Popular Baby Names: What's Hot in Each Region of the U.S.

Where you live has a major influence on what you name your kids.
Baby Names: Is It Too Popular?
Baby Names: Is It Too Popular?
mother holding baby

Heather Weston

When you relocated from the Midwest to the East Coast after college, you probably weren't thinking about how your new home would one day influence the names of your children. But there's a major connection between where you live and what you name your kids, says Linda Rosenkrantz, cofounder of Nameberry.com. Even your state's place on the political spectrum comes into play. "You'd expect red-state conservatives to use conservative names, but it's quite the opposite," she says. "Blue-state liberals tend to pick conservative names." So babies born in liberal states, such as Massachusetts, tend to have classic names (think Andrew or Katherine), while babies from red states, like Alaska, may have more unusual names, such as Malachi and Destiny. What's your region's spin on baby naming? We sussed out the Social Security Administration's top name lists to find out.

Northeast

You're less likely to see newly minted names like Brantley and Clora making inroads here: Parents in the Northeast tend to stick to more traditional names -- often from Christian tradition -- and gender-neutral names, says Laura Wattenberg, creator of BabyNameWizard.com.

Creative spellings tend to be less popular here as well -- you'll see more Zo?s than Zoeys, more Chloes than Khloes, and more Aidans than Aydins.

Popular Boys' Names:

  • Joseph
  • Benjamin
  • Michael

Joseph: Names for Boys
Joseph: Names for Boys

Popular Girls' Names:

  • Sophia
  • Gianna
  • Charlotte

Sophia: Names for Girls
Sophia: Names for Girls

South

Southern parents are more likely to choose either word or place names for their girls, such as Hope and London. And look for more kids with creatively spelled names (Rylee instead of Riley, for instance), or with newly created names (like Nevaeh) in the South.

Passing down traditional family names through the generations is still alive and well in the south, but preppy cowboy names, such as Bentley and Easton, are hot right now, Wattenberg says.

Popular Boys' Names:

  • James
  • Bentley
  • Brayden

Popular Girls' Names:

  • Brooklyn
  • Aubrey
  • Serenity

Mountain and Pacific Northwest

Given the region's wide-open spaces and gorgeous scenery, it's no wonder that many parents in the Mountain and Pacific Northwest states are drawn to names with a natural, outdoorsy vibe -- like Logan and Lily. And in places with a cowboy culture (e.g., Montana and Oklahoma), any name with a Western hook, like Oakley or Wyatt, will be big, Wattenberg says.

Popular Boys' Names:

  • Wyatt
  • Logan
  • Liam

Liam: Names for Boys
Liam: Names for Boys

Popular Girls' Names:

Harper

Avery

Lily

Harper Names for Girls
Harper Names for Girls

Midwest

The East and West Coasts often set fashion trends, but when it comes to naming, the Midwest picks the up-and-comers. "The sweet, old-fashioned sounding names, such as Ava, first caught on big there," Wattenberg says. Red-hot boys' name Mason also got big in the Midwest before the Kardashians made it popular on the coasts.

Popular Boys' Names:

  • Mason
  • Carter
  • Gavin

Gavin Names for Boys
Gavin Names for Boys

Popular Girls' Names:

  • Lillian
  • Natalie
  • Grace

Southwest

Thanks to neighboring Mexico, Spanish names often rank much higher in the Southwest than in the rest of the country. "In the Spanish Southwest, including California, you'll find crossover names that work in both English and Spanish both, like Sof?a and Victoria," Wattenberg says. "Isabella was hot there even before the rest of the country got on the bandwagon."

Popular Boys' Names:

  • Jos?
  • Gabriel
  • Angel

Carlos
Carlos

Popular Girls' Names:

  • Sof?a
  • Mia
  • Camila

Mia: Names for Girls
Mia: Names for Girls

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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