Inside the world of the unique – and bizarre – baby names influencers are giving their children


Lyrics. Afternoon. Orca. Alchemy. No, these aren’t the names of some hippy pop-up café in Brooklyn, or brands for feminine hygiene products. Instead, they’re the real monikers that influencers are giving to their children – and the internet has a lot of thoughts about it.

On social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where influencers share carefully curated glimpses of their family lives, a new favourite hobby has emerged: unpacking, celebrating, and oftentimes critiquing the unusual names influencers give their babies.

Last week, Too Hot To Handle star and internet personality Francesca Farago revealed to fans the potential names that she and her fiancé, Jesse Sullivan, have picked for their soon-to-be baby. “I have been waiting to do the ‘baby names I love but won’t be using trend’ for two years now,” Farago said in a TikTok video with over 14m views. “So I wanted to make a video and talk about baby names I love. You guys can know my naming style and maybe someone will give a suggestion and that’ll be our new top favourite name.”

The names that followed, however, weren’t your average Jacks, Ashleys, Olivias, or Liams. They were nouns and adjectives ending in “-y” like Lovely and Baby, the 12 months of the year (full name “November,” nickname “Novi”), and days of the week like Sunday and Monday – though those were deemed a little bit too popular for Farago’s taste.

But Farago isn’t the only online influencer with a penchant for unique baby names. In fact, there’s a growing phenomenon of #MomsofTikTok who are bestowing their newborn babies with distinct names – ones that surely would never chart to the top of trendy baby names lists, God forbid.

Nara Smith, the final boss of influencer baby names, has divided the internet over her allegedly “trad wife” content and unique names for her three children. The 22-year-old mother of three has gained a following of more than six million TikTok users, namely for her DIY recipes for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and corn flakes cereal from scratch. Her online content especially went viral when she revealed the baby names she and her husband, fellow model Lucky Blue Smith, won’t be using for their third child.

“For reference, our kids have pretty unique names. My daughter’s name is Rumble Honey Smith and my son’s name is Slim Easy Smith,” Nara said back in December. In April, when they welcomed their third child, a girl, the parents opted for the name Whimsy Lou.

Were names always this bizarre? Surely, unique monikers have always existed. How can we forget the uproar over Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin naming their daughter Apple, or the names of Elon Musk and Grimes’ three children – X Æ A-12, Exa Dark Sideræl, and Techno Mechanicus? Mia Farrow and Woody Allen named their only biological child Satchel, after the National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, before their son adopted his middle name “Ronan” and went on to achieve Pulitzer fame.

However, much of the internet’s concerns lie in the fact that these are not “nepo babies” or children of wealthy, famous parents who are being given names like Koazy (pronounced “Cosy”), or Dingo and Cherub. While their parents may have a few million followers on social media – though, influencer livelihoods may soon be in jeopardy with a looming TikTok ban – their children will most likely grow up to be relatively normal people.

But according to baby name consultants, who assist parents in choosing the perfect name for their bundle of joy, perhaps these influencers aren’t expecting their children to become accountants, or real estate agents, or teachers at all. Really, it’s all about establishing an online brand for their child – even if they can’t even talk yet.

“In this new age of baby names, people are trying to set their kids up for a brand, to create their own personal brand. They give them names that will stand out in an Instagram handle, creating this individuality for them as they go into perhaps the same industry their parents are in,” Jessie, a baby name consultant with more than 100,000 TikTok followers, told The Independent.

“I like to believe, in my truest of heart, that these are the names that resonate with influencers for their kids. I would love to hope that, but there is always the concern with the influencer community that it’s done for the shock of it all.”

Historically, Americans simply named their children after family members. An era of naming uniformity emerged during the 1940s and 1950s, brought about by the solidarity felt after the Great Depression and World War II, according to The Atlantic. In 1955, half of all American babies born had one of just 78 names, compared to the 520 different names that babies were given in 2019.

Naming trends shifted in the ‘60s, as families became smaller and people began considering the individuality of their children. That focus on individuality only increased in the ‘90s, when the Social Security Administration began posting the most popular baby names online.

For those who aren’t in a TikTok echochamber, it’s easy to assume that practically every parent in the US is naming their babies Astrid and Onyx. Really, viral videos like Fagaro’s and Smith’s are only amplifying the idea that these unique, and sometimes absurd, names are widely popular everywhere. In reality, the most popular baby names in the US have remained unchanged for nearly 10 years.

Still, that echochamber of influencer baby names has resulted in its own niche subsect of baby naming content on TikTok. Some accounts dedicate their entire platform to sharing baby naming inspo: “old money” names (Caroline, Elizabeth, Charlotte), “main character” names (Blaze, Arrow, Falcon), or “aesthetic” names (Rowan, Wren, Atlas). Others have made careers out of predicting famous influencers’ baby names, often with alarming accuracy too.

For Emily Kim, her passion for predicting baby names for pregnant influencers has grown into a successful consulting business and more than 300,000 followers on TikTok. Since 2021, the 33-year-old Minnesota native has taken requests from fellow baby naming enthusiasts, who ask Kim to cast her guesses based on an influencer’s social media aesthetic. Her predictions are largely made in jest, focusing on the “hypothetical” names a parent may use for their child. To make her predictions, she looks to certain clues in their digital footprint, such as the names of their older children, their Instagram bio, or whether or not they raise chickens in their backyard.

“It’s fun, it’s goofy, and none of my wild ideas are going on a birth certificate,” she told The Independent. That is, until the off-chance that they actually do.

Earlier this year, Kim posted an unassuming baby name prediction for Kristin Johns, an influencer living in Tennessee. Looking at her Instagram bio – “Homemaker, Jesus, Nashville” – Kim deduced that Johns’ carefully curated social media aesthetic fell under the vein of “southern preacher’s wife”. However, it seemed that Johns, who has 673,000 followers on Instagram, didn’t appreciate being so easily pinpointed by Kim. In response, she commented “not even close” under Kim’s video and changed her Instagram bio to the more nondescript: “Sharing things that make me happy.”

The influencer’s push to disprove the “southern preacher wife” title only fired Kim’s need to make even more sweeping conclusions based on miniscule details. As a humorous way to “agree” with Johns, Kim instead predicted that her baby’s name will be that of an educated, feminist, Northern woman – with figures like Janis Ian from Mean Girls, 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon, and Amelia Earhart serving as inspiration.

When Johns posted a baby name reveal to her Instagram in February, it also became clear that in her tongue-in-cheek response, Kim had actually guessed the name of Johns’ baby correctly: Amelia.

While Kim’s video was praised as a “ruthless” take on influencer culture, she still remains dumbfounded by the entire saga to this day. “I made a baby name prediction that, to me, feels like a pretty straightforward analysis that leans neither positive nor negative,” she recalled. “I’ve never had an influencer respond with the tenacity of Kristin before.”

Johns did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

Although it may seem as if names like Wren and Sunny exist only in an influencer-filled vacuum, these consultants want critics to know that obscure baby names follow the same mainstream trend cycles we see in fashion, in interior design, and on Pinterest boards. Not only did the rise of “cottagecore” aesthetics influence women to purchase milkmaid dresses, wear their hair in pigtails, and stream Taylor Swift’s Folklore album, but it also brought about an increase in floral, nature-themed baby names – such as Ivy, Rose, Marigold, Violet, and Daisy – according to Kim.

“A reason we see certain names becoming popular in very niche communities is social media. Before the internet, you were surrounded by the names in your local community, but now we’re surrounded by everyone, everywhere, all at once,” she said. “You might be a rural Utah mom, but your phone is full of super tan, blonde, Mormon families frolicking the beaches of Hawaii if that’s what you find aspirational. Now instead of just looking at your own life experiences to guide your name decision, you’re looking at theirs.”

Indeed, social media has only heightened this phenomenon of bizarre baby names. Even influencers themselves are stuck in a filter bubble, where the most avante-garde and borderline camp baby names being shared in their online community seem commonplace. It’s not Farago’s fault that the internet thought her baby name suggestions were a joke, or that Smith’s names for her three children faced backlash online. When names like Ocean, Bear, and Cricket are the top baby names being consumed in your daily digital diet, everything stops feeling like a bold choice.

“Influencers are more likely to use unique names because their social sphere is broadened so much by their career and it feels like every unique name has already been used, when in reality they just have so many internet acquaintances,” said Kim. “There’s a feeling of: ‘I can’t use this name because so-and-so already did…’ even though so-and-so is a person you follow on Instagram and met one time at a sponsored deodorant event.”

A fear of trendiness often plagues a parent’s decision in naming their child, which is why it seems like everyone is in a competition with each other to give their baby the most unique-sounding name. Even the effort to give a child a not-so-popular name, like Ernest or Eleanor, has become a trend in and of itself. But what baby name consultants want parents to know – whether they’re internet celebrities or not – is that trends are inescapable.

“There’s this really crazy attitude towards trendiness right now. Everyone named their kid Jennifer in the ‘80s and that was a trend, but just because ours look different now it’s vilified,” said Jessie. “People are so anti-trendy names, but no matter how much we try to be different, then ‘the being different of it all’ becomes the trend.”

It goes without saying that some baby names that end up on birth certificates are just plain bad. While influencers may deserve some of the backlash they receive for giving their child an absurd name, of course it’s never the child’s fault. If there’s one thing we know about internet celebrities, it’s that they’re always willing to push the envelope – even when it comes to naming their own offspring.

But for some expecting parents – those who don’t post daily “GRWMs” to thousands of followers, yet find themselves stuck in the never-ending baby name tunnel on social media – consultants suggest sticking to the one cardinal rule of baby naming, which some influencers tend to forget: your child is a person too.

“You cannot fixate so much on what’s popular or what’s trending. If you’re hearing a name over and over again in the baby naming community, it has no reflection on its popularity; it just means you’re hearing it a lot,” said Jessie. “Choose names that you truly love and most of all, that you feel resonate with your child. Your child’s a person. At the end of the day, you’re naming a human being that’s going to go through their life with this name. Step away from the social media noise of it all.”