Baby names: Where you live could shape what you call your baby

The most popular names for babies have been revealed.
The most popular names for babies have been revealed.

One of the challenges for any new parent is finding a name for their baby.

Baby names are different across the world, for cultural and for religious reasons.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis shows that names given to babies differ even by local authority within England and Wales.

Last year, there were 679,106 live births, with babies being given 63,697 distinct names and with just 73 unique names ranking first across 347 local areas.

The top 10 boys’ names nationally were given to 13% of all boys born last year, whereas the top 10 girls’ names were given to 10% of girls. Since there are so many different names given to babies, even the most popular names are only given to a relatively small proportion of all babies named overall.

Analysis suggests that boys’ names are more homogenous, with there being a comparatively narrower selection of names (7,000 fewer) despite there being 17,000 more boys than girls born in 2017.

Boys’ names

Last year, new parents across England and Wales called 348,071 newborn boys one of 28,222 unique names.

In Wakefield, the most popular name, given to 48 baby boys in 2017, was Oliver.

The name given in the district to 31 girls was Olivia.

The top three boys’ names in 2017 were Oliver, Harry and George.

These three names ranked first in 63% of local authorities1 across England and Wales, suggesting that these names are broadly popular across the whole country. There were 30 other boys’ names ranked first in local authorities, including Jack, Muhammad and Noah.

The names Jack and Noah ranked first in 17 and 15 different local authorities respectively, and came fifth and fourth overall in the top names rankings for England and Wales as a whole. Muhammad was the highest ranked boys’ name in 35 local authority areas, but overall is only the tenth most popular name in England and Wales, suggesting that its popularity is specific to certain areas.

Muhammad and other similar spellings are common Muslim names that frequently feature in the top 100.

Muhammad is also the name that makes up the highest proportion of names given to boys in any given local area. In Pendle in Lancashire, 9.9% of baby boys born in 2017 – 60 out of 606 – were called Muhammad.