Baby names! After eight consecutive years, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has declared ‘Oliver’ top of the list when it comes to new baby boy names.

4,525 baby boys took the increasingly popular name in 2022, thus moving to the top spot for the first time. Since 1996, Noah has been steadily rising in popularity, which could be down to a couple of factors. SJ Strum, who founded the parenting podcast Baby Name Envy, gives credit to the 2004 romance film The Notebook, in which the male lead is named Noah. Strum also adds:

So many new parents for its blend of traditional and pop culture associations. It’s traditionally a symbol of new beginnings, which after [the coronavirus] pandemic feels so meaningful.

SJ Strum, founder of Baby Name Envy

Statistics in England and Wales show Olivia remaining the most popular name for girls for the sixth year in a row. While Brody and Olive were noticeably big movers (rising 36 and 25 places), the name Olivia was given to 3,649 baby girls and continues to be the most popular since 2016. In terms of the latest top ten, entries include Willow and Henry – kicking out Jack for the first time since 1996.

Other statistics found Freya, Florence and Willow replaced Isabella, Rosie and Sophia in the top 10 names for girls. Lara, Beatrice and Sara were new entries in the top 100 for girls. While in the boys’ list, Brody and Rupert made it into the top 100 names for the first time, along with Kai, Tobias, Nathan and Blake. Regionally, Muhammad was found to be the most popular boy’s name in four regions. Olivia was the most popular name in Wales and every English region except the East Midlands, where Amelia came top.

Some of the names less in vogue include Glenda and Kerry, where fewer than five girls were named every year since 2018. Clifford, Nigel and Norman have become significantly unpopular with less than 10 boys taking the name. Leslie is among the least popular with fewer than seven babies given that name each year since 2018.

While nothing can be said for certain regarding parental choices, evidence seems to indicate that popular culture plays a part. After the release of Disney Pixar’s 2021 film Luca the name jumped to 28th most popular and was given to 1,807 babies last year, compared to 1,323 in 2020.

Matching this trend, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon movie saw registrations of the name more than double in one year.

Interestingly, popstars also seem to be influencing a rise in less common names. There were 14 times the number of baby boys named Ezra (George Ezra), alongside a steady rise in Bowie and Ziggy (David Bowie). Even the name Lilibet has made a slight incline since the birth of The Duke of Sussex’s second child. As James Tucker, from the ONS, said:

Popular culture continues to influence parents’ baby name choices.

James Tucker, Office of National Statistics

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