Older mothers more likely to choose traditional baby names than under-25s

Noah and Olivia were the most popular names for boys and girls in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Noah and Olivia were the most popular names for boys and girls in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Older mothers are more likely to give their babies traditional names compared with younger mothers who use shortened modern versions, new data shows.

Noah and Olivia were the most popular names for boys and girls in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Oliver dropped to second place, having been the most most popular boys’ name for eight years, while Olivia topped the girls’ list for the sixth year in succession.

The ONS said: “The long-running trend of older mothers giving their babies more traditional names and younger mothers giving more modern and shortened versions of traditional names continued.”

(PA Graphics)

Half of the top 10 boys’ names for mothers under the age of 25 were shortened versions of traditional names.

Of the top 10 baby names for mothers aged 35 and over, only one was a shortened name.

Elijah and Arlo only appeared in the top 10 boys’ names for mothers under 25, while more traditional names such as Alexander and Thomas were popular among those over 35.

Willow, Isabella, Harper and Delilah were girls’ names only seen in the top 10 among mothers under 25, while Charlotte, Grace, Sophie and Sophia were more likely for mothers over 35.

The ONS also said that famous figures and cultural influences were affecting babies’ names.

It suggested the Disney Pixar film Luca may have increased interest in the main character’s name, which went from 1,323 in 2020 to 1,807 in 2021, making it the 28th most popular for boys last year.

The release of Disney animation Raya And The Last Dragon in 2021 also led to an increase in the number of girls being named Raya, which doubled from 110 in 2020 to 251 last year.

Meanwhile, the name Boris slipped down the rankings last year, from 745th in 2020 to 815th in 2021.

Data showed that Henry replaced Jack in the top 10 names for boys, while Freya, Florence and Willow replaced Isabella, Rosie and Sophia for girls.

In total, 4,525 baby boys were named Noah in 2021, and 3,649 girls were named Olivia, up from 3,640 in 2020.

Noah was the fourth most popular boys’ name in 2020 and has risen 15 places since 2011.

(PA Graphics)

Olivia was the top girls’ name in every English region and Wales, except in the East Midlands, where Amelia was the most popular girls’ name.

Muhammad was the most popular boys’ name in four out of nine English regions.

New entries to the top 100 included Lara, Beatrice and Sara for girls, and Blake, Brody, Kai, Rupert, Tobias and Nathan for boys.

It is the first time Jack has not been in the top 10 since the annual series began in 1996.

Rupert and Brody were in the top 100 names for the first time.

Names of Welsh origin featured among the most popular in Wales in 2021 – Alys, Ffion, Seren and Eira were among the top 50 for girls, and Arthur, Osian, Dylan and Elis were among the top 30 for boys.

James Tucker, of the ONS, said: “While Noah and Olivia are enjoying their places at the top, some names could be in danger of falling out of favour.

“Leslie has had relatively little popularity in recent years with fewer than seven boys named each year since 2018. Others such as Clifford, Nigel and Norman have not fared much better with 10 or fewer boys being named.

“Girls’ names such as Glenda and Kerry, that were more common before, are also becoming endangered and we have seen less than five girls being named each year since 2018.

“Popular culture continues to influence parents’ baby name choices. Today we have also published analysis exploring cultural influences that could be inspiring baby name trends, from hit TV shows to musical icons.”