State health officials are releasing the list of the most popular names Iowans picked for their newborns last year. Liam topped the baby boys’ list while Emma is the number-one name for girls. Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says some parents clearly follow the trends while others make a point to go their own way.
“Parents may pick names on the basis of family members, on the basis of popular figures in the media or the entertainment world,” Miller-Meeks says. “They may pick them because they’ve seen a trend in names over a period of years and they want to be different.”
Iowa’s top five names for boys last year are: Liam, Mason, Carter, Owen and William, while for the girls they are: Emma, Sophia, Olivia, Harper and Ava. Emma has topped the Iowa baby name list eight of the past 11 years.
“We see a trend back to names that people would consider more traditional or old-fashioned, such as Olivia and Sophia and Emma,” Miller-Meeks says. “And again, media may drive this. We see a lot of names that are in some of the Jane Austen novels.”
As for recent novels — and movies — the lead female of the popular “Twilight” series is Bella. In Iowa, Isabella was the 12th most popular girls’ name in 2012. Noting there was no Mariannette anywhere on the list, Miller-Meeks laughs and says she’s not disappointed:
“Not at all. It’s a long name and I would hate to encumber any infant with trying to spell Mariannette.”