The new year has started with a bang! The birth announcements have been full of rare names and surprising choices. In a few weeks, we’ll see more traditional names in the mix, but for the moment, it’s easy to believe that parents are putting tradition in the past to embrace modern names with relatively limited histories of use. Scroll on for nine creative baby names that might just start 2016’s biggest baby name trends.


1. Ace Wells: Kandi Burruss joined The Real Housewives of Atlanta in season two, and has been with the show ever since. The singer-songwriter and husband Todd Tucker welcomed their son, Ace Wells, last week. Ace joins Kandi’s teenaged daughter, Riley. Ace is a defining name that is starting to feel mainstream. With the “s” ending, middle name Wells feels equally on trend.

2. Brax Brandon: Max and Jax have been huge in recent years, and actor Dax Shepard boosted his unusual given name too. Now Names for Real has spotted a Brax Brandon. His name appears in the same roundup as Jack Valentine and Lux Payton. From the classic to the invented, parents love those short names for boys. Nearly 100 boys have been named Brax since 2010.

3. Cruz Achille: ABC News correspondent Mara Schiavocampo and husband Tommie Porter are now parents to a second child. Cruz joins big sister Nina Isabella. Both names have a certain global appeal: a mix of Spanish, Italian and French. Achille honors Mara’s grandfather. Cruz has ranked in the US Top 300 for the last three years, a once unusual choice that now feels very current in 2016.

4. Hodge William: Hodge fits the short, modern names for boys trend perfectly, and yet this Names for Real find is truly old school. Hodge first emerged as a nickname for Roger in medieval England. The noble Roger has been fading since the end of the Mad Men era. And while we wouldn’t count out a future Roger revival, nickname-form Hodge feels more interesting today.

5. Chosen Sebastian: NFL quarterback Cam Newton and girlfriend Kia Proctor recently gave this lots-to-live-up-to name to a son. The couple kept the pregnancy and birth quiet, and have yet to comment on their unusual name choice. However, the Carolina Panthers player has been vocal about his faith, so it may be that Chosen has a spiritual meaning, putting this name in the same category as Bodhi and Messiah.

6. Rey, Finn and Poe: Yes, we’re talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens names again. This time, it’s because they were voted Fictional Character Names of the Year by the American Name Society. One of the arguments in favor of the trio’s triumph? Their likely impact on what we will name our children in the years to come.

7. Love Lily: Preston Brust, of country music duo LoCash, is a new dad! The singer-songwriter and wife Kristen welcomed daughter Love Lily last week. Love has a long history of occasional use as a given name, but has been climbing lately. In 2014, 127 girls were named Love, along with 12 boys. Terrence Howard welcomed son Qirin Love in 2015. Could it also be a nod to dad’s biggest single? LoCash’s Top Ten hit, I Love This Life, recently became the duo’s most successful release to date.

8. Clio: Speaking of obscure names that could be set to climb, Clio is the name of one of the main characters in Aidan Donnelly Rowley’s new novel, The Ramblers. It’s not exactly another Star Wars, but that almost makes it better. It could be just enough exposure for this ancient o-ending girls’ name to join Willow, Margot and Harlow in the US Top 1000.

9. Winter: Speaking of Willow, is this seasonal choice the hottest nature name for girls? In fairytale-inspired YA sensation The Lunar Chronicles, Winter is an updated version of Snow White. It’s also the name of interior designer Brittany Hayes’ younger daughter. The Hayes family home was recently featured on Design Mom’s Living with Kids series. That’s about as stylish as it gets!

What unique baby name would you add to this list? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

This was originally published on Nameberry by Abby Sandel. Photo via Getty