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What Is the Trendiest Baby Name in American History?

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What is the trendiest baby name in American history? Jayden? Madison? Khaleesi?

The answer might not sound so trendy to you: Linda.

Quantifying trendiness is tricky, since there's no universally accepted way to calculate how much of a fad a name was. But according to researcher David Taylor, Linda may very well be the trendiest name ever. Taylor devised a metric for trendiness that takes into account overall popularity as well as steepness of a name’s rise and fall. So while Mary was very, very popular, it was popular over a long time period, and therefore not trendy. And while Deneen had a huge quick spike in popularity over a few years in the 1960s, it never accounted for a very high percentage of names even at its peak.

In 2015, just .022 percent of all female births in the U.S. were Lindas. But in 1947, it had the largest yearly rise ever, accounting for 5.48 percent of all baby girls’ names. This sudden meteoric rise was due to the wild success of one hit single: a 1946 Jack Lawrence song named, appropriately, "Linda."

"Linda" was written in 1942, but only released in 1946, later nearing the top of the Billboard Juke Box Record Plays charts in 1947. The song was written about then-1-year-old Linda Louise Eastman, later known as Linda McCartney.

Linda peaked in popularity as a baby name a year later in 1948, and it would remain in the top 5 names for girls through 1963. However, by 1954, Linda had already declined to be around half as popular as it was at its peak, having been overtaken at number 1 by Mary, the name it had replaced at the top.

For the historically curious, it can be a fun exercise to go through baby name fads to try and discover what led to a name's rise in popularity. Another high profile example from pop culture is the name Shirley, spurred on by the child actress Shirley Temple. Shirley peaked as a baby name in 1935. Like Linda, it didn’t take long for it to decline in popularity.

Going by Taylor’s metric, all but one of the top 10 trendiest names of all time were girl's names. The only top 10 name from male births is Dewey, with peak years at the end of the 19th century. By whatever measure, it does seem to be the case that popular names given to female babies tend to be more ephemeral. A recent compilation of 30 baby name fads by MooseRoots was also mainly names given to girls.

According to a 2009 PNAS study by marketing professor Jonah Berger, this rise-and-fall behavior may actually be the norm and not the exception: "Most names show a period of almost consistent increase in popularity, followed by a decline that leads to abandonment." Berger’s analysis found that what made names differ is "how quickly their popularity rises and declines." Berger examined rates of rise and decline, and found that names which became popular faster tended to be abandoned faster as well. Berger also surveyed expectant parents on their attitudes about baby names. Names that gained quick popularity tended to give parents pause. They were "seen as more likely to be short-lived fads," thereby making parents less likely to adopt them.

Will there be another name like Linda? No and yes. The days when any one name could achieve 5 percent popularity for baby girls seem to be long gone. Top names for girls now hover at around 1 percent, indicative of a much greater overall diversity—and a hesitation to get on a really popular naming bandwagon.

But will parents seek out new names en masse only for those to fall out of favor shortly thereafter? Absolutely. Just as Britney and Miley have declined in recent years, so now Arya and Aria are seeing a bit of Game of Thrones-fueled growth (helped along by the show Pretty Little Liars). What new name will emerge from 2016? Don’t be surprised if a good amount of parents watching Stranger Things this year decide to name their baby girls Eleven.

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Courtesy Cleveland Clinic
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This Just In
This 90-Year-Old Has Knitted More Than 2000 Hats for Newborn Babies
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Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

Since 2009, 90-year-old Barbara Lowe has been a fixture at Hillcrest Hospital outside Cleveland, but she's not a patient. Almost a decade ago, the Mayfield Heights, Ohio, resident took it upon herself to begin knitting tiny hats for newborn babies delivered at Hillcrest, and has now delivered 2252 hats and counting, according to ABC News.

Lowe lives in a senior living complex across the street from the hospital, so it was an easy jump to go from whipping up hats for the children of her family and friends to delivering teeny headgear to the maternity ward.

Seven pastel knit caps lie on a wooden table.
Courtesy Cleveland Clinic

Using fine baby yarns, Lowe makes ribbed hats with a brim and a detachable flower, spending around four hours on each one. They come in a variety of pastel colors. Lowe is known around town for her work with the hospital, and the manager at the Michaels store she buys her supplies from gives her a discount on the yarn she uses for hospital caps.

"It's my therapy," Lowe told ABC News. "When you're 90, you've got aches and pains. You don't want to think about it. Well, you're not thinking about it if you're concentrating on what you're doing."

Lowe learned to crochet and sew as a child, and later taught herself to knit. She considers it a "dream" to be able to give back to her community by gifting the hats to new parents and their bundles of warm-headed joy. According to the hospital, the hats do more than just keep babies toasty after their first bath—they provide a teaching opportunity to help new parents learn how to keep their babies feeling warm, as a hospital official told Cleveland.com.

[h/t ABC News]

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Live Smarter
Thousands of Child Car Seats Are Recalled: Here's How to Pick a Safe Seat
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This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the baby product manufacturer Graco would be recalling 25,000 My Ride 65 infant car seats; the seat's harness webbing, they found, might not adequately restrain a child in the event of an accident. If your model number is included in the recall, you can contact Graco for a replacement harness kit.

Although child seat recalls are infrequent occurrences, the NHTSA announcement highlights the need for some best practices for parents when shopping for and maintaining an infant car seat for their child.

Removable seats are typically used from the time a child is born until the age of 7, although some children between the ages of 4 and 7 might be able to graduate to a booster seat that aligns their body properly with adult-size seat belts in vehicles. For children under 3, seats that face the rear of the vehicle provide the maximum amount of security. As they grow, a forward-facing seat incorporates a harness and tether to limit movement. (Some seats are convertible, which allows you to switch from a rear- to forward-facing position at the appropriate time. Manufacturers provide height and weight limits for seats that will guide you.)

Installing a child seat can often be a source of stress for parents who are concerned they might have missed something, but there’s help for that, too: The NHTSA has an online search tool to find vehicle inspectors who can look at the seat and make sure it’s situated properly in a given make and model of vehicle. Generally, the units are tethered in the back by seat belts or seat anchors provided by the car manufacturer and are fitted with straps that fit snugly but not too tightly.

While you usually replace your car seat when your child outgrows it, not everyone knows that car seats come with expiration dates that signal the need to retire the equipment. That’s because exposure to heat and cold can degrade the plastics and other materials used.

Finally, registering the seat with the manufacturer will ensure that any possible recalls or safety issues—like Graco's—will come to your immediate attention. According to the NHTSA, most car seat owners don’t bother with this. That’s a mistake. For your child’s safety, taking a few minutes to register your model could potentially offset serious injury down the road.

[h/t CNN]

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