Baby naming is a serious responsibility. Too popular and you run the risk of your child being one of five Olivias on the pre-school register; too unusual and you could set them up for a lifetime of mispronunciation.
To help parents-to-be find a balance between unique and on-trend names, BabyCentre has revealed the top baby names of 2021, the biggest trends providing inspiration to parents as well as the monikers so unpopular that they actually run the risk of extinction.
While there was a change at the top of the girls’ chart, with Olivia reclaiming the crown at the top spot after falling back to second place last year, Muhammad held strong for another year in pole position as it proved to be the most popular boys name again with mums and dads.
For the most popular names, parents took inspiration from superheroes and sporting heroes, plus there has been a greater move towards gender neutrality as unisex names saw a spike in registrations.
After a year that started with lockdown, parents looked to names that symbolised new beginnings for their little ones.
Both meaning new, Nova for the girls and Neo for the boys were popular choices outside the top lists.
On a similar theme rising from the difficult times at the start of the year, Phoenix hopped up for both boys and girls.
Despite falling this year, Aurora and Eden still held strong inside the top 100, inspiring parents with their meanings of dawn and paradise.
Eve and Blossom also rose in registrations for the girls, potentially reflecting parents’ desire for new beginnings.
In another year where the pandemic dominated headlines, it's hardly surprising mums and dads-to-be were influenced by the news.
The coronavirus vaccine set the UK on a path to freedom and one of the women who made it possible was Sarah Gilbert, who helped to develop the Oxford vaccine. This made Sarah a popular choice this year, and saw the moniker scoot up five places to number 42.
Babycentre said parents were particularly influenced by binge-worthy content watched during lockdown, with superhero names sent flying up the registrations in 2021 as the Marvel and DC franchises dominated film and TV.
Even Marvel itself made its mark as the number of baby boys named after the franchise quadrupled. Loki doubled in registrations outside the top 100 while Loki TV series character Sylvie climbed in the girls’ rankings.
Other popular lockdown shows had an influence too with Bridgerton sending Penelope flying up the list, while Netflix favourites You and Sex Education brought us baby names too with Love, Henry, Theo, Otis and Eric all climbing the charts.
Other trends saw travel-inspired wanderlust names becoming more popular, such as Devon and Skye, no doubt in part due to this year's limitations on travel.
Rio, Jordan, Cairo, Israel, Milan, Orlando, Jericho, Everest and Jett all took flight for the boys. Afrika has had its first appearance this year. And for the girls, it was all about Florence, India, Ocean and Destiny, with holiday destinations proving popular for name-spo.
Gender-neutral monikers also were a hit with new mums and dads, with Willow going up four places to number 20 in the top 100 girls’ chart and climbing outside the top 100 for boys too.
Meanwhile Blake soared up 12 positions to number 82 in the boys’ chart and was up for girls outside the top 100. Noah was also a big favourite for boys and girls this year, holding on to the second position in the top 100 for boys and up outside the top 100 for girls too.
As well as highlighting the monikers parents have been loving this year, the baby naming experts also threw light on those that have fallen out of favour.
The names that parents are shunning that didn’t receive any registrations this year include Piers, Elliott, Clive, Maurice, Roger, Clifford, Dwayne, Vernon and Daryl.
For girls, the zero registrations list included Maud, Tina, Pauline, Doreen, Doris, Edna, Glynis, Bertha, Kerry and Gertrude.
"Parents don’t just reflect popular trends with their baby name picks, what they don’t choose can be just as revealing," says Sarah Redshaw, UK Managing Editor for BabyCentre.
"There are names on our extinct list that we might expect to be falling out of favour, but could make great unique names like Maud, Edna and Muriel, Vernon, Elliott and Maurice. Of course, Piers could be on the list for reasons other than fashion."
Redshaw continued: "We predict there will be a rise in superhero names as Marvel and DC films continue to dominate and inspire many more parents to call their baby Thor, Thanos or Sylvie.
"And after the latest Marvel movie Eternals hit cinemas in early November we could even see boys named Ikaris and baby girls called Thena and Sersi.
"But despite all this inspiration it can take a long time for parents to decide on a name. Our poll showed that 8% of parents were still undecided about what to call their baby more than a week after they were born. And however long it takes to decide, many parents – nearly 13% – end up regretting their name choice."
Watch: Most popular baby names Oo 2020 revealed
Top 100 baby boys’ names of 2021
Top 100 baby girls’ names of 2021