By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
So you think the baby boomer-era hippies gave their kids unusual names? Well, it’s happening again.
The state Health Department just released its annual list of popular baby names, and the most notable thing about the list is that the most popular names are not all that popular.
The top names right now are Mason and Sophia. However, Mason was given to only 1 percent of baby boys in Washington and Sophia was bestowed on only 1.1 percent of baby girls.
A state Department of Health spokeswoman said parents today are choosing more creative names than their own parents did in the 1980s.
Back then, first grade classrooms were packed with kids named Jennifer, Jessica, Amanda, Michael, Christopher and Matthew.
A few years from now, first grade teachers will have many students named Sophia, Olivia, Emma, Mason, Liam and Alexander, but they won’t have to deal with Jen, Jenn, Jenny, Jennie and Jennifer.
The name Mason moved to the number one slot from the 11th most popular name for baby boys in 2010 and Liam moved to second place from eighth place. The top 10 list for baby girls is nearly the same as in 2010. Sophia is ranked number one and Olivia is number two, a switcheroo from the previous year.
Today, less than half of names for baby boys come from the top 100 names list, and only about a third of names for baby girls are among the top 100. In 1980, nearly 73 percent of all baby boys had names in the top 100 names, and about 53 percent of girls had one of the top 100 names for that year.
At the end of each year, the state releases the list of top 100 baby names from the year before.
So, in 2011, the top 25 boys names in Washington state were:
Mason, Liam, Alexander, Ethan, Jacob, Daniel, Noah, William, Logan, Benjamin, Jackson, Michael, David, Gabriel, Aiden, Jayden, Samuel, James, Elijah, Andrew, Wyatt, Landon, Lucas, Owen and Henry.
The top 25 girls names given in 2011 were:
Sophia, Olivia, Emma, Isabella, Emily, Ava, Abigail, Madison, Chloe, Elizabeth, Ella, Natalie, Grace, Evelyn, Mia, Brooklyn, Lily, Amelia, Addison, Samantha, Zoe, Zoey, Lillian, Audrey and Charlotte.
Biblical names and last names for first names remain fairly popular among young parents, as do the names of celebrities. And some of the names given harken back to the eras of the babies’ grandparents or great-grandparents.
The list of popular baby names in Washington generally is the same as the list of names given nationwide.
Alissa Lawton, 28, is the sports coordinator for children ages 3 through 8 at the Mill Creek YMCA. She sees a lot of kids named Mason, Logan, Chloe and Olivia. Her YMCA team rosters also include names such as Zaphiel and Khailiyah.
“I think it is true that people are trying to give their kids unique names or spellings,” said Lawton, of Mill Creek. “For example, we see a lot of boys named Jackson, but also spelled Jaxon.”
Lawton and her husband, Craig, have two girls, Makena, 3, and Corinne, 6 months.
Makena is named for an inspirational deaf classmate from college, but spelled like the beach where the Lawtons spent their honeymoon on the island of Maui.
In Lake Stevens, Hillary Laswell, 28, has two kids, Olivia Pouliot, 4, and Cooper King, 10 months.
“Actually, I was trying to be original with Olivia’s name, but then I found out it wasn’t unusual at all,” Laswell said. “Cooper was not my first choice for my son. It was Colby. But when he was born, Olivia ran around telling everybody that ‘Cooper just popped out.’ That settled it.”
Among other information gathered in 2011 by the state Depart of Health, the number of pregnant mothers who smoke is down to about 9 percent, but the number of pregnant women with gestational diabetes went up to about 6 percent. Teen pregnancies and births dropped about 30 percent from 2008 to 2011.
Fewer girls were born in 2011 in Washington — 42,325, compared to 44,604 boys. A steady decline in births coincides with the economic downturn, state officials said. Nearly 87,000 babies were born in 2011 compared to about 90,000 in 2008. The largest number of births was among mothers 25 to 29 years old.
Birth tables for 2011 and prior years, along with popular baby names for several years are available at http://tinyurl.com/WashingtonBabyNames.
Popular baby names from the past several decades in the United States are available at http://tinyurl.com/USBabyNames.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.