Welcome, Willow!

The girl’s name made its debut on the top 10 list of baby names this year—a rare newcomer on a list crowded with longtime favorites.

The annual list of top baby names released each year by the Family Birthplace and Natural Birthing Suites at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital gives a look at name trends in West Michigan.

The hospital, which delivers more babies than any hospital in the state, has welcomed more than 7,100 babies so far this year.

In 2019, Charlotte led the girls’ list, followed by Olivia and Emma.

On the boys’ list, Oliver claimed the top spot, followed by Lucas and Jack.

The name Willow has grown steadily in popularity in the past decade on the national name list kept by the U.S. Social Security Administration. In 2008, it was No. 407 for girls’ names. By 2018, it rose to No. 62.

At Spectrum Health, Willow tied for eighth place in 2019.


Top baby names

Girl names in 2019:

1. Charlotte
2. Olivia
3. Emma
4. Evelyn
5. Ava
6. Amelia
7. Avery
Tied for No. 8:

Boy names in 2019:

1. Oliver
2. Lucas
3. Jack
4. Liam
5. Henry
6. Benjamin
7. Theodore
8. Elijah
9. Owen
10. Levi

Girl names in 2018:

1. Olivia
2. Charlotte
3. Emma
4. Amelia
5. Evelyn
6. Ava
7. Harper
8. Sophia
9. Abigail
10. Natalie

Boy names in 2018:

1. William
2. Oliver
3. James
4. Theodore
5. Liam
6. Jackson
7. Henry
8. Owen
9. Lucas
10. Hudson

Melisa and Eric LaPointe had no idea the name would be on the top 10 list when they chose it for their daughter, Willow Nicole.

Willow and her twin sister, Lily Skie, arrived Nov. 11, 2019.

“They came a little earlier than expected,” Melisa said.

Born at 32 weeks, the girls each weighed about 1½ pounds at birth. They are receiving care at the Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Now, Willow weighs 2 pounds, 9 ounces. Lily weighs 2 pounds, 5 ounces.

As the parents talked, Melisa cuddled Lily. And Eric wrapped a blanket around Willow as she squirmed.

“This child loves to stretch,” he said.

Both names fit the little girls, the parents said.

“Willow is a tree, and she is growing. Lily is a flower, and she is growing,” Melisa said.

A classic name

Alicia and Danny Thomas had no idea Theodore would be such a popular name—No. 7 on the boys’ list—when they chose it for their son.

Alicia just loved the name, especially the nickname Theo.

“We like a classic, strong name,” she said. “We decided before we were pregnant that if it’s a boy, he would be Theo.”

Eight weeks into their pregnancy, the couple learned they were expecting triplets, two girls and a boy. They bestowed their two favorite girls’ names—Malia and Zara—on Theo’s sisters.

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, they watched over their triplets, just 2 days old. They talked about the meaning of Theo’s name—God’s gift.

“They are all little God’s gifts,” Danny said.

Although they thought Theodore’s name would be uncommon, they welcomed news of its popularity.

“Top 10. Yay!” Danny said as he cuddled Theo.

“I’m glad the older names are coming back,” Alicia said.

A name for little sister

As Taylor Bussing and Melvin Asberry learned they were expecting a daughter, Melvin suggested naming her Amelia.

“I like the way it rolls off your tongue,” he said. “It just sort of clicked.”

Taylor liked the association with Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” she said.

When their baby girl arrived Nov. 9, they named her Amelia. Big brother Kaysen, who was 16 months old, welcomed her with lots of kisses.

They learned a few weeks later that her name was No. 4 on the list at Spectrum Health.

“We were excited, very excited,” Taylor said. “Amelia is an older name. We didn’t think people were using it.”