Recent trends in baby names

Published on Wednesday, 01 July 2020
Last updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

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Choosing your baby’s name is an exciting part of becoming a parent and it’s a big decision, too. A name lasts a lifetime, and with so many contemporary, classic and unique monikers on offer, it can be hard to settle on just one (or three!).

Fortunately, there are plenty of places to look for inspiration. Baby name apps and websites like Nameberry contain squillions of ideas, What To Expect has rounded up the best baby name books, and you can find inspiration in your family tree, friend circle and favourite things.

McCrindle’s Baby Names 2020 report is also a great place to see what’s on trend. Each year, this social research agency crunches the numbers to learn the most popular baby names, so let’s see what patterns have emerged with parents in 2020.

What were the Top 10 names for girls and boys?

McCrindle says that about one in 10 babies born last year were given a Top 10 baby name, and many previously popular names are continuing to have appeal.

Charlotte and Oliver are still the number one monikers for little girls and boys (with Charlotte being the most popular girls’ name every year since 2015, and Oliver taking top spot in the boys’ table for the last seven years).

Olivia, Mia, Ava, Jack, William and Noah have been consistently popular as well, and classic names continue to win parents’ hearts.

Currently the Top 10 Baby Names list looks like this:

Rank Girls Boys
1 Charlotte Oliver
2 Olivia Noah
3 Amelia Jack
4 Isla William
5 Mia Leo
6 Ava Lucas
7 Grace Thomas
8 Willow  Henry 
9 Harper  Charie 
10 Chloe James 

Although there hasn’t been much movement in the Top 10 rankings year-on-year, there have been shifts lower down the list.

What do we know about the Top 100 names for girls and boys?

The boys’ names Ezra, Felix, Marcus, Fletcher, Ari, Aaron and Billy have entered the Top 100 (bumping out Toby, Nathan, Maxwell, Nicholas, Blake, Phoenix and Leonardo). And when it comes to girls, the names Sadie, Madeline, Riley, Peyton, Lilly and Rosie are now in the Top 100 (with Adeline, Eliza, Alyssa, Harlow, Hayley and Madeleine dropping out of the list).

This year’s McCrindle report also tells us that:

Parents are still loving girls’ names with a botanical theme

Willow, Ivy, Violet, Poppy, Daisy, Jasmine, Olive, Lily/Lilly and Rose/Rosie are all in the Top 100, and Willow, Violet and Ivy had the biggest rise in popularity of any girls’ names between 2010 and 2019 (followed by Audrey and Sophia).

Botanical names aren’t popular for boys, though. Instead, the names Leo, Hugo, Hunter, George and Elijah rose most in the ranks between 2010 and 2019.

Classic and bohemian names are on the up – and down

In the last two years, Arthur and Millie were the names that jumped up the ranks most, and Luna has been increasingly popular for girls – thanks to the Harry Potter character and star couple, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. Luna first entered the Top 100 in 2017 (at 83rd place) and is now the 49th most popular name for girls.    

The names that rose most between 2018 and 2019 also included Theo, Beau, Bodhi and Harvey (for the boys) and Madeline, Heidi and Bonnie (for the girls).

On the flipside, Nate, Luke, Tyler, Darcy and Dylan (for the boys) and Indiana, Madison, Thea, Rose and Savannah (for the girls) dropped most in the Top 100 ranks last year. 

Boy/girl names continue to be popular

Charlie and Riley are the only two names with the same spelling that appear in the Top 100 list for girls and boys, but gendered names are still a hit with parents.

Olivia/Oliver, Alexis/Alexander, Aria/Ari, Billie/Billy, Ellie/Eli, Harriet/Harry and Thea/Theo are all girl/boy versions of names that have made it into the Top 100.

Parents are also using boys’ names for their little girls and vice versa. Names like Dylan, Jordan, Luca, Ashton, Kai, Bailey and Jesse are being given to girls, and some boys are being called Harper, Frankie, Mackenzie and Peyton.

Shorter names are popular with parents

Although INXS frontman, Michael Hutchence and TV personality, Paula Yates called their daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily back in 1996, today’s new parents prefer short names to long ones.

Jack is more popular than Jackson, Ella outranks Isabella and Isabelle, and McCrindle is also seeing a trend where ‘ie’ is added to the end of shortened names. William becomes Billie, Amelia morphs into Millie and Savannah is being switched to Sadie.

Unique names are striking a chord

Although unusual names won’t appear in the Top 100, McCrindle says parents nowadays are also looking for unique names that will set their child apart as they move through the 21st Century as part of Generation Alpha (which covers children born from 2010 to 2024).

Tesla chief, Elon Musk and musician, Grimes have called the son X AE A-Xii, and if you’re looking for something unusual but pronounceable, then there are lots of unique baby names here.

All in all, the full McCrindle Baby Names 2020 report is interesting reading. It shows how celebrities, religion, technology, royalty, history, colour and sound are inspiring parents when naming their babies, and whatever moniker you choose, finalising your child’s birth certificate heralds the start of a wonderful life together. Congrats!

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