Younger Parents Most Adventurous Baby Namers
Younger parents and older parents differ in many ways, but one of the most striking is their choice of baby names.
Nameberry’s exclusive analysis of our site statistics shows that young parents prefer more uncommon, less conventional names, while older parents favor more traditional choices. And that difference is borne out in official data from both the US and UK.
The Social Security Administration does not record national data on baby names by parental age, but we can use information about the average maternal age in each state to take a critical look at regional popularity charts.
For both sexes, the states with the youngest first-time mothers had the most distinctive taste in baby names, with older parents significantly more likely to choose names that rank among the national Top 20.
And in the UK, where the annual data includes a breakdown of popular names by maternal age, younger mothers are more likely to defy convention, favoring modern names like Jax and Nevaeh, nickname names like Vinnie and Lexi, and hyphenated names like Ivy-Rose and Ava-Mae.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.
Nameberry’s Top Names by Age
Nameberry’s own site statistics reveal the most searched baby names for each age group, rather than the names parents actually used. Our data provides an insight into naming tastes across the whole age group – not just those who are having babies.
At first glance, the top girl and boy names for each age group we analyzed – those aged 18-24, 25-34, and 35-44 – look stylistically pretty close.
Melodious, vowel-rich girl names like Aurelia, Ophelia, Amelia and Aurora are popular across the board, as are punchy ancient or vintage boy names like Atticus, Atlas, Ezra and Felix. All feature in the Top 10 names of the past year for at least two of the three age groups we studied.
But look a little further down the charts, and things get much more interesting!
Names that rank disproportionately highly on Nameberry for one particular age group are listed below.
Visitors aged 18-24
Visitors aged 25-34
Visitors aged 35-44
There’s a clear style progression to be seen here. Names that attract the most attention from the youngest age group tend to be sharp, striking, and highly unusual – often drawn from myth and legend. This even holds true for boy names, which have historically been more conservative in the US.
Names searched more frequently by the middle group – those statistically most likely to be naming real-life babies – blend adventurousness with wearability. Tailored choices like Avery, Bennett, Harrison and Sage are particularly popular with this cohort.
Uncommon but not too extravagant international names like Bianca, Delphine, Magnus and Vihaan are also popular with this key baby-naming group.
The oldest age group has by far the fewest distinctive names near the top of its rankings. Those that are particularly popular with this group are mostly short, sweet and classic or vintage in style, like Ada, Caleb, Lena and Mia.
Of course, it’s likely that a large proportion of Nameberry visitors in the youngest category especially are searching names for fun or for future reference, rather than for real-life use.
But it’s still a striking pattern that we hope will be borne out by a boom of babies named Andromeda and Lysander in the future!
Baby Names by Maternal Age in the US
Unfortunately, the SSA doesn’t break its baby names data down by parental age, but we do have statistics about the average age of first-time mothers in each US state.
The three states with the youngest average maternal age are Mississippi, Arkansas and New Mexico, with a combined average age of 23.7, while the three states with the oldest first-time mothers are Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, with an average age of 28.1.
We compared at the Top 20 girl and boy names in each of those states to see if there are any patterns.
Girl names that feature at least twice as heavily in the Top 20 lists of the states with the oldest average maternal age include Chloe, Abigail, Mia, Luna, Emily, Sofia, Gianna, Leah, Madison and Grace.
And girl names that tend by the same ratio towards the youngest side include Paisley, Nova, Avery, Elizabeth, Harper, Layla, Aaliyah, Kinsley, Skylar and Hazel.
Boy names that feature at least twice as heavily on the oldest side include Joseph, Jack, Alexander, Logan, Ethan, Jacob, Daniel, Luca, Dylan and Matthew.
And boy names that tend towards the youngest side include William, John, Elijah, Asher, Grayson, Waylon, Jaxon, Samuel, Hudson and Levi.
For both sexes, the states with the youngest first-time mothers had the most distinctive taste in baby names. Fourteen girl names and sixteen boy names that featured in only one Top 20 list were on the youngest side, compared to five girl names and five boy names on the oldest side.
Of course, these observations come with the big disclaimer that there are many other factors which play into the popularity of different names in different states: language, culture, history, politics, religion and education, to name but a few.
But the general picture appears to reflect what Nameberry’s own data suggests. The states with younger first-time mothers tend to favor more distinctive names – particularly modern names and surname names – while older parents prefer more traditional choices.
Baby Names by Maternal Age in the UK
One country which does release official data about the influence of maternal age on baby name choices is the UK. Our friend Elea at British Baby Names has produced an excellent summary of the 2021 baby name statistics from England and Wales.
The data shows that younger mothers (aged 25 and under) generally prefer less traditional names than mothers aged 35 and over.
These include surname-style choices such as Hunter, Oakley and Harper – all in the Top 25 for mothers under the age of 25, but outside the Top 50 (and, in the case of Hunter and Oakley, outside the Top 100) for mothers over 35.
Modern names like Kayden, Jax, Paisley and Nevaeh, as well as hyphenated names for girls, like Ivy-Rose and Ava-Mae, were also markedly more popular among younger mothers.
Our analysis of the age-segregated Top 100 lists from England and Wales also shows that the youngest parents had the most distinctive taste in names.
Overall, 16 boy names and 19 girl names that made the Top 100 for mothers under 25 didn’t feature in either the nationwide Top 100 or the Top 100 for any other age group. Examples included Skylar, Marnie, Harlow, Athena and River for girls and Cody, Levi, Brodie, Enzo and Marley for boys.
For comparison, the total number of names – boy and girl – that met the same criteria for the other age groups was: four (mothers aged 25-29), one (mothers aged 30-34), and 18 (mothers aged 35+).
Examples of names in the Top 100 only for the oldest age group included Abigail, Zoe, Francesca, Victoria and Cleo for girls, and Leon, Wilfred, Elliott, Matthew and Owen for boys.