Baby Name Wizard dazzles both the expecting and the curious

Does he look like a Jacob or an Ethan to you? Better check with the Baby Name Wizard.

Picking baby names is a sticky wicket. Do you take the traditional route and risk your kid being the fifth Alex (male or female) in his class? Or do you roll the dice on a unique name and risk ridicule (for both of you) down the line?

There are seemingly countless websites ready to help with your decision, but Baby Name Wizard rises above most with an impressive set of tools that are interesting even if you're not expecting. Branching out beyond the common resources of top-10 lists and name etymologies, this free site turns decades of American birth records into beautiful and informative art.

One of its more popular widgets, Name Voyager, paints the rise and fall of names in US history. As the snapshot below shows, Christopher was a relatively uncommon name until the 1940s, when it took off and peaked 30 years later. Yet this image does not do justice to the actual site. With each letter your type in, the chart moves, creating mathematical hills and valley as it narrows to fit your search.

While Name Voyager grabs most of the attention – especially today, when it reached "volcanic" attention, according to Google's trend tracker – Baby Name Wizard also breaks down names by geographic location. See if names that you're considering are more popular on a particular coast or in a certain site. Or, follow your name's migration through time.

The Baby Name Wizard herself, Laura Wattenberg, keeps a regular blog on names around the world and recently released an expanded edition of her book for expecting couples.


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