How to choose a rare and unusual baby name

Photo: Annette Bunch/Getty
Photo: Annette Bunch/Getty 

You're wanting a rare baby name that no-one else has, right?

The key thing to remember when beginning your search for 'the one' is that thousands of other parents are doing exactly the same thing; searching for that one rare gem that ticks all the right boxes and sets their baby apart from the rest.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a rare and unusual name for your baby, but you need to be armed with a toolkit.

This ensures you not only find one you love, but that you also know it's rare out there in the real world.

Here's what you need to do to find that name that's just perfect for your unique bub.

1. Look at the top 100 and ignore them all

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If rare and unusual is what you're after, then stay well away from any name in the top 100. Many a parent has used a long time favourite name assuming it's rare, only to find five other kids with the same name when their child gets to preschool.

Know the top baby names and you'll know all about what everyone else is naming their babies. We publish the top 100 in March or April each year.

You can also check the top baby names for boys and girls by state (some states don't go all the way to 100):

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New South Wales (top 100)
Victoria (top 100)
Queensland (top 100)
South Australia (top 50)
Western Australia (top 60)
Northern Territory (top 20)
Tasmania (top 100+)



2. Use a baby name generator

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Behold the magic of the internet. Never before have we had so many resources to find a baby name and there are sites built especially to find you a name in your preferred style.

If you have a name you already like, or have an existing child or two already, simply plug in their names, and the generator will come up with a list of suggestions. Genius. Here are some of the best name generators:


3. Consult your family tree

Chances are, if you heritage is anglo, your family tree will be composed mainly of Sarahs, Williams and Elizabeths. If you have Latino ancestry, you'll be finding lots of examples of Carlos, Juan and Maria.

Dig as deep as you can if you have access to your family's genealogy and you might find some unusual gems just ripe for the re-picking all these generations later. I found a lady called Philadelphia on mine, which led me to add Delphine to my girl list.


4. Love a popular name? Choose an alternative spelling

It's a technique loved by many and equally loathed by others. If you love the name but don't love how popular it is, then spelling it differently might give it a certain cachet.

We don't always mean making up your own spelling either. There are many legitimate alternative spellings for popular names.

If you love the name Christopher, then there's Christoph, Christos, Kit and Kester - all legit alternatives.

5. Choose a theme

Perhaps you'd like a name which means 'happy' or you'd like a name with Italian flavour. Many online resources group names by theme.

Make sure to check out Essential Baby's extensive baby name resource centre where you'll find lots of lists categorised by heritage and theme.

6. Scour the internet for original names created by others

Some of our readers posted their ideas on a Facebook thread about an unusually-spelt name:

"We loved the name "Hunter" but felt it was a little too plain and changed it to the German version, 'Jaeger'."

"My name is Kaehla (pronounced Kayla). My mum hated Kay and didn't want my name to be shortened to that so spelled it differently."

"My daughters name is Tavia. I liked Octavia but just felt it was too classical for us so we shortened it! We pronounce it Tah-via though."

"Colt as in baby horse . It was a nickname we gave my belly during pregnancy . One night my partner joked I was his brood mare and he the stallion . 

It was a joke ..... Now my son is named Colt"

"When naming our daughter I told my husband to pick something that had an easy spelling, no crazy nicknames, and was not in the top 10 list for the last 10 years. I had the same rules for my current pregnancy. We are proud parents to Stella Claire and soon to be Silas. "

"I loved Paisley but it was way too popular here so we chose Haisley!"