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Gender-Neutral Baby Names

Choosing just the right name for your anticipated bundle of joy is a challenging yet exciting task. The pressure may be on to pick a name after a family member or a name that holds special meaning. You can instead select a gender-neutral name -- in vogue since the 1980s -- to convey a character both strong and sensitive for your child.

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The Origin of Unisex Names

Most unisex names began as male names, according to Leslie Bolton, author of "The Complete Book of Baby Names." Gender-neutral names, such as Jordan, Alex or Hayden, eventually became appealing to parents and more common for both girls and boys. Among hundreds of unisex names, Casey, Jamie, Cameron, Avery or Addison have become among the most popular choices. Names such as Florence or Lindsay, historically male, evolved as female-only names over time, according to Bolton.

Trendy Times

Researching the most popular names is often an easy way to choose your favorite gender-neutral name. The Social Security Administration releases data each year detailing the most popular names for both girls and boys, identifying trendy unisex choices. For example, in 2013, Milan was chosen for 484 boys and 471 girls. Lennon, Oakley, Charlie, Justice, Dakota and Phoenix were additional top picks in the United States. Parents can also choose gender-neutral names for each child in the family, all beginning with the same letter, such as Sidney, Skylar, Sage and Sawyer.

Seeking Equality

Unisex names have reflected a desire by parents to sidestep traditional names with clearcut gender identification, according to Nameberry, a baby name resource. Many parents choose gender-neutral names to resist stereotypes. You may choose names such as Morgan, Parker or Blake for a female to promote competitiveness or Angel, Emery or Jaden for a male to break away from traditional masculine choices.

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The Final Decision

Picking a gender-neutral name comes down to personal preference, says Hopkins. "Gender-neutral names sound nice and look good in print," she says. Parents who give a gender-neutral name to a female commonly think their daughter will be strong, says Hopkins. Even if you have reached a final decision before the baby is born, you may change your mind once you see your child for the first time to make sure the baby's appearance fits with the name. Go with your gut, says Hopkins. You will know for sure when you hold your baby for the first time.

Photo via Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images

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