Naming your baby can feel so intimidating at times, right? And like any trend, baby names cycle in and out of style all the time. The most popular baby names in recent years have been of the lovely, old-fashioned variety—and they still are. But if you're looking for that perfect combination of unique baby names that are also well-liked, you might be surprised at the data surrounding baby names in 2021.
Will Emma, Olivia and Aidan be ending their decade-long reign at the top of the list? Will New Age vibes supersede historical tradition when it comes to baby names? Will a famous person ever choose a simple name like "Jim" instead of "X Æ A-12 Musk?"
The world may never know about that last one, but let's find out the answers to at least some of those questions.
MyHeritage genealogy platform (yes, the one that went viral on TikTok because it lets you animate old photos of dead relatives) has analyzed census and Social Security Administration data collected by the US and the Office of National Statistics in the UK. Now they're offering their predictions on what baby names will gain popularity, and what names will be heading into baby name retirement.
Queen Emma, long may she reign.
If you're partial to the name Emma and you're planning on having a baby sometime before 2042 (!!!), good news: this name isn't falling off the popularity list until then at least.
So long Aiden, Ethan, Abigail, Avery, Chloe, David, Logan and Elizabeth.
Aiden and Ethan will likely start to lose their luster of popularity within the next five years, and MyHeritage says the others will be passing the popularity baton within the next decade or two.
If unique is more your style (but not, say, Elon Musk unique), names like Mary and Robert are no longer as common as they once were. Here are the classic yet distinctive names with a historical flair that will likely see a revival.
Family ancestry: Boy names vs. girl names
Parents-to-be are becoming more influenced by their own family histories, according to Rafi Mendelsohn, Director at MyHeritage.
"Male names have more longevity than female names," Mendelsohn said. "Out of the top 20 male names over the last 50 years, 13 male names still show in the top 300 whereas many of the female names have slipped down to around the 1000th place like Gemma, Nicola, Susan and Jacqueline - and names like Amelia, Isla and Olivia seem to be going through the same trend cycle."
When it comes to baby girl names, Mendelsohn believes they're much more impacted by trends. "It's more common to see a popular [female name] drop out of fashion five years later in one decade," he said.
Family history is beginning to play a large role in naming children, as people have access to ancestry platforms like MyHeritage and Ancestry and can trace back generations of relatives with very interesting names.
"As more people research their family's history it is now much easier to look back and find out which names were important in your past," Mendelsohn said. "This could be a big driver for the recent boom in Victorian baby names, as new parents look to connect their children with distant ancestors."
While it's certainly interesting to see how baby name trends have shifted throughout the years, it doesn't matter how popular a name is or isn't when it comes to your little one. If you gain inspiration from trends, that's totally cool. If you're partial to a name found in your family's history, that is incredibly meaningful. Or if you've simply just always loved a certain name, that's wonderful too.
The love behind the name is the most important part of the process.