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The top baby names of 2011: Think your little Caleb's special?

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Aidan and Emma! Get out of the pool!

In a world where every parent likes to think their child is a winner, there's still one competition that no one wants their kid to rank first in: the name game. U.S. parenting websites have already begun releasing their lists of the top baby names for 2011, based on input from their members.

If you wrote down, say, Ava or Caleb, on a birth certificate this year, your special snowflake may need a nickname in order to stand out. Both made BabyNames.com's list, which also included the surprising appearance of Harper at No. 10 for girls.

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Could this be a cross-border shout out to the Prime Minister of Canada? Sadly, no. It's all about a different kind of celebrity role model. "Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffani Thiessen and the Beckhams all chose the name Harper for their baby girls," said Jennifer Moss, the website's chief executive officer. "I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually hits No. 1."

This year, that honour went to Charlotte, a sign that not everyone held Sex in the City 2 against Kristin Davis, with Sophia, Amelia and Olivia joining Ava in the top five. It appears that while we may dress our daughters like sexpots, we want to name them after Victorian heroines.

The Bible continues to be the source for male monikers, but parents are digging a little deeper. "Instead of the more common names like Joseph, David or Michael, we're now seeing names like Levi, Caleb and Eli becoming more popular," Ms. Moss said. Liam was members' first choice for boys' names, which will not surprise anyone who spent time in a playground in 2011.

Meanwhile, over at BabyCenter.com, Aiden/Adian (yes, another Sex and the City-influenced pick) took the top spot for the seventh straight year. Mason, no. 11 in 2010, moved up to third, with Jackson, Liam and that Old Testament stalwart Jacob rounding out the top five. With the girls, Sophia ruled, followed by Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava (Charlotte didn't make the list until No. 25).

If you look back over lists from previous years, girls' names have stayed consistently old-fashioned and feminine. Parents now appear to be more open to thinking outside of the box for their boys, with Jayden, Caden and Brayden all popular – and rhyming. Imagine the fun you'll have calling them home from the park five years from now.

Did you give your child a name you thought was unique that turned out to be popular? Which names do you think will make Canada's top five for 2011?

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About the Author

Shelley Youngblut is the Western Editor of The Globe and Mail (and the mother of identical twins). The former editor of Calgary’s award-winning Swerve magazine, she is a veteran of ESPN the Magazine, and has commented on pop culture on ABC, CTV and CBC Radio. More

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