The most popular baby names of 2023 include some interesting trends

Half of the top 10 boys' names start with the letter "L," for starters.

smiling baby
Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

Naming a baby is a big decision.

Few things prompt people's interest—and approval or disapproval—as quickly as what someone decides to name their child. It's this weird phenomenon where the tension between traditional-but-not-too-traditional, popular-but-not-too-popular, and unique-but-not-too-unique all blend together to push the evolution of naming humans forward.

It's always interesting to look at trends in baby names, as the question of how the ubiquitousness of Jennifer and Angela shifted to Emma and Olivia remains. It's not like society decides as a whole that some names are out and others are in; it just seems to happen organically.

However, as BabyCenter's annual baby names report shows, there are sometimes specific reasons certain names climb in the chart while others dip. Sometimes it's a hit television show. Sometimes it's a beloved celebrity or public figure. Sometimes it's a resurgence of naming kids after grandparents or great-grandparents, bringing back names that had long fallen out of favor.

So what are the latest name trends? BabyCenter analyzed the data from over 300,000 parents who registered their baby's names, and here the top 10 names that popped up for girls and boys in 2023:

Top 10 Girls' Names of 2023

1. Olivia

2. Emma

3. Amelia

4. Sophia

5. Charlotte

6. Ava

7. Isabella

8. Mia

9. Luna

10. Evelyn

Top 10 Boys' Names of 2023

1. Noah

2. Liam

3. Oliver

4. Elijah

5. Mateo

6. Lucas

7. Levi

8. Leo

9. Ezra

10. Luca

This is the first time in five years that Liam has not been in the No. 1 spot for boys, being taken over by Noah. The top 3 girls' names are the same as they were in 2022.

Ezra and Luca are new additions to the boys' top 10, booting Asher and James into No. 11 and No. 12. For girls, Charlotte climbed the furthest up the latter, from No. 9 to No. 5. Names starting with "M" appear to be making a move for girls as well, with names like Miley, McKinley, Mavis, and Milan all climbing the charts by three digits.

Oddly, half of the boys' top 10 names start with the letter "L" and 9 out of 10 of the girls' top 10 end with the letter "A." Any explanation? Who knows.

BabyCenter shared some other trends in the baby naming world as well:

- Names are getting shorter and sweeter as nicknames take over "proper" names: For instance, Ellie (No. 15) is more popular than Elizabeth (No. 41) and Eleanor (No. 31); Josie (No. 85) outranks Josephine (No. 146); Theo (No. 20) has bested Theodore (No. 38); and Leo (No. 8) is much preferred to Leonardo (No. 141).

- London is falling, along with other travel-inspired names: It's been popular for some time to name kids after popular cities and states, but that trend is slowing as shown by: Cali (down 137 spots), Paris (down 136 spots), Sydney (down 116 spots), Memphis (down 78 spots), London (down 56 spots), Cairo (down 55 spots), Phoenix (down 46 spots), Aspen (down 43 spots), and Dakota (down 25 spots).

- Rihanna and Lionel climb thanks to football and soccer: Rihanna's pregnant halftime performance at the 2023 Super Bowl appears to have inspired some parents as Rihanna has climbed the baby name chart 261 spots, to No. 1,721. And Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi's move to Major League Soccer appears to have inspired a name shift as Lionel is up 283 spots this year to No. 456.

- Wednesday's child is not so full of woe, apparently: The popularity of Netflix's Wednesday series seems to have launched the name Wednesday, as it's up 1,425 spots in the rankings, to No. 1,183.

- Barbie has also launched a few names of her own: Barbie’s full name, Barbara, is up a whopping 994 spots, to No. 1,336. Greta (as in Greta Gerwig, Barbie director) is up 313 spots, to No. 95; and Margot (as in Robbie) is up 65 spots, to No. 221.

- The rise of the Ya Ya Sisterhood: More girls are being given names that feature the sound and spelling “ya” with names like Siya, Haya, Inaya, Aadhya, and Ariyah.

- We may be approaching the end of the -en endings: Boys' names that end in -en are on their way down, so all of those Jaydens and Kaydens you know may start seeing less of themselves in the younger set.

People tend to have fairly strong feelings about baby names, especially when they stray too far off the beaten path. But every generation sees it's popular names rise and fall and there's always an influx of new names that start rising in the ranks, so name your kiddo whatever you darn well please. As long as your kid's name isn't offensive or completely unpronounceable (looking at you, Elon), the possibilities are wide open.

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