List released each year by the Family Birthplace at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital provides a glimpse into changing trends in naming newborns. The hospital delivers more babies than any other in Michigan―7,463 so far this year.
The favorites, of course, vary each year, but rarely does a list undergo the kind of reshuffling seen with the boys’ list this year.
Far less movement occurred on the girls’ list. Only two new names scooted onto the chart: Nora and Abigail. And these girls are hardly newcomers. They made the list in 2014.
The biggest name game-changer of the year is Lincoln. The last name of the 16th president of the United States has gained traction as a boy’s first name―ranking No. 7 at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. Nationally, it ranks 39th, according to babycenter.com.
Top baby names
Girl names in 2016:
Boy names in 2016:
Girl names in 2015:
Boy names in 2015:
That’s the peak of popularity for the Lincoln, which means “lithe.” The name has always been in the mix, however.
It has waxed and waned in popularity over the years, always landing in the top 1,000, according to the Social Security Administration, which provides records dating back to 1900.
Most of the little Lincolns are boys. But some parents have bestowed the name on daughters, as well, most notably actress Kristin Bell. Lincoln ranked No. 990 for girls born in 2016, according to babycenter.com.
On both top 10 lists, longtime favorites ruled in the No. 1 spot: Olivia for the girls and Liam for the boys.
But each baby’s name, regardless of where it falls on a list, has its own story, as unique as each individual child.
Lincoln and Maverick
Little Lincoln Kutzli snoozed contentedly in his mother’s arms, unaware that he sported a popular name. “My husband said, ‘Is he going to be a future president?’” Jenelle Kutzli said.
While they like the connection with Abraham Lincoln, she and her husband, Russ, aren’t history buffs, Kutzli said. She’s not sure where she got the idea for her little boy’s name. They had considered it for their 2½-year-old son, but named him Maverick instead.
When they found out they had another boy on the way, they immediately knew he would be Lincoln. “I guess we just like it as a classic, strong name,” she said.
Asked if they would call him a nickname, like Link, or go with the full name of Lincoln, Kutzli smiled. “His brother already has named him Stinkin’ Lincoln,” she said.
Marisa Mier sat in a rocking chair and cradled her tiny daughter, Emma, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Popularity didn’t factor into the name she chose. She thought more about the many loving women in her baby girl’s family. Emma’s name includes an E to honor two great grandmothers (Eva and Emmaline), and an M for her mom (Marisa).
The letter A honors Mier’s stepmother, April. And Emma’s middle name, Jo, comes from Mier’s mother, Tina Jo. “I tried to pick as much of the family as I could,” Mier said. “She’s got a lot of people looking forward to meeting her.”
Emma’s big brothers, 5-year-old Dakota and 2-year-old Darin, eagerly anticipate the day their little sister can come home. “The first thing they say when they see her is, ‘She’s so cute,’” Mier said.
Emma, who arrived a few weeks early, was born Nov. 23, weighing 4 pounds, 4 ounces. She is learning to eat on her own, growing stronger and gaining weight. She now weighs over 5 pounds.
“I hope she’ll be home for Christmas,” Mier said.
Mason and Maliki Chappell snuggled in their mother’s arms two days after birth. Cora Chappell looked forward to bringing the twins home to join the rest of the family, which includes Nicholas, 17; Andrew, 13; Anna, 8; and Mia, 16 months.
Her son Andrew came up with the idea for Mason’s name. He wanted a name that started with M, like his little sister Mia’s.
Chappell chose the name Maliki, so the three little ones will share the M-sound. Andrew held Maliki as his mother dressed Mason for the trip home. Told that Mason’s name was in the top 10 (ranked No. 6), Andrew smiled.
“That’s cool,” he said.
William VanderMolen slept in his mother’s arms, while his triplet brothers, Harrison and Ivan, snuggled in their bassinets in the NICU.
Only William’s name landed in the top 10 this year (ranked No. 4). That’s fine with Julie VanderMolen. She and her husband, John, chose William’s name to honor her father, Lloyd William.
“That was one of the first names we decided on,” she said. She wasn’t surprised to see Lincoln make the top 10, she added. She knows several children with that name. In general, she likes the list of popular boys’ names.
“They are all nice, classic names,” she said.