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Spectrum Health's top baby names for 2017

By Sue Thoms/HealthBeat • Dec 31, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Congratulations, Olivia and Charlotte, Liam and Levi.

For the second year in a row, you lead the pack when it comes to popular baby names at the Family Birthplace at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.

The list of top names given to newborns in 2017 contains lots of recent favorites, as well as a couple of newcomers.

For the girls’ top 10 list, Adeline joins the crowd for the first time, coming in at No. 10.

That reflects a surge in popularity nationwide for the name. In 2006, Adeline was No. 467 on the list of popular baby names in the U.S., according to the Social Security Administration. The name climbed steadily in popularity over the decade and, by 2016, reached No. 63.

On the boys’ list, Oliver is the only name that did not crack the top 10 in 2016. However in 2015, the name claimed the No. 3 spot.

The top 10 lists give a glimpse of coming attractions for West Michigan preschool and kindergarten classrooms.

So far this year, 7,604 babies were born at Butterworth Hospital ― more than at any other hospital in the state.

A blessing

Sandra Garcia stroked her son’s chin and watched a little smile flit across his face. Just 10 days old, little Benjamin already knew how to make his mother’s heart melt.

Garcia was pleased to learn her firstborn son’s name made the top 10 list.

“I’m excited,” she said. “My baby’s famous now.”

She chose Benjamin as she looked at Biblical names. The meaning―“son of my right hand”―seemed a perfect fit for her firstborn son.

“I really feel like my baby is my biggest blessing,” she said.

Born at 6 pounds, 1 ounce, Benjamin spent his first days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital as doctors addressed problems with his blood sugar level, Garcia said. She hoped she would be able to bring him home soon to her house in Kentwood, so she could tuck him into his own crib with the colorful blanket sent by his aunt.

Grandma Sandra Dorantes lifted the baby from the crib and nestled him into his mother’s arms. Garcia cuddled him and stroked his chest.

“He’s my everything,” she said. “He really makes me so happy. I feel really blessed to have him.”

Top baby names

Girl names in 2017:

1. Olivia

2. Charlotte

3. Ava

4. Elizabeth

5. Emma

6. Sophia

7. Hazel

8. Abigail

9. Nora

10. Adeline

Boy names in 2017:

1. Liam

2. Levi

3. Elijah

4. James

5. Lincoln

6. Benjamin

7. Mason

8. Oliver

9. Jack

10. Charles

Girl names in 2016:

1. Olivia

2. Charlotte

3. Evelyn

4. Ava

5. Emma

6. Elizabeth

7. Sophia

8. Nora

9. Harper

10. Abigail

Boy names in 2016:

1. Liam

2. Levi

3. James

4. William

5. Elijah

6. Mason

7. Lincoln

8. Jack

9. Charles

10. Benjamin

A vintage touch

The moment they learned they had a girl on the way, Jennifer and Brad Camling named her Nora.

During Jennifer’s pregnancy, sons Brody, 4, and Zac, 2, often talked excitedly about their baby sister, Nora.

“They would go up to (their mom) and say, ‘Kiss Nora’s belly?’” Brad said.

The Comstock Park couple had no idea that their daughter’s name―No. 9 on the list―was so popular.

Over the years, the Camlings have kept a running list of favorite baby names. Nora surfaced to the top of the list by the time they learned their third baby was a girl.

The name is “vintage-y” but more modern than some of the 1950s-era names they considered, Jennifer said.

Nora’s middle name―Lynn―pays tribute to two generations. It matches the middle names of her mother and her paternal grandmother.

Little Nora―weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces―charmed her big brothers the moment they met.

“They wanted to hold her and be right next to her,” Brad said.

“They wanted to give her kisses and see her pinkies,” said Jennifer.

‘A miracle baby’

After serious medical problems twice brought her close to death, Bethany Cunningham didn’t think she would be able to get pregnant. When she and her husband, Troy, found out they were expecting a baby girl, they were overjoyed.

As they tried to choose a name for their first daughter, they considered Biblical names and family names.

“We wanted this to be a special name because she’s a miracle baby,” Bethany said.

When they chose Emma, they had no idea it would pop up on the top 10 list for baby girls.

“This was a name I always liked,” Bethany said.

When she was 21, she developed serious intestinal issues and a bowel obstruction. Her weight dropped to 75 pounds and she became too weak to walk. She recovered, but the condition surfaced again a few years later.

Ultimately, she said she received so much radiation during tests that she didn’t think she could become pregnant.

When she learned she had a baby on the way, Bethany said, “I was so excited I jumped up and down.”

Because Bethany had preeclampsia, little Emma arrived two months before her due date.

Now 6 weeks old, she is growing bigger and stronger every day, Bethany said.

“She’s very calm and content and happy,” she said.

She and her husband, who love the country, look forward to camping, fishing and riding bikes with their little girl some day.

“She is such a blessing,” Bethany said. “A miracle and a joy.”

Going for classic

Learning Mason made the list―at No. 7―surprised Luke and Megan Veldink.

“We didn’t know it was that popular,” said Megan, as she cradled her newborn son. “We don’t know anyone with that name.”

Mason Robert Veldink’s eyes fluttered open and closed. In his first 24 hours of life, he slept well―just not at night, his mom said.

The Hudsonville couple said popularity didn’t factor into their decision as they considered what to name their second son.

Megan liked her mother-in-law’s advice: “Pick a name that you would yell out the front door.”

They thought Mason went well with Wesley, the name they gave to his 2-year-old brother.

Ultimately, Mason appealed to them because it was a simple, traditional name.

“Classic,” Luke said. “That’s the word we are looking for.”

Learn more about pregnancy and childbirth care at Spectrum Health and neonatal care at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

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