Choosing a baby name can feel like the ultimate responsibility. You scour websites and blogs, dig through books and magazines, hunting down that perfect moniker that transcends time (and is better than all the other kids’ names in class). But baby names don’t exist in a vacuum; in fact, they’re affected by nearly everything — pop culture, world news, celebrity antics, current and past naming trends, and parents’ own experiences. When predicting baby name trends for 2023, Romper investigated exactly what parents are searching for these days, and spoke with an expert who specializes in all things naming.
While the most frequently used names of 2022 haven’t been released yet, The Social Security Administration reports the top 10 names from 2021 for boys and girls are:
- Liam & Olivia
- Noah & Emma
- Oliver & Charlotte
- Elijah & Amelia
- James & Ava
- William & Sophia
- Benjamin & Isabella
- Lucas & Mia
- Henry & Evelyn
- Theodore & Harper
How might these rankings change in the new year? Here are Romper’s predictions for the biggest baby name trends of 2023. Spoiler alert: Beth is coming for Harper’s spot.
More baby names ending in “a”
Many of the most popular baby names of 2021 ended in a, according to the Social Security Administration. Certain sounds tend to trend because they make us feel one emotion or another.
“There are so many reasons why people follow certain trends: some are linguistic and have to do with sound, but more often than not, it has to do with emotion, and your emotional responses to particular sounds,” says Emily Rine Butler, Ph.D., director and instructional professor at the Dial Center for Written & Oral Communication at the University of Florida. Butler teaches an entire course on naming practices.
Some names in the top 10 girls’ names that end in “a” are Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia, Isabella, and Mia. Let’s not forget Noah and Elijah, which obviously end in ‘h,’ but have the same sound as the rest (in linguistics, it’s called the schwa sound).
“Why are we seeing the As? Sounds that lift, like at the end of Olivia or Amelia, are considered more positive,” Butler said. “There’s this idea of certain sounds giving certain emotions, like Emily, Mia, anything with the long ‘e’ sound, your mouth goes into almost a smile, which is why so many diminutives include it — baby, puppy. It’s cute.”
New names ending in “a” may catch on, and variations on those that are already popular may surge, particularly names that change that sound to the happy long “e,” Butler said. For example, Elsa could become Elsie, or Sophia, Sophie.
Parents are also Googling names like these at high rates, with Romper seeing the most traffic to these name roundups:
- 20 Baby Names If You Like Noah, But Want Something Less Trendy
- 15 Other Baby Names Like Olivia, If You Like Its Sound & Meaning
- 22 Baby Names If You Love Isabella, But Already Know Too Many
- 35 Baby Names If You Like Emma, But Want Something Different
- 24 Baby Names Like Isla If You Want Something Different
- 26 Baby Names Like Sophia In Sound Or Meaning
A side note: expectant parents have also flocked to Romper’s collection of baby names that start with ‘T’ in record numbers over the last three years. So, don’t be surprised if you start seeing names like Thalia trending (fans of The White Lotus, we know you’re thinking of Tanya).
Western baby names
Yellowstone was the most watched series on American cable TV in 2022, Variety reports, and it may very well contribute to a new generation of cow pokes with Western-sounding names, including one fan-favorite character.
“I think there will be a resurgence of Beth from a Yellowstone effect, because the character embodies strength, but the name is considered very feminine because of its relationship to Elizabeth,” Butler says.
Romper’s collections of Southern baby boy names and Southern girl names saw huge leaps in their number of visitors from 2021 to 2022. BabyCenter also reports two other Yellowstone characters’ names — Rip and Kayce — have jumped up 300 and 500 positions in their popularity rankings. Dutton, Stetson, Wyatt, Waylon, and Walker also made notable leaps up the chart, the site reported.
So, if you’ve ever felt the call of the Wild West when it comes to naming your newborn, 2023 may be the year to saddle up and do it. If you happen to love a T name and a down-home moniker, consider Tex, Tatum, or Tilly.
Strong female lead baby names
With Beth Dutton in mind, parents may be drawn to similarly strong, beloved characters from this year’s biggest shows. The White Lotus alone is a goldmine for names ending in “a”: Lucia, Mia, and Valentina, and Daphne harnesses Butler’s forecasted long “e” sound.
Wednesday could also have a moment thanks to the hit Netflix series. *Snap snap.*
Old people baby names
Coastal grandmother fashion and interior design took over TikTok this year, and in 2023, the Ezras, Edies, and Maes could pop up on the baby name landscape, too.
There’s no doubt that parents are searching for their perfect baby name in generations past. Romper’s data shows major increases in visits to our collections of classic baby names between 2020 and today:
- 114 Vintage Baby Names That’ll Never Go Out Of Style
- 31 “Old Man” Baby Names Your Partner Will Hate
- Jane Austen Fans Will Love These Regency Baby Names
- 20 Perfectly Proper Tudor Baby Names
Of course, there are countless name options new parents could borrow from centuries past. Butler predicts so-called “old people names” related to pop culture and nostalgia might stand out from the rest in 2023.
“We’re going to see more baby Ruths,” she said. “I think we’ll see the rise of Mildred, and anything associated with The Golden Girls: Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia, which is already popular. It’s nostalgic, and nostalgia will always bring things back.”
If you’re looking for baby name inspiration from back in the day, revisit popular names from two or more generations ago. “Everything old becomes new again,” Butler says. “Who you see being successful can trigger the resurgence of a name, or having a phoneme in common with a name you like. I usually say, if you give it two generations, it’s new again.”
Slight variations on what’s popular now
Many parents like certain aspects of popular names — a sound, a letter, or a meaning — but don’t want their kid to have the same name as three other kids in their kindergarten class. So, they’ll look for something similar.
In 2023, Butler predicts fans of the currently No. 4-ranked Elijah might favor Ethan, those interested in No. 5 James could opt for Jamie, and all the No. 8 Lucas lovers will trade it for Lucian. Romper’s visitors have certainly been interested in same-but-different versions of the top 10 names of the year, with readers flocking to collections of names similar to Luke, James, and Evelyn.
During the pandemic, people around the world turned to nature for solace — it was safe, soothing, and not the inside of your own home, for a change. It spawned many trends, from cottagecore fashion to mushroom-inspired home décor, and baby names were not exempt.
Between 2020 and 2022, Romper had hundreds of thousands of visits to roundups like:
- 32 Lovely Ocean-Inspired Names For Your Baby Girl
- 35 Flower Names For Girls That Are Totally Swoon-Worthy
- 21 Earthy Baby Girl Names For Your Little Force Of Nature
- These Baby Names Are Sweet Choices For Your Spring Girl
- These Baby Girl Names Have Total Summer Vibes
Taylor Swift’s latest album, Midnights, happens to include the name Daisy Mae, so if you’re interested in natural-leaning, Southern-sounding options, she may have created the perfect one. If you’re looking for names starting with “T” and ending with “a,” Terra and Thalia are standout earthy baby name choice for you. Sierra, Dahlia, and Mira could be poised for comebacks, too.
Short, unisex baby names
Asa, Wren, and Quinn seem like far cries from 2022’s popular baby names, but some of Romper’s top-performing baby name collections from 2020 to 2022 focus on short, unisex monikers like these:
- 24 Short, Modern Baby Girl Names That Are Unique & Special
- These Androgynous Baby Names Are Getting Super Popular
- 52 Short & Sweet Middle Names For Girls
Popular baby names in the last 10 years have skewed longer, Butler said, but beginning next year, we may see them drop to fewer syllables as parents crave something new.
“Up until the mid-‘90s, people were liking two syllables ending in ‘n’, like Lauren. Now names have become what we’d say are more floral or complex as a reaction to that,” she said.
Astrological baby names
If you’re looking to the stars for hints of what your baby’s personality might be like, you’re not alone. Over the last three years, parents have flocked to Romper roundups of baby names based on their astrological signs, with these collections seeing the biggest upticks:
- These 19 Leo Baby Names Are Perfect For Your Fierce Little Girl
- These 20 Leo Baby Boy Names Are Just Right For Your Little Leader
- 34 Aries-Inspired Baby Names For Your Strong-Willed Child
- 30 Names For Your Taurus Baby
- These 45 Capricorn Baby Names Are The G.O.A.T.
It seems like parents of future fire and earth signs are searching for sign-inspired names the most, but maybe water and air sign parents will join the fun in 2023.
Meaningful baby names
Butler acknowledges that some names will always be popular because of their religious, social, cultural, or emotional connotations. Of course, when choosing something as special as your child’s name, many parents look for monikers with special meaning.
In the last three years, three collections of special names have risen to the top of Romper’s baby name archive. These choices will have you in your feels, and some of them happen to align with other forthcoming trends.
- 27 Baby Names That Mean “Blessing” — Shia stands out here, and there’s just something about Mateo...
- 25 Baby Names That Mean “Happy” — Lookin’ at you, Tate.
- 18 Unique Baby Names That Mean “Wise” — For nature-lovers who love short names meaning wisdom, Sage and Rae truly have it all. Butler’s pick, Ethan, also makes an appearance.
Whether you like to keep with the times or steer clear of baby name trends altogether, keep an eye on these up-and-comers.
Emily Rine Butler, Ph.D., director and instructional professor at the Dial Center for Written & Oral Communication at the University of Florida