Have we reached peak baby name? Tank? Afternoon? Flick? Orca?

June 17, 2024

After the birth this spring of her third child, a baby girl named Whimsy Lou, the lifestyle influencer Nara Smith posted a TikTok listing some of the names she and her husband liked but did not ultimately use. Among them were Tank, Clementine, Flick, Halo and Dew, reports The New York Times.

Francesca Farago, a reality television star, posted a similar video recently—including names like Heart, Ethereal, Prosper, and Afternoon. Her husband also liked the name Orca, she says. (But she vetoed naming her child after a killer whale.)

Baby names have come a long way since Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin made headlines for naming their daughter Apple two decades ago. In 2024, almost anything can be a name. A recent TikTok trend seems to offer a satirical critique of just how out there some parents are willing to go in search of unique names for their progeny.

The joke setup goes like this: “Normalize naming your kid after something you love.” Users respond with something hyper-specific that they would probably never actually name a child, like Diet Coke, Velveeta, or “cheeky bit of work gossip.”

Emily Kim, a full-time baby name consultant, said the trend seems like a direct response to “how extreme” baby naming has become.

Kim, who is 33 and lives in Minneapolis, made a name for herself on TikTok thanks to her uncanny knack for predicting what celebrities and influencers will name their children based on their Internet aesthetics. Last year, she correctly guessed what the football player Jason Kelce and his wife, Kylie, would name their third daughter, Bennett. (Kim said she knew it would be a traditionally male name, given the Kelces’ two other daughters were named similarly.)

Naming a child, Kim explains, has become for many people an extension of personal branding.

“A baby name is just one facet of your personal style, in the same way home décor and clothing is part of your style,” Ms. Kim says. “In our parents’ day, the elements of your personal style were known by your close friends and maybe your neighbors, your family, but your style wasn’t showcased on a larger scale to acquaintances and strangers in the way that is the norm now.”

Kim’s consultations start at $295 for a five-minute session in which she shares her personalized suggestions. During the sessions, the most common request she hears is for names that are “unique but not too out there.” The clients don’t want their children to arrive on the first day of school only to find they are one of five in the class with the same name, she explained. (Looking at you here, Emilys of the world.)

That access to a wider pool of people via social media has made many of her clients feel as if certain names are off limits “because they’ve already been ‘used,’ even though it’s by someone you don’t really know,” Kim said.

Morgan Kline, another baby name consultant, got her start on TikTok sourcing vintage-sounding names from old yearbooks. She specializes in finding “uncommon names,” says Kline, who is 29 and lives in Rock Island, Illinois. “A lot of people hire me to find a name that was only used, like, less than 25 times last year.”

Recently Kline helped a client land on the name Woods.

Like Kim, Kline says personal branding often played a role for clients when selecting a baby name. “I think especially that’s true for people in the public eye,” she said. “Certain influencers really want to make sure their kid has a one-of-a-kind name in case they also want to follow in the entertainment industry in some way.”

As for the recent joke trend, Ms. Kline says she could even see some of the joke names being selected for by real people—like “Mocha,” one creative TikToker’s idea.

“I could definitely see the right person actually using that as a name,” Kline says.

Research contact: @nytimes