Baby names survey reveals nineties names are due a comeback in 2018

baby names smiling baby

A new Mumsnet survey reveals this year’s baby name trends (and yep, you guessed it – more babies are being named 'Gareth' following the World Cup)

Ahead of the annual ONS announcement on baby names, a brand new Mumsnet survey has revealed this year’s most (and least) popular baby names. You probably won't be surprised that names like Sharon and and Diane have taken a back seat, nor that ever-popular Daniel and Samuel are still fighting strong. There have been some, ahem, interesting baby name choices made this year, too (we're talking Star Trek and Scottish kings), but it's fair to say that the clear winner in 2018's baby name rankings has been 90s-inspired names.

90s baby names take the lead

Mumsnetters’ responses reveal that baby names from the 90s could be about to make a comeback. When showed a list of ONS’s top boys’ and girls’ names from 1994, 63% of Mumsnetters liked or loved ‘James’ (number two in 1994, now number 12) and ‘Charlotte’ (number four in 1994, now number 12). Other 1994 names that are widely liked include:

  • Daniel (number 4 in 1994, now 28), loved or liked by 57%
  • Emma (number 8 in 1994, now 53), loved or liked by 49%
  • Samuel (number 9 in 1994, now 24), loved or liked by 49%
  • Luke (number 8 in 1994, now 59), loved or liked by 47%
  • Hannah (was number 5, now number 57), loved or liked by 45%.

Unsurprisingly, names from ONS 1964 baby names list remain broadly unpopular. The most popular names are ‘Jane’ (liked or loved by 17%) and ‘Helen’ (23%). Just 10% liked or loved ‘Susan’, and 9% liked or loved ‘Jacqueline’ and ‘Deborah’.

60s baby names dying out

Some 1964 girls’ names such as Diane, Tracey and Sharon are close to dying out altogether: of all the girls’ names from 1994 and 1964, Tracey and Sharon were the two that Mumsnetters said they would be least likely to use if they had a baby girl tomorrow.

Our survey shows that boys’ names from 1964 have a bit more sticking power than girls’. ‘Andrew’ remains fairly popular, with 45% saying they love or like it, and ‘David’ (35% love or like), ‘Michael’ (28%) and ‘John’ (25%) are still in the baby name running. The biggest loser is ‘Ian’, number 8 in 1964 but loved or liked by just 9% today and actively disliked by 76%.

World Cup baby name fever

The Mumsnet survey suggests that England’s World Cup run this summer could also start to filter through into baby naming decisions over the next couple of years. In a tribute to the captain, ‘Harry’ is the best-liked of the England squad’s names, cited as favourite by 18%, while 12% go for each of ‘Ruben’ and ‘Jack’. 25% felt more positive about the name ‘Gareth’ after the World Cup than they had before it (even if only 5% said the goal-fest in Russia made them more likely to buy a waistcoat).

Baby name themes – what would you choose?

Another trend is naming themes, with 29% saying they adopt a particular style for all their babies’ names. Almost a quarter (23%) of those say they use names related to a particular country, culture or heritage; 18% say they choose family names; and 11% say they always attempt alliteration. Unusual themes included ‘Scottish kings’, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘car-related’ – so if your child is friends with a little Fforde-Probe, now you know why.

Several respondents said they’d contributed to the ‘theme’ trend by accident:

We accidentally gave both our children names ending with ‘in’. We have been informed by family that the next one must be called Tarquin. We have now decided not to have any more children.

We didn’t mean to do this but inadvertently ended up with three whose names begin with the same first letter.

10% say they use only Biblical names, perhaps explaining why Luke, Samuel and Daniel are making a comeback along with the current crop of Noahs, Jacobs and Thomases.

Baby name regret

Whatever era or theme parents chose, 15% admitted they regretted their choice after their trip to the registrar. Of those, 30% say it’s because the name is too common, 15% say it causes their child problems with spelling, and 10% say they never liked it and felt pressured into using it.

Mumsnet Founder, Justine Roberts, said: “Naming trends tend to go in cycles, but it’s taken 80 years or so for Ivy, Mabel and Noah to become popular again, so it’s interesting to see nineties names coming back so quickly. Given the current resurgence in wedge trainers and ‘classic’ mobile phones, all that remains is to put Parklife into your CD Walkman and dig out your MySpace log-in.”