Hailey Murray is a writer, editor, speaker and birth doula. She is also the Managing Editor of this year’s Informed Pregnancy® Guide, and a proud mother to her two-year-old son Hugh. You can follow Hailey on Twitter @Hailey_Murray.

Fun Facts – Baby Names

Compiled by Hailey Murray and Sarah Selva


The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a publicly-accessible list of the most popular names given to babies each year, beginning from 1880! Today, with approximately four million new babies being born in the US each year, compiling the list is no simple task. The most recent year for which complete data is available is 2012. Here’s a comparison of the top baby names in 2012 compared to 1912, as well as the most popular names for babies born in California in 2012:


Top 10 girls names (US) 1912

  1. Mary

  2. Helen

  3. Dorothy

  4. Margaret

  5. Ruth

  6. Mildred

  7. Anna

  8. Elizabeth

  9. Frances

  10. Marie


Top 10 girls names (US) 2012

  1. Sophia

  2. Emma

  3. Isabella

  4. Olivia

  5. Ava

  6. Emily

  7. Abigail

  8. Mia

  9. Madison

  10. Elizabeth


Top 10 girls names (CA) 2012

  1. Sophia

  2. Isabella

  3. Emma

  4. Emily

  5. Mia

  6. Olivia

  7. Sofia

  8. Abigail

  9. Samantha

  10. Camila


Top 10 boys names (US) 1912

  1. John

  2. William

  3. James

  4. Robert

  5. Joseph

  6. George

  7. Charles

  8. Edward

  9. Frank

  10. Thomas


Top 10 boys names (US) 2012

  1. Jacob

  2. Mason

  3. Ethan

  4. Noah

  5. William

  6. Liam

  7. Jayden

  8. Michael

  9. Alexander

  10. Aiden


Top 10 boys names (CA) 2012

  1. Jacob

  2. Jayden

  3. Daniel

  4. Ethan

  5. Matthew

  6. Noah

  7. Anthony

  8. Alexander

  9. Nathan

  10. David


Names that held the #1 position most often in the 100 years from 1913-2012:



43 years - Mary (1913-1946 and 1953-1961)

14 years - Jennifer (1970-1984)

12 years - Emily (1996-2007)

  9 years - Jessica (1985-1990 and 1993-1995)

  8 years - Lisa (1962-1969)

  6 years - Linda (1947-1952)



44 years- Michael (1954-1959 and 1961-1998)

17 years - Robert (1924-1939 and 1953)

14 years - Jacob (1999-2012)

13 years - James (1940-1952)

11 years - John (1913-1923)


Baby Naming Tips


If you’re still haunted by years of being “Jennifer S.” and you want to give your child a unique name, it pays to take a very close look at the SSA database. For example, if you love the name Jaiden, you’ll probably feel happy to know it only ranked 207th in the list of 2012 boy’s names, with just 1,813 Jaidens born across the US. But if you count alternative spellings of “Jaiden” that also made the top 1000 (in 2012, they included Jayden, Jaden, Jaeden, Jaydon, and Jadon) that 1,813 becomes 21,532!


If you then add names in the top 1000 that rhyme with Jaiden (meet Aiden, Ayden, Aidan, Aden, Adan, Aaden, Aydan, Brayden, Braden, Braydon, Braeden, Braiden, Kayden, Kaden, Kaiden, Kaedan, Caden, Cayden, Caiden, Hayden, Zayden, Zaiden, Raiden and Rayden) the number explodes to 81,742. That’s not even counting the sound-alikes that don’t exactly rhyme with Jaiden (Jason, Jayson, Jalen, Jaxton and Jaylin, among others…) or the three rhyming names that made the top 1000 for girls – Jayden, Kayden and Hayden – or are sound-alikes (Jazlyn, Jaelyn, Jaelynn, Jaylee, Jaylynn, Jaylin, Jazzlyn and more...)


The good news? While the trend towards “creative” naming might make it harder to gauge the true popularity of a name without taking a very close look at the full SSA “top 1000,” it has also resulted in a much greater pool of names for parents to choose from – even all the variations of “-ayden” names combined don’t come close, percentage-wise, to the popularity of Mary, Jennifer, John or Robert in earlier generations. That said, if you feel strongly about giving your child a name that they won’t have to share with a classmate, it’s now a safer bet to go with Robert (#61 in 2012) over the more popular Jayden, Aiden, Landon, Carter, Brayden, Hunter or Jordan. Also safer to go with Jennifer (#163!) over the more popular Addison, Harper, Taylor, Serenity, Genesis, London, Payton, Rylee, Jordyn, Hadley, or Brooklynn.