Mom Names Get Younger
Today’s Mom Names might be familiar to you as the names of the friends who came to your first sleepover or your roommates in college: forever young. But many of the top girl names of the 1980s and 90s, once so fresh and cool, have become the new Mom Names of today.
It stands to reason that many 80s and 90s names have crossed over into mom territory: Girls born in those decades are now 20 to 40, the prime age for motherhood.
Of course, not every name of a twenty-or-thirty-something female automatically becomes a Mom Name. What does?
To qualify as a Mom Name, the name has to be emblematic of those late decades of the 1900s but to have since faded from popularity. Sure, there are definitely still babies named Ashley and Jessica, but those names are more likely to suggest a mom than a tiny child.
Some of the girls’ names popular at the end of the last century are too classic to be typified as Mom Names. Sarah and Elizabeth, for instance, defy a connection to any one moment in time.
Other names widely used in the 80s and 90s were already past their peak and so are really more Grandma Names than Mom Names: Donna, for instance, or Debra or, yes, Karen.
And that’s the reason you may not want to give one of the new Mom Names to a baby. As appealing as many of them are in so many way, Mom Names belong to the last generation, not the next one.
Here, what we see as the new Mom Names:
Megan and Meghan
Some background on the top girls’ names of the 1980s and 1990s, along with data on which names reached their highest points in the years when most of today’s new moms were born.
Megan and Meghan
Do you have a Mom Name? Do you think all these qualify? Would you give one of these so-called Mom Names to a baby?
This weekend, we’re celebrating dads with Dad Names.
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on October 1st, 2012 at 11:39 pm
Don’t forget Amy! Some of my best mom-friends are named Amy; named in the ’70s and ’80s, moms in the current decade!
on October 1st, 2012 at 11:53 pm
Wow I literally grew up with EVERY SINGLE one of these names. That’s funny, we’re all about “old lady” names but former mom names are becoming grandmas, and grandmas are one step away from old ladies!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:02 am
No Melissa? Whew! Dodged a bullet.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:15 am
I completely agree with this list. I’m a mom born in the ’80’s, and I know at least one person around my age with each of these names (and several people for most of them). But I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran into an Ashley or Jennifer under the age of 5.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:20 am
I can agree with alot of these on the list , but some still get used on babies in large numbers. Ashley was In the top 10 just 7 years ago, and while it has slipped, it still is in the top 50, so I hardly think that conjures up ONLY a mom image because clearly kids and babies still have this name. Alyssa is another one that is still holding its place in the top 50. I consider mom names, ones that are no longer being used really, and so this list is half accurate in my opinion. Also what about the classic names I see on this list, it would mean that your saying classic names are indeed NOT timeless … Rachel and Rebecca. What about Hannah, did it almost make the list? And what about Sarah? Im suprised not to see Melissa, Amanda and Amy not on the list.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:22 am
My first and middle names are on this list…I do have two kids so I can’t complain about having a ‘mom name’!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 am
I think a lot of these could migrate back to the boys now that they’re unfashionable for girls.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:35 am
I wouldn’t go as far as to say they ALL are unfashionable for girls…in reference to Skizzo’s comment.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:51 am
Forgot to ask Pam and Linda in addition to the names I asked about above, what about Brooke? Do you consider it a mom name too?
on October 2nd, 2012 at 1:17 am
I was born in the late 90s, and my name is already on here haha
on October 2nd, 2012 at 1:29 am
Gen X mom:Lisa, Michelle, Jackie, Tammy, Terry, Sue, Kathy/Cathy, Jill, Beth, Melissa, Tara, Cindy, Gina, Jennifer(yob1967-76)
Gen X/Y mom: Allison, Kerry, Julie, Amy, Becky, Erica, Heather, Devon, Kelly, Stacy,Danielle, Casey, Molly, Laura, Courtney, Erin(yob1977-1981)
Gen Y moms: Jessica, Lauren, Alicia, Katie/Kate, Chelsea, Ashley, Sarah, Elizabeth/Liz, Christina, Megan, Erin, Monica,Jamie, Lindsay, Kara, Ryan/Ryann(yob1981-1991)
Gen Z/moms 20and under (‘teen moms’): Caitlin/Kaelyn, Kayla, Amber, Samantha/Sam, Alyssa, Julissa, Andrea, Cameryn, Sarah(yob1992-1996)
on October 2nd, 2012 at 1:47 am
My name and most of my friends names are on this list. However, i haven’t met anyone of my generatiion with the name Shelby or kayla… so I’m confused by that.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 4:50 am
Holy crap my name’s on there!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 5:20 am
A couple of names to add to the list: Amy and Stacy
on October 2nd, 2012 at 5:28 am
I’m adding Amy, Amanda, Melissa (definitely thought I’d put that one on there), and Stacy. But I think Brooke somehow still feels more contemporary.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 5:35 am
I’m fifteen and I know at least one girl my age for every name listed including four Kayla’s, four Alyssa’s, five Ashley’s.The exception is the only Kelly I know is a boy!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 6:15 am
It’s a shame, some of these names are really pretty, but people see them as “Mom names”. I guess Abby will be on there pretty soon….
on October 2nd, 2012 at 7:04 am
As a Jennifer, I can say we are everywhere. At a local mom and kids coffeshop I have a tab run when I visit..always at least one other Jennifer, always. It is insane!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 7:43 am
I’d love to see a Dad names list as well. I know that boys names don’t seem to fluctuate as much as girls names (my husbands name has only dropped 9 places in 29 years), but I think it would still be interesting to see.
Also, I’m surprised that Amanda and Melissa were added after the fact. I know 4 Amandas (including myself) and 6 Melissas that are currently moms.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 7:57 am
Speaking of “mom” names, on the Name Games forum I have a tournament featuring the Top 16 names of the 1970s for each gender (which features some of the names in this category) going. The second round began yesterday; if you haven’t voted in this round it will be open until next Monday (each round lasts for a week). (You may have to click several pages to find the applicable threads.)
on October 2nd, 2012 at 8:04 am
My first and middle name made the list, and I’m not surprised. They seem very 80’s to me, and I know so many Megan/Meagan/Meghans around my age that it’s not even funny. It must have been particularly popular in my area.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 8:12 am
I’m surprised my name isn’t on the list! I knew so many other Tina’s my age growing up and still today.
If there was a dad’s list I know for sure my husband’s name would be on it… Justin. He knows 5 other Justin’s, all who have young children!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 8:23 am
@logansmom: You’re right on how the boy’s names have changed less, although with the diversification of the name pool many of the classics may attain a “dad” (or “granddad”) feel by default as the percentage of babies given those names drops. Nonetheless, some of the names that are or were going in the tournament such as Brian, Eric, Jason, Jeffrey, and Kevin, along with some names that narrowly missed the cut such as Scott, Mark, and Steven (although the latter two are probably more “boomer” names, along with Richard and Robert which were in the tourney) rank much lower for modern kids.
author in writing Said
on October 2nd, 2012 at 8:35 am
I’m surprised to see my own name on the list! I agree with most listed here but my name was a shocker, I certainly don’t feel ready for kids.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 9:00 am
As an Alyssa I was surprised to see my name on the list, I’m only 19 and all the other Alyssas I’ve met have been younger than me!
on October 2nd, 2012 at 9:49 am
I agree with Pixiewoo. Brooke should definitely be on the list. That name screams 80s. Also Sarah. It might be a classic, but I feel like there were a huge amount born during the 70/80s and you hardly ever hear it on a little girl today.
And I have to say that I disagree with Alyssa being on the list. I knew one Alyssa growing up in the 80s but I know quite a few who are ten and under.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 10:04 am
Pansy, that was my point, its inaccurate to pin the names that are not yet faded, into a mom name. And for the record, I dont think Brooke is a mom name, but it falls into the same category as some names on the list, being over generations. I brought up Brooke and Sarah becaause I wanted to see where and why they drew the line. I would like Pam and Linda to give more detailed thoughts on why thye put names like Alyssa, Ashley, etc into the mom name when its still clearly spanning generatns….Im a bit confused on that. Is this article more a way of trying to deter moms from using these names now, by labeling them mom names even if they really arent?
on October 2nd, 2012 at 10:30 am
Wow! Thanks for making me feel old, nameberry.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 10:31 am
Yep, my name’s on there, and I’m never in a group of moms where there isn’t another one with my name. I was born in ’78. A few more I would add:
I agree about boys’ names, too. I know a ton of men my age with names you almost never hear on children now: Adam, Brian, even Chris (although still popular, I haven’t met a child with that name yet), Greg, Patrick, Phillip, Stephen/Steven, Scott.
But on the flip side, my daughter’s nickname is “Jenny”, and it’s great because she’s the only child we’ve ever met with that name, even though half her friends’ mother’s are “Jennys”
on October 2nd, 2012 at 10:48 am
I was born in 1998 (and definitely without kids) and my name is on there, as well as a lot of my friends’. Lol 🙂
on October 2nd, 2012 at 11:38 am
@Maple10 – I am that mom born in the 80s named Shelby…but in my life I have only ever met one in my age group.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 12:23 pm
I’m surprised that Michelle/Michele didn’t make the list. I haven’t seen any little girls with that name in a very long time but went to school with three. Also, I disagree with MaryB on a couple of names. I was born in 1971 and my name is Laura. There was also 3 others in my class with that name and I went to s small country school with only 100 in my graduating class. Also – several Jessica’s in our school. That would make us more Gen X’ers, rather than Gen Y’ers.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 1:18 pm
I don’t know. I think some of these are classics and could be paired with one of the newer, fresher name and be fine.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 2:22 pm
I think that any name that is still in the top 100 and was given to thousands of babies last year probably shouldn’t be on this list. That’s just my opinion, though. 😉
on October 2nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm
I was born in 1982 and went to school with everyone of those girls…my name (Marcy), however, hasn’t even been in the top 1000, apparently, since 1988 🙂
on October 2nd, 2012 at 3:14 pm
As a mom born in the 80s, all my mom friends are on this list. My name, Ellen, has graduated from mom to grandma. It’s funny to think that names like Kaylee and Khloe are going to be mom names in 20 years.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 3:42 pm
Wow this was surreal. It was like you stole my address book. I’m 30 years old and my name is Shannon. EVERY single one of my closest friends is on this list, along with pretty much all female aquaintances. I new we had generational names but this just solidified it.
However, while most of these names are super dated I don’t think ALL of them are off the table. I still quite like: Amber, Chelsea, Heather and Whitney.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Katie could just as easily be the toddler. I like Alison & Erin & Amy for a little one today…Heather too, but it just feels less doable. I like a pretty good group of names from my gen that feel untouchable. I started a thread awhile back I think I called The Jennifers & the Jessicas.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 3:54 pm
Oh and I can feel Wendy coming back in the near future.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 5:39 pm
I agree with the list above – many moms I know have those names. However, I’m surprised Kelsey isn’t listed.
on October 2nd, 2012 at 6:56 pm
It is funny how I am born in the early-mid 90’s, and my name is up there (Amy) as well as the name of my two best friends (Jessica and Stephanie).
What I find funny is that I see Kayla and Amber differently only because I have two cousins that have these names (6 and 1 respectively).
on October 4th, 2012 at 4:28 pm
I thought of one more name I associate with moms now in their 30’s: Holly
on October 4th, 2012 at 5:55 pm
These are right on. I have always wondered why Alyssa was so high on the (current) popularity charts, because it seemed like a mom name to me. Please, no hate mail from any Alyssas out there. I have a mom name too.
on October 6th, 2012 at 9:44 pm
Yep. I know moms in their twenties and thirties named Alissa, Amanda, Amy, Ashley, Erin, Heather, Jennifer (x3), Jessica, Lauren, Lindsay, Megan, Melissa, Nicole, Rebecca, Shannon, and Stephanie! That’s half our playground right there 🙂
on October 13th, 2012 at 6:00 pm
Wow, I knew someone with every name on this list growing up! Well done 🙂
on November 29th, 2012 at 8:21 pm
Born in ’79 and my name is Susan:/ I never liked my name because it didn’t sound popular like my Julie/Amy/Michelle/Jennifer/Jessica friends! Still bothers me now that my name is on the grandma list!
on December 13th, 2012 at 7:52 pm
why does everyone keep posting about the name “amy” my name is amy and i became a 1st mom in 2010. and my name is on the list its the 4th on there.
on December 30th, 2012 at 6:01 am
I know many girls from high school with these names and several young moms in their teens and early twenties with these names one is even my name lol
on February 17th, 2013 at 11:58 am
Leslie needs to be on this list…I was born in 1983 and went to school with sooo many Leslies. Yesterday, I went to a birthday party of a little boy whose mom is a Leslie and my sister in law (a mom) is a Leslie. Her twin is a Brittany (which is my middle name). I’m a Scarlett…so for the first time ever, I feel like my name is popular. There are so many little Scarletts running around!
on July 7th, 2013 at 8:26 am
I am a mom and I have mom friends with all these names. In thirty years, the new moms will probably be Sophie, Emily, Isabella, Ava, and the rest of the top forty girl names. This list does make me appreciate truly timeless names like Elizabeth and Catherine even more!
Names That Age Well – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Said
on October 14th, 2016 at 7:49 pm
[…] names age, see Joan Lebow’s hilarious essay Does This Name Make Me Look Old?, or our blog on Mom Names. Most people have names that, like Joan or Jennifer, peg their age pretty accurately, at least to […]
on June 18th, 2020 at 6:14 pm
Cheryl and Sandra are solidly grandma names by now. The only ones I really disagree with is Michaela – McKayla and other variants are very 200s IMO.
on June 18th, 2020 at 11:42 pm
I’m so shocked to see Kylie on there! That’s my name but I never meet other Kylies my age, I thought it was more popular after 2000, whereas I’m 30. But I hope to be a mom soon so no shame in it being a mom name 😂
on June 21st, 2020 at 12:46 am
I belong in the age-range category, but my names didn’t make the list! (A diminutive of one of my names did though.)
Sourpuss alert – Why the need to tell people to avoid naming their kids these names? It’s fine to say they’re dated, but to discourage people from using them if they’re thinking about it? Why?
They’re not evil or problematic names, they’re nice, which is why they were popular to begin with. We get that they’re not the ‘freshest,’ but I find the disdainful tone wrong, and potentially hurtful.
on June 21st, 2020 at 6:11 pm
I agree with @flamingo Said! It’s fine to state that many of these names feel a little dated. But to imply that parents shouldn’t use them is because of that is frustrating.
I like several of these names and think that they’re still totally usable! I have both Amy (ranked 205 in 2018) and Lauren (ranked 171 in 2018) on a list of possibles if I have a daughter someday. While neither are as fresh as they once were, I think they both could fit in with modern trends. And given their ranks, they are clearly both still being used.
on June 30th, 2020 at 11:12 am
Two of the characters in my WIP are named Aimee and Colleen.
For some strange reason, I really love all these names. Maybe it has something to do with my love for older names, but this list has a lot of my favorites.
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