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Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Find Baby Name Data: Rankings, Number of Births, State-Specific Data, and Information on Names Outside the Top 1000

Lindsay writes:
I'm very interested in researching the popularity of the two names we've paired it down to. In your postings, I keep seeing "in 2010, there were X babies born with that name" and "X were in your state." Where can I get this precise info? All I find is rankings. Also, I saw you mention to someone that 2011 name statistics would be available in May 2012 -- are they out yet? And if so, where can I find them??

[Sigh: ONE WEEK after I posted this, the Social Security website completely changed its format. I may or may not have the heart to re-write this after I get used to all the changes!]

I use The Social Security Administration for all baby name data of this sort. (Some baby name sites publish their own lists, but those are based only on information collected from visitors to that site---and only on what those visitors SAY they named their children.)

I'll give links where possible (it's one of those sites where not every page has its own link), but also give instructions so you can find things without the links.

Current top-ten name rankings are on the first page you come to.

To get information on a specific name's rank over the years, look to the lower right under "Popularity of a Name." To see ranking lists from other years, look to the lower left under "Popular Names By Birth Year."

For limited state-specific information, click that link I just made, or else look in the lefthand margin of the main page, under the category Baby Name Data.

To get information on names outside the Top 1000:

1. Go to the lefthand margin of the main page, under Baby Name Data. Click on "Background Information."
2. Look again in the lefthand margin and click on "Beyond the top 1000 names."
3. Click on either National Data or State-Specific Data to download those documents.

To get the number of babies born with a certain name in a certain year, you can look in those downloaded documents. OR, you can go to the main page, on the lower left under "Popular Names by Birth Year," and select "Number of births" before hitting the "Go" button. Each name listed will be followed by the number of females/males given that name in that year.

The 2011 data has not yet been released. When it is (usually in the first two weeks of May), it will update automatically on the Social Security Administration's site.


Kerri said...

I have another question relating to this... Do you know if this include only first names, or do they throw in middle names too? So if someone named their son _____ Jacob, would that count as one name for Jacob? Thanks!!! :)

Swistle said...

Kerri- It's first names only.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I've been using the social security site for a long time now, but I could never figure out how to look outside of the top 1000! This is great!

Anonymous said...

The new data is usually released the Friday before Mother's Day, so this Friday!

Lindsay said...

I'll be scouring this for hours! Thanks for the reply, Swistle. We've got just 2 weeks to name this baby, and while I'd hoped for a poll to help me determine which of our 2 choices would be more unique, I'm glad I can at least look at the trends over past years to help guide us.

Patricia said...

Why not a poll right here? I'd love to hear what your two unique names are.

Lindsay said...

Patricia - I'll take all the help I can get, as long as Swistle doesn't mind. (Feel free to remove this if it's not ok!)

The 2 names we've narrowed it down to are: Annika and Celeste*.

We have a 2yr old named Soleil and really want another rare name for baby #2 (we've not met another Soleil). We've preferred Annika, but my concern is that it may get trendy/popular, and I wonder if Celeste may have less chance of becoming so. Thoughts?

* Annika would be pronounced Ann-ick-uh, not Awn-icka. Nicknamed Nika. Middle name Claire. Celeste's middle name would be Johanna, nicknamed CJ.

Anonymous said...

Ooh I like Annika! I think it's much more unique than Celeste, as I know a few Celeste's in their 20s-30s. Although Soliel and Celeste fit together with their sun and stars meaning. Both are lovely choices!

Pocket said...

You can also make your own baby name poll at You have the option of making it a public poll on their website (warning: their readers aren't always the nicest), or just sending it to your own family/friends. For the record, I love Annika!

Anonymous said...

I would also put in a vote for Annika. Especially if you ever plan of having more. Annika opens it up a little more where Celeste boxes you into a certain type of name for the next. But Annika still goes great with Soleil.

Patricia said...

I'm guessing that Celeste is far less used than Annika: looking at SSA stats I see that in 2010 (most recent stats until Friday) 668 baby girls were named Celeste, ranking the name at #457 in the top 1000 names, while Annika was given to 643 baby girls, putting the name at #467. BUT that is misleading because Annika is being spelled more than one way and with combined spellings, Annika ranks at #273:
"273 1416 [total] Annika (643), Anika (536), Anica (31), Anneke (29), Annaka (24), Anneka (21), Aunika (20), Aanika (18), Annica (15), Anikah (10), Ahnika (9), Onika (9), Onica (8), Anaka (8), Aunica (7), Annikah (6), Aniqa (6), Aneeqa (6), Anyka (5), Onnika (5)"
On this combined spellings list, Celeste -- with basically just that spelling -- ranks 455: "455 695 [total] Celeste (668), Celest (17), Seleste (10)

So we're *hearing* Annika more than Celeste, and I would say that Celeste is the more unique/less well known name.

That said, I would vote for Annika for your baby. Soleil and Celeste both begin with the "S" sound and have the second syllable beginning with "L". For me, the names sound too similar. I think Soleil and Annika go very well together, each with its European flair. You said you would call Annika "Nika" -- which makes me wonder if your older daughter has a nn too.

I know a young Annika; her name is pronounced as Ah-nika. I think that pronunciation is very pretty and maybe more European than An - nika. gives the pronunciation as:
GENDER: Feminine
USAGE: Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, German, English (Modern)
PRONOUNCED: AHN-nee-kah (Dutch), AH-nee-kah (German)

Swedish diminutive of ANNA

Anonymous said...

Annika was really popular/trendy when the new star war movies first came out. Celeste is really popular in Utah and surrounding states. just info I thought you should be aware of.

Lindsay said...

Wow, thank you for all the feedback, everyone! I certainly didn't expect so many people would read my comment, let alone reply.

I will check out that poll option. We prefer not to tell our family/friends our name choice, but I don't mind a bit of public criticism.

Patricia - That's helpful info! I had a feeling Annika may be pretty popular once the spelling alternatives were all considered. And that's what gives me pause about using it. On the other hand, the points made about Celeste being perhaps TOO close to Soleil are something I hadn't considered.

By the way, Soleil doesn't really have a nickname. We call her Punky (we called her that before birth so as not to spoil the name choice), as the actress who played Punky Brewster was named Soleil. :) We've called this baby Pippi, as Annika is the name of Pippi Longstocking's friend. :) Nika would just be an occasional nickname for Annika, if we used it, as I'd prefer to usually use her full name.

Anyway, again, thank you soooo much for all the feedback. Anyone else, please chime in with your thoughts/predictions on the future popularity of these 2 names.

Lindsay said...

Oh, for what it's worth, we're in Iowa. Here's the info I gathered from Swistle's link:

ANNIKA - How many born in Iowa?
(from 2000 on in IA: 147)
(from 2005 on in IA: 80)

CELESTE - How many born in Iowa?
(from 2000 on: 29)
(from 2005 on: 11)

phancymama said...

While Annika feels a bit more common/known to me, it also feels more timeless. I have the feeling Celeste is going to become more trendy, since I feel like it is similar to the antique names that are experiencing a revival. (I love the antique names and would adore using Celeste, but our last name begins with Ste-, so it does not work phonetically. And I had a German friend in high school in the mid-90s named Anneke, and loved that too.)
So I don't think you can go wrong either way. I like what others above said about considering if you will have more kids--using Celeste does rope you into a similar sound more so than Annika does. But if you will only have the two, then the meanings of Celeste goes better. But the two are hard to say without getting tongue twisted. Have you asked Soleil her choice (for fun)?
In the end, my vote in the poll would be for Annika, but are both are wonderful names. Have you read Swistle's post on Choosing Between Two Finalists? (Or similar title)
Good Luck!

Lindsay said...

phancymama - We made the mistake of telling Soleil the baby's name would be Annika before having 2nd thoughts. So she's been calling the baby "baby Nika" for months. (That may seal the deal, eh?) She can say Celeste, though, too, if prompted.

I'm surprised to hear someone think Annika is more timeless and may become less trendy than Celeste. That would be fantastic! :)

And we do plan to have at least one more child, eventually.

I didn't know about that posting by Swistle. I'll look for it! Sounds helpful! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My prediction is that Celeste will become far more popular than Annika very soon. For what it's worth, I don't know any baby with either of those names currently. (indiana) BUT it seems like all of the pregnant girls I know, myself included, have had Celeste on our "lists," along with names like Cecily, Cecilia, Celia, etc. I think Celeste has a sound that lots of people like right now. I prefer Celeste, but I think Annika will remain less common.

Angie said...

Personally, I feel both Annika and Celeste are fine names, and neither one feels too trendy.

From my frame of reference, Celeste seems more timeless to me, because while it has gone up in recent years, it never left the top 1000.

Annika, on the other hand, was never in the top 1000 until 1996. It peaked in 2003, and now is gently trending down.

I went to the Baby Name Wizard Namipedia site where people can submit real-life sibling names for pretty much any name under the sun.

Here's some of the more unusual real-life sister names for Soleil:

Atika - sort of like Annika, but different
Giah - how to pronounce?
Luna - Soleil and Luna are a guilty pleasure pairing for me.
Moon - Soleil and Moon are too obvious

Personally Giah and Tavae fall under the "too different" category for my tastes.

My favorites are Acadia, Atika, and Octavia.

There were other sisters mentioned, but I don't think they had the surprise element you were going for: Aubrie, Chloe, Claire, Gabriella, Naomi, and Sky.

Then there were a couple that I found dated: Jackie and Johnette.

Leighton was also mentioned, but Soleil and Leighton, as a pair, seems a little off.

Lindsay said...

Angie - What a neat site! Let's see, my husband likes Luna but I felt it was too obvious and too hippy of a combo, plus may leave us pretty stumped when baby #3 comes along. Acadia = a car, to me. Atika is alright, but so close to Annika and it removes our potential "Nika" nickname. Octavia just keeps reminding me of Octo-mom for some reason. Moving down, Leighton reminded me of the 3rd choice that we recently dropped from our list -- Laiken. I still like it but it has a similar sound to some trendy names, and I feared it'd lean that way. Anyway, thanks! I really need to check out that site!

Anonymous said...

I like Annika better, but for what it's worth we know two under two, plus an Anneliese. We don't know any Celestes. (Not in Iowa, though.) I don't think either is going to get super popular, though. We have a name in the mid 200s as well, and so far it's meant encountering 3-4 others under age five, but so far none in my son's cohort. Not a big deal at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm in New England, and I know about four Annikas, although one of them spells it with a single N. I think the big disadvantage they (or their parents) have found is the pronunciation question -- it's kind of a crapshoot whether people will call them AHN-ika or ANN-ika (or occasionally even a-NEE-ka!), and sometimes they get tired of correcting people. But it is a lovely name.

I don't know any Celestes. I love it, although I would worry that Celeste and Soleil are too similar, both phonetically and thematically.

If it were me, I might consider Astrid as a sister for Soleil -- it has the Northern European vibe of Annika (and the Pippi link!!!), but is much less trendy, and the crisp sound of Celeste without the S-L issue. (And it even has a little echo of the sky theme, without being too obvious about it.)