Forty years ago (maybe even thirty), sonograms simply weren't standard parts of prenatal care. Without a sonogram or two, the gender of the baby can't be discovered. And, in most cases, without knowing the gender of the baby, a single name can't be settled upon. So, relatively speaking, it is a trend for parents to decide on a single name before the baby is born thanks to modern technology. But, if I'm considering only the last five years (the years when my peers started to become pregnant), it's really the last two years that I've noticed this naming habit.
While I won't choose this route, I don't think it's wrong or bad. At all. Quite the opposite, I understand the fun in it. I imagine that it's fantastic to call him or her a real name rather than a nickname or...a pronoun. Using a name (the name) might make it feel all the more real? Choosing a name as early as possible hopefully prevents pregnant friends, acquaintances and coworkers from scooping up your jewel before the due date. But I don't think any of these reasons are why people do it. My theory on this seemingly newish trend is that people have been taken by all the amazing baby swag that requires a name or initials. Below are a few examples of these desirables.
Pottery Barn has a bunch of personalized books, like the one below. In fact, Pottery Barn has an entire section of their website dedicated to personalized baby stuff (here) with everything from blankets to toys to furniture.
The wall decal below by Stephen Edward Graphic ($35) is one of many that you can find on Etsy.com. Personalizing a nursery can be nearly instant.
Two blue peas has a slew of awesome, inexpensive (!) baby gifts that can be personalized with a name or initials, like the giraffe and raccoon blanket below. Check them all out here.
While I just realized this name picking trend, I have known of the general love for personalized gifts since the start of NSB and written about it twice (here and here). So, was it the chicken or the egg? Did personalized gifts become popular because people were choosing names before babies arrived or were people choosing names before babies arrived leading savvy retailers to capitalize?