name interview: Juniper (syzygy.blue)

When I was telling you how to name a baby, I mentioned that I know more children 5 and under named Juniper than any other name, even though it’s not actually that popular overall. I was very interested in this sort of niche popularity that Juniper has, so I interviewed the parents of one of the Junipers I know about how and why they chose that name for their daughter. The questions were mostly answered by Meggie, Juniper’s mother, with some input from Nick, Juniper’s father.

Quick facts

Name: Juniper

Name pronunciation: joo-nih-pur

Birth year range: 2018-2023

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Name popularity: In the US, Juniper was the #138 name for female babies born in 2021, with 1981 births (there were also 38 male Junipers)(1, 2). Name data is much harder to come by in Canada: there’s no official national data, and provinces and territories differ in what data they release and how often. In British Columbia, which has one of the best government name data pages I’ve ever seen, there were 38 Junipers in 2021, making it the #87 name for female babies that year. In Ontario, there were 33 Junipers born in 2019. In Quebec, Juniper ranked #1290 for female babies in 2021 (3 births). Juniper did not make it into the name data for any other province (all of which release fewer names), and I was so annoyed at the state of name data in Canada that I did not check the territories.

Despite the patchy data, I think we can conclude that Juniper is increasing rapidly in popularity across anglophone North America.

Full name: Juniper’s middle name is Rose, which is after her paternal grandmother. We actually didn’t remember until after we named Juniper that her grandmother’s one other granddaughter also has the middle name Rose after her. Glad we forgot because we love the names together and the chance to honour her grandmother. 

Juniper’s last name is my husband’s name. We talked about that a bit but it wasn’t a big discussion. I do not have my husband’s last name. 

Interview

How did the name Juniper first come up? Who suggested it? 

Juniper came up in early discussions of future kid’s names, well before we were married or concretely thinking about having children. Nick suggested it as a name he really liked. He doesn’t remember hearing it anywhere and we hadn’t heard of any other Junipers at the time. 

Did you like the name right away? Were there any hesitations or downsides? 

I liked it but wasn’t as sure as Nick. I hadn’t heard of it as a name and I thought it might be a little out there or didn’t sound like a name at first. I did search nameberry and some other sites and saw that it was in the top 200 in the US, so not super popular but also not unheard of, which I was happy with. 

What other names did you consider?

Girl: Elliott, Abigail, Hazel, Phoebe, Sage, Lane, Rory, Violet, Willow

Boy: Kenzie, Felix, Noah, Theo, Harrison, Quinn, Graham, Linden, Ewan, Rory

We didn’t know the sex of our baby until she was born, so we were thinking about names for boys as well. We hadn’t found any boys’ names we really liked by the time she came (a little early), so, not sure what we would have done there. Or rather, most of the boys’ names I really liked were very popular names and I didn’t want to pick a name that a lot of other people would have (e.g. Noah, Theo). 

I had a Google doc with names I liked and things we were thinking about. Mostly I added names and then any that Nick hated I removed.

For girl names, I really liked nature inspired names and there were so many names out there that I loved. Nick’s last name is two syllables and ends with a T and so there were lots of names that didn’t work when we said them out loud. For example, Elliott is a family name that I loved, but does not sound good with his last name. Nick thought some of the other names were ok, but was very set on Juniper. 

Describe what you like about Juniper as a name. Do you think your partner liked the name for the same reasons? 

We both love hiking and nature so I think that definitely inspired it for both of us. We thought it was fairly unique but has a fairly obvious spelling so she won’t have to be correcting people constantly. 

How do you and your partner feel about your own names? Did that affect what you were looking for in a baby name?

Based on my own experience, I did not want to name my baby something that they would never be called. I have a “formal name” (Margaret), but it was always the intention of my parents that I would go by a nickname (Meggie) and I hated having to correct every teacher and then having to fill out a name I don’t identify with on forms, etc. I’m ok with nicknames but would want the full name to still be used comfortably. Nick doesn’t have strong feelings about his name – a lot of his family calls him Nicholas and he is good with either. 

There are some pretty cute nicknames that have been used for Juniper so far – Junie B, Junie, Juju, J. 

When did you announce the name? What was the initial response from family and friends?

Before I was even pregnant, Nick mentioned the name to my parents as a possibility and my mum said she didn’t like it. It made me reconsider the name, knowing that she felt that way, but I ultimately decided that she would get over it. We also mentioned it to a couple of friends and they liked it, which was comforting after getting that initial feedback.

When we announced the name after she was born, everyone was very positive, often making specific comments about how much they loved the name. 

Now that your child is older, what reactions does the name get from strangers?

Either not much reaction or “oh my god, that is such a lovely name”. 

Did you have any moments of regret or doubt after giving your child the name? 

Our baby came early, and we hadn’t narrowed it down to one name beforehand (or so I thought). Nick was sure that we had decided that it would be Juniper if it was a girl, since we both liked the name, so when the doctor asked if she had a name one minute after she was born, Nick said “Juniper,” and I was like, “Sure.”

I haven’t had any regrets, although we were both surprised that it was more common than we thought. Once someone asked Nick if she was named after the Riverdale character and he was not pleased. 

Overall, how do you feel about the name now?

We love it! 

If you were having another baby, would you change your naming process at all?

I don’t think we would do things much differently. Maybe try to be ready with names earlier in general, and lock in the name around 30 weeks in case of another early arrival.

Since we had talked about Juniper for so long before expecting a baby, it would be different because we don’t have any names like that. I still wouldn’t tell many people what we were thinking in advance, and we still likely wouldn’t find out the sex until birth, so we would have to have at least two names, or a unisex name. For a middle name, I do like having something with more meaning/family ties, and for a first name just something we like.

Do you think June and Juniper are similar names, other than the sound?

Nick and I both agree that Juniper and June are completely different. Juniper has more options for nicknames, and is maybe a little more modern, although June is making a comeback. For June, I think of June Carter, so it feels a little country. Nick says he would tell someone else to pick June so their baby doesn’t have the same name as ours!

What are the most popular names for children 5 and under in your broader social network?

Franklin, Samuel, Leo, Carter, Jack (these are names we can easily think of at least 2 with the name, can’t think of any girls with the same name!)

Thank you to Meggie (and Nick) for answering my questions! I now feel empowered to assume that every other Juniper I meet has the same name story.

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