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What were the top baby names at Buffalo area hospitals in 2016?

There's going to be a lot of Olivias and Benjamins toddling around the Buffalo area soon.

Catholic Health on Thursday announced the 10 most popular baby names for infants born in 2016 at three of its hospitals, Mercy in South Buffalo, Sisters of Charity in North Buffalo, and Mount St. Mary's in Lewiston.

The top five girls' names were fairly traditional names that have come back into vogue: Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Amelia and Ava. It was the same kind of trend with the five most popular names for boys: Benjamin, Noah, Owen, Liam and James.

Kaleida Health also provided The Buffalo News with a list of the most-popular names of babies born in 2016 at Women & Children's Hospital in Buffalo and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst. Their top 10 baby names there included some of the same names as at Catholic Health's hospitals: Liam, Ava, Charlotte, Cameron, Jackson, Mason, Logan, Benjamin, Jacob and William.

Andrew and Marissa Bannister, of Buffalo, N.Y., with their newborn daughter Freyja at Mercy Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Old First Ward residents Marissa and Andrew Bannister bucked the trend with the delivery Tuesday at Mercy Hospital of their 8.5-pound bundle of joy, whom they decided to call Freyja, pronounced FRAY-uh.

"Freyja is a Norse goddess," said Andrew Bannister. "She's the goddess of love and war and fertility. My heritage is from Norway, so those kind of sensibilities always kind of stuck with me."

He described it as a spiritual choice to have settled upon that particular name, given the state of the world today as he and his wife see it. The seeming contradiction and duality inherent in a goddess who represents both love and war is not lost on them.

"It was basically about taking a look at the condition of the world as it is. Part of the mystique of Freyja is that, in battle there is a common bond that unites even enemies. It's like this mutual humanity, where when the war is over, people still have to come back together," Andrew Bannister said.

Like many parents, the Bannisters have big dreams for their newborn daughter, whose main focus Thursday was nursing. The Bannisters did not know the sex of their baby before she was born, but Marissa Bannister took an immediate liking to the name after her husband announced it as a suggestion.

"She's going to replace Princess Leia," Marissa Bannister said, in reference to the "Star Wars" character portrayed in the film series by the late actress Carrie Fisher.

"Better than asking her to replace Rex Ryan," added Feyja's dad, inserting another topical reference for levity.

Joy Kent, nurse manager in the maternity unit at Mercy, has seen popular trends in names come and go over the years at the hospital.

"They're going back to the older names, the Marys and Margarets, which is nice. Elizabeths and Emerys are still in there, along with the Emmas and the Sarahs, traditional names. For probably the last seven or eight years, we've had the Jadens, Bradens, Aidens and Kaidens, and all those variations. Now we're trending back to the Michaels, Marks and the Matthews," said Kent.

She struggled to recall the most unusual name she had ever come across.

"We had a name that was made up of initials. It spelled out something I don't really remember, but it was strange to look at. You really had to sound it out," Kent said.

Collette Campese and her husband Jeff, of Dunkirk, with their newborn son Cove, and his older brother Emery, at Mercy Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Collette and Jeffery Campese of Dunkirk picked an unusual name for their son - Cove - who also was born Tuesday in Mercy Hospital.

"We really like unique things. Even when we were dating, before we got married, if we both actually liked a name-- which emerges as uncommon-- we would save it. So Cove was actually the name of a lead singer that my husband liked," Collette Campese explained.

Surrounded Thursday by his parents, big brother Emery and paternal grandparents, Patty and Dennis Campese, little Cove was oblivious to the new moniker that will be attached to him, perhaps uniquely, for the rest of his life. Cove has a meaning - a small, sheltered bay area - and projects the right aesthetic as well as the hopes the Campeses have for their newborn.

Amanda Diehl is seen with her newborn daughter Ariel Jolynn Baez at Mercy Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Amanda Diehl took a more whimsical approach in the naming of her new daughter, Ariel Baez.

"Her father and her brother's name both is Sebastian,"Amanda Diehl said, explaining that the reference for both names were principal characters in the 1989 Disney animated film, "The Little Mermaid."

"So I wanted, you know, a Disney theme, but I always loved the name," Diehl added.

One trend that Kent has noticed recently is some parents taking a lot longer than usual to name their children before the new mom and baby are discharged from the hospital.

" A lot of babies have been named on the day of discharge. With the advent of multiple sonograms, they usually know what the name is going to be before they get here, but the last three or four months we've had a bunch of people that leave the hospital and don't name the baby until that day," said Kent.

Parents can change their minds on a name, which happens in rare cases, she said, but they're not permitted to leave the hospital without first providing their baby with a name for the hospital's records , which is attached to a birth certificate.

10 most-popular baby names in 2016

These are the top baby names for girls and boys at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Sisters of Charity Hospital and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital - all run by Catholic Health.





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