Alternative Baby Names—Which Do You Like Better? | Parents

alternative baby names

So this week, we’ve been spending time with an adorable girl named Charlie—but her formal name is Charlene, not the more popular Charlotte. (Charlene feels a little more unexpected, right?) So I started thinking about baby names that have a similar sound and feel, but might vary wildly in popularity.

It’s a great exercise to consider doing yourself, if you like the sound of a name but don’t like some aspect of it—it’s too popular or too offbeat, or it reminds you of that mean girl from high school. You may find that perfect name is just a few letters away from your original baby name inspiration.

So if you think that a name like Mason is a little too overplayed, you could go old-school with Martin, which is enjoying a resurgence. Or try a fresher alternative occupational name, like Sawyer or Archer.

If you’re worried that Chloe, a top 20 baby name, is too popular, you could consider Clara or Phoebe as an alternative choice. (I’m particularly in love with Clara myself at the moment!)

Tired of the Jayden/Braden/Aiden triumvirate for boys? I like names with “n” endings that have a little bite in the middle. Consider Paxton, Alden, Burton, or Macon in their place.

Love the sound of Sophia—but don’t want your daughter to be the fifth Sophia in her class? (My first-grader has FIVE Olivias in her grade, out of just 60 kids!) Try names with softer sounds like Josephine, Philomena, Sabrina, or even Saffron.

It’s also really useful if you want to name your child after someone who has a name that’s kind of out of favor at the moment. I morphed Carol into Caroline for one of my daughter’s middle names—you could honor a Jennifer with Genevieve, or a Richard with Dixon (it means son of Richard).

So, here’s your baby naming challenge: What names do you almost love enough to use? And what alternatives would you suggest?

Image: Babies by SvetlanaFedoseyeva /