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 own 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 the UK.
What Are the Top Names by Parental Age?
The Social Security Administration does not record national data on baby names sorted 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 Amelia-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 actually used for real-life babies. Our data provides an insight into naming tastes across the whole age group – not just those who are having babies.
The Top 10 girl and boy names for each age group we analyzed are listed below.
Visitors aged 18-24
Visitors aged 25-34
Visitors aged 35-44
Overall, there is significant stylistic overlap between the girl lists, with sleek celestial Luna topping the charts for all three age groups and flowy, vowel-rich sounds popular with all our visitors. But the girl names favored by the younger age groups tend to be more elaborate and more uncommon than those preferred by the older groups.
The Top 10 lists for boys diverge more markedly in style. The youngest age group includes twice as many eye-catching boy names ranking at #300 or below in the US (Danger, Atticus, Soren, Cassius) than either of the older groups.
In contrast, the boy names searched most frequently by the oldest age group are notable for their brevity: most contain no more than five letters and just one or two syllables.
Nameberry’s Unique Names by Age
Even more illustrative of the differences in naming style between the different age groups are the names that rank highly overall for one group, but at least 100 spots lower for the others. These 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 holds true even 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. Cool underused classics like Tessa, Frances, Ambrose and Forrest are particularly popular with this cohort.
And the oldest age group has by far the fewest distinctive names near the top of its rankings. Only chic classic Audrey and gentle Biblical Josiah rank highly only among this age group.
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 babies. But it’s still a strikingly clear pattern that we hope will be borne out by a boom of little Andromedas and Florians 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.
Graphic by Chloe Effron for Mental Floss
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 the most recent Top 20 girl and boy names in each of those states to see if there are any patterns.
Girl names that featured at least twice as heavily in the Top 20 lists of the states with the oldest average maternal age were: Sofia, Gianna, Zoe, Leah, Madison, Emily, Chloe, Sarah, Valentina, Scarlett, Grace, Nora, Maya and Mila.
And girl names that tended by the same ratio towards the youngest side were: Kinsley, Harper, Elizabeth, Paisley, Avery, Skylar, Brooklyn, Aubrey, Nova, Caroline, Ivy, Serenity, Willow, Hazel, Addison, Aria, Aaliyah, Aurora, Zoey and Autumn.
Boy names that featured at least twice as heavily on the oldest side were: Joseph, Benjamin, Henry, Daniel, Alexander, Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Jack, Matthew, David, Dylan, Logan, Jayden, Owen and Thomas.
And boy names that tended towards the youngest side included: Elijah, John, Kingston, Asher, Grayson, Waylon, Carter, Christopher, Aiden, Jace, Jaxon, Josiah, Wyatt, Hudson, Samuel, Levi, Maverick and Ezekiel.
For both sexes, the states with the youngest first-time mothers had the most distinctive taste in baby names. Seventeen girl names and eighteen boy names that featured in only one Top 20 list were on the youngest side, compared to seven girl names and four boy names on the oldest side.
And Mississippi – the state with the lowest average maternal age – had the most distinctive taste of all. Almost half of its top girl names and a quarter of its top boy names didn’t feature on any of the other states’ Top 20 lists.
Of course, these observations come with the 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 2020 baby name statistics from England and Wales.
The data shows that younger mothers (aged 25 and under) generally preferred less traditional names than mothers aged 35 and over.
These included surname-style choices such as Hunter, Riley 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 Riley, outside the Top 100) for mothers over 35. Modern names like Kayden, Jax, Paisley and Nevaeh, as well as hyphenated names for girls, like Isla-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, Alaia and Lillie for girls and Kayden, Levi, Tyler, Lincoln 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), three (mothers aged 30-34), and 14 (mothers aged 35+). Examples of names in the Top 100 only for the oldest age group included Zoe, Beatrice, Martha, Victoria and Nina for girls, and Nathaniel, Wilfred, Aaron, Robert and Leonardo for boys.