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The Baby Name That Topped The List For 16 Years Before Crashing Out

Each year, the states and territories around Australia reveal the top names given to babies in the previous year.

Analysing baby names at any point in history paints an interesting picture of that era. The Builders generation (born before 1945) chose traditional names such as Peter, Paul, John, Karen, Jennifer or Sharon.

What about George? (Image: Getty)

Jump to the 1980s and the Baby Boomers began to be more creative with their names. This was around the time when baby name books started to emerge.

'Melissa' means 'bee'. (Image: Getty)

Today’s parents have more access to information than at any other time in history. Parents are inundated with options, research and meaning, all impacting the names they choose for their children.

A name today is more than what teachers will call you at school. It is your digital real estate in an increasingly technological world.

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In 2018, there were just more than 300,000 babies born in Australia. About one in 10 Australian newborns were given one of the top 10 baby names.

Stormi, Apple, or North West? (Image: Getty)
Charlotte and Oliver maintain their reign

Charlotte, the name given to 1,673 Australian baby girls in 2018, has been crowned the number one baby name since overtaking Olivia in 2015.

Oliver, the name given to 2,134 Australian baby boys in 2018, has enjoyed an uninterrupted six years at the top spot since overtaking Jack in 2013.

Top names in recent decades

Jessica

Jessica was Australia’s most popular girl's name for 16 years from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. In the mid 1990s, approximately one in every 30 girls born in Australia was named Jessica.

Rarely in the modern era has a name so dominant fallen so fast -- Jessica reigned in the 1990s and early 2000s, and yet just a decade from its peak, it has dropped out of the top 100.

This shows how in the modern era parents are looking for uniqueness. Such strong popularity in a name can be the source of its own demise.

Joshua

From the mid 1990s until 2003, Joshua was the most popular boy's name in Australia.

Not since the dominance of David in the 1960s or Michael in the 1970s has a boy name had such a popular run.  However, since then, the popularity of Joshua has been consistently falling. In 2018, Joshua was ranked at 34th.

Jessica? Please. That's so 1998. (Image: Getty)

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Parents opting for uniqueness

Compared to previous decades, parents in the 2010s have been opting for more creative choices for their children’s names.

Just one generation ago, in 1987, when the average first-time mothers of today were born, 22 percent of babies born in NSW were given one of the top 10 baby names.

Today, just 10 percent of babies were given one of the top 10 baby names.

When looking back another generation, in 1957, 30 percent of babies born in NSW were given one of the top 10 baby names.

This means, just over 60 years ago, parents were three times more likely to give their baby a name in the top 10.

Year Births in NSW # babies given top 10 name in NSW % babies given top 10 name in NSW
1957 79,456 23,910 30
1987 86,093 18,544 22
2018 91,411 8,696 10

Parents today have far more access to names compared to those of previous generations.

It was in the 1980s when baby name books started to emerge, and baby name lists were compiled. Prior to this, baby names were influenced by family traditions and religious persuasion.

Since the internet emerged, there has been an explosion of blogs, websites and even baby naming apps. Baby name websites include not only baby name lists, but also baby name search engines.

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Such websites allow you to not only find a name but search the history of that name and suitable sibling name options.

We are now aware of more than just the names we grew up with. Beyond just Australian names, baby names today are increasingly global.

What drives this desire to be unique?

The average first-time-parents of today were born in or approaching the early 1990s. These parents are likely to have grown up with several Matthews, Chrises, Sarahs and Jessicas in their class. In today’s digitally connected world, your name is more than what your teacher calls you. Your name is now your social media handle, your personal brand and your web domain.

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McCrindle analyses this list each year to produce the annual Baby Names Australia Report.