WASHINGTON – Noah sailed past Jacob to become the most popular baby name for boys in 2013, ending Jacob’s 14-year run at the top. Sophia was the most popular baby name for girls for the third straight year.
The Social Security Administration announced the most popular baby names Friday. Noah was followed by Liam, Jacob, Mason and William. Sophia was followed by Emma, Olivia, Isabella and Ava.
The rise of Noah and Liam shows a trend toward names with smooth sounds, said Laura Wattenberg, creator of Babynamewizard.com.
You compare Jacob with all its hard, punchy consonants, versus Noah and Liam, you can really see where style is heading, Wattenberg said.
She also noted that the most popular baby names aren’t nearly as popular as they used to be. For example, a little more than 18,000 babies born last year were named Noah. In 1950, when James was No. 1, there were more than 86,000 newborns with that name.
About 21,000 newborns were named Sophia last year. In 1950, more than 80,000 were named Linda, the top name for girls that year.
In the past, most parents were picking from a pretty well-defined set of names, Wattenberg said. Literally for hundreds of years, the English royal names dominated. You had John and Mary and James and Elizabeth.
Today, she said, we get names everywhere.
Jacob rose to No. 1 in 1999. In the 45 years before that, Michael was king for all but one.