The Top Baby Names By State Show A Serious Lack Of Diversity For Little Girls

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baby namesWho doesn’t love baby names? Monsters, that’s who. Only horrible, no good people are capable of passing over a story about baby names. Even if you aren’t pregnant, we all love the thought of naming adorable little ones. We love seeings what’s new, what’s popular, and where all the inspiration is coming from. So when I saw that the smart people at iVillage had broken down the top baby names by state, I was excited to get to see how different regions skewed towards certain names.

Here I was thinking that maybe historical context or ethnic diversity might influence the names in different areas. I thought maybe there would be ‘Midwest Names” to compete with “Deep South Names.” I figured that I would get to judge each state by their baby naming choices. Guys, I was really excited for this list!

Then you know what happened? I was completely disappointed. As I started scrolling through, my face just started to drop. Especially when it came to girls, there was just absolutely no diversity at all. I mean, zero! Every state had one of five names as their “Top Name.” That was it. No special local flair. Nothing to judge. For girls, states fell into one of five categories. Here’s the breakdown.

  • Ava: Louisiana
  • Emma: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Wyoming
  • Isabella: Florida, West Virgina
  • Olivia: Alaska, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Utah
  • Sophia: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington,

So your chances of having an Emma or a Sophia are pretty darn high! Those names are all over the place. Just a few states struck out and managed to crown a different winner. I have to say, it’s a little sad.

Boys at least managed to have a few more outliers. They weren’t completely dominated by just a few choices, though there were still a couple overwhelming favorites.

  • Alexander: Connecticut, Illinois
  • Anthony: Nevada
  • Carter: Iowa
  • Jacob: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas
  • Jayden: Florida
  • Liam: Colorado, Vermont
  • Madison: West Virginia
  • Mason: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
  • Michael: Delaware, New Jersey, New York
  • Noah: Hawaii
  • William: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wyoming

Mason and William were obviously the strongest contenders, but we saw Michael make a streak in the Northeast and Jacob dominate in the Southwest. There was at least a little to see here.

One thing is for sure there, for all the yoonique baby names we’ve been hearing about, the dominate names sure aren’t that exciting. And for girls, things are exceedingly condense. I hope the next set of preggos shakes thing up a bit and gives me a more exciting list for next year. I’m counting on you ladies.

(Photo: Sebastian Wahsner/Shutterstock)


  1. C.J.

    October 4, 2012 at 9:34 am

    When I was had my kids I checked the list of most popular names and made sure to not choose anything on the list. I didn’t want them to go to school and have 7 of their classmate have the same name.

    • CW

      October 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      I did that too, but unfortunately the overall popularity rankings are very deceptive. They don’t tell you how popular a given name is within your particular social circle. I thought my son’s name was “safe” because it wasn’t in the top 100 the year he was born. However, it turns out to be ridiculously popular within our social circle. There were 4 other little boys with the same name just within our homeschool support group not to mention all the others I’ve run into at our church, at the playground, at local extracurricular activities, etc.

    • C.J.

      October 5, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      That happened to my friend too. She picked a name she never even heard before and it ended up being really popular. Everyone else must have thought they were picking a name no one else had too. It ended up on the most popular list the next year!

    • Taargus

      October 8, 2012 at 11:25 am

      3 months after I had my daughter, a celebrity named their daughter the same name. It makes me sad because I picked an uncommon but traditional name that was relatively low on the popularity scale (mid-200s according to the Social Security office) and now I’m sure that people will start naming their kids that (and misspelling it for youneekness). Sad times.

  2. Michelle

    October 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I’m married to a Michael. I’m pregnant now and if it’s a boy he will be named Michael. If there are others in his class so be it. He can learn how to be unique and stand out without depending on an unusual name.

    • Lori B.

      October 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

      Michelle and Michael… how cute! As for naming your baby Michael, I love that too. Michael has and seemingly will always be a classic boy name:)

    • Another Steph

      October 5, 2012 at 1:34 am

      In my group of friends, there’s three Daniel’s and about five Michael’s. They all go by different nicknames, but sometimes we say things like, “Are the Michael’s and the Daniel’s coming?” just for the lols.

  3. Mary

    October 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

    My son has a fairly common name but never on the top 10. My daughter, the year she was born, her name was ranked in the 900s, now it’s #41! I thought I was choosing an uncommon name but looks like a lot of people had the same idea.

    • Mary

      October 4, 2012 at 11:37 am

      On another list it’s #93? Not sure how accurate these lists are…

  4. LinZoo

    October 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    You left out Madison: Mississippi

  5. Eileen

    October 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    If I have a kid, I want to name them not the most unusual or exciting names, but old ones that aren’t trendy. The other night my boyfriend mentioned meeting a girl named Madison. I said immediately: “She’s probably about ten years old, right?” Nine. I don’t want my kids to have dated names like that.

  6. LinZoo

    October 4, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Not entirely related, but related to some of the comments: My mom thought we gave our baby a weird name. I assured her that she’d be going to school with nothing but weird-name kids. When I was in school there were always several Jennifers, Michaels, Johns, etc. I told her all the kids of my generation are trying to name their children something unique. So my little one will be in a class full of names that people thought were unique, and her name will therefore be normal!

  7. Ellie

    October 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Coming from a family that obsessively reuses names, I was very determined to NOT do that with our kids. No way were my kids going to be constantly compared to the dozens of predecessors with the same name, plus having to keep coming up with nicknames to keep everyone straight is exhausting. (robert, bob, rob, bert, berty, bruce, lilbob, ect.)
    First thing we did is make a list of all the names we liked. Then we dumped any name that was already in our families. Then we looked at the SSA’s lists of top names for the past 10 years and dumped anything that was in the top 50. Then we started just listening, and came up with two names that are classic, easily spelled and spoken, but very rarely used. Everyone tells us how much they love our kids’ names.

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