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Investigation 4 minute read

Baby names: Does the age of the parents impact the name they choose?

Deciding when to have a child can be a difficult decision, but does the age you bring a baby into the world impact the type of name you choose?
Lesley-Anne Kelly
A picture of a data chart showing Age of father on one axis and age of mother on another with a picture of a baby

Deciding when to have a child can be a difficult decision, but does the age you bring a baby into the world impact the type of name you choose?

Are older parents more likely to go with traditional names? Are younger parents more likely to want that unique moniker, or more likely to take inspiration from pop culture trends?

We got our hands on exclusive data from the National Records of Scotland via Freedom of Information on the average ages of the parents responsible for the top 100 baby boy and girl names for the past five years and found some interesting trends.

This scatter plot shows the top 100 baby girl names in 2020 by the average ages of the parents.

Names in the top right corner indicate older parents…

…and names in the bottom left corner indicate younger parents.

In 2020, baby girls named Rebecca had the oldest parents on average with an average mum’s age of 34.2 and dad’s age of 37.1.

The name Rebecca has been ever present in Scotland, making it a classic or traditional name.

It peaked in 1994 – Is this a favourite childhood name for the millennials now having babies?

Close behind Rebecca were the girls names Nina…

…Anna…

…and Iona.

Which are all names that have been ever-present since 1974, with Anna and Iona both also peaking in the early noughties.

At the younger end of the girls names was Harley which had an average mum’s age of 27.2 and average dads age of 30.1.

Harley was used for the first time in 1985, but didn’t start to gain prominence until after 2010.

For boys, the name with the oldest parents on average was Matthew – with an average mums age of 34.1 and dads age of 36.3.

Matthew is a biblical name meaning “gift of God” and has been popular in Scotland every year since 1974…

…but has been in decline since 1997.

At the youngest end of the scale for boys was Elijah with an average mum’s age of 27.6 and dads age of 29.3.

Elijah had only been used in Scotland a handful of times prior to the noughties, and didn’t start to gain popularity until 2010.

You can explore the trend yourself for baby girls for the past five years using the chart below. Other baby girl names at the younger end of the scale in 2020 were Lilly, Layla and Hallie.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in the TV programme Game of Thrones.
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. (HBO)

In 2019, the names Nova and Aria appear at the younger end of the scale, with the latter no doubt inspired by the popular Game of Thrones character.

For boys, other names close to the older parent end of the scale were Samuel, Hamish, Daniel and Benjamin. Whereas the younger end of the boys scale in 2020 included Tommy, Carter, Jaxon and Riley. Explore the full trend using the chart below.

Baby names data

The data is based on the top 100 names used in each year and is not fully conclusive as some mothers and fathers ages were not available. The National Records of Scotland noted in their response to our Freedom of Information request that the age of the mother was missing in 0.1% of cases, whereas the father’s age was missing in 3.82% of cases.

We have summarised the trend for oldest and youngest parents of baby girls in Scotland in the chart below.

And the chart below summarises the trend for baby boys.

Want to take a look at all of the data provided in the FOI response? We’ve put the whole thing into a searchable table below and the complete raw data can be found on the data team Github page.

Do you have a unique name? Or an interesting story behind why you picked the name for your baby? Get in touch with us if you’re interested in being featured in future articles in this series – datateam@dctmedia.co.uk


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