If the 50th state holds special meaning to parents, a Hawaiian baby name like Kai or Leilani might be among their top choices.
Often deeply rooted in culture, Hawaiian names for babies are not new, but have grown in popularity in the past decade for mainland moms and dads.
"Hawaiian baby names first became trendy when Barack Obama was president," baby naming consultant Pamela Redmond of the baby name website Nameberry told TODAY Parents. "Hawaii was his home state and his older daughter Malia had a Hawaiian name, the Hawaiian form of Mary."
In 2007, the year before Obama took office, there were approximately 800 baby girls named Malia
"In 2021 there were 1,200," Redmond said.
Redmond explained the Disney film "Moana" also had a big influence on the popularity of Hawaiian names, and nature names continue to be popular.
"Many Hawaiian names having nature meanings," Redmond explained.
Top 5 Hawaiian boy names and their meanings
Kai: An international name with origins and meanings in several cultures, with the primary one being Hawaiian for sea.
Koa: Hawaiian for warrior.
Kane: Another international name, the Hawaiian pronunciation is kah-nay and it means “man of the Eastern sky.”
Keanu: A name whose celebrity influence was slow to catch on, but of Hawaiian origin meaning “cool breeze over the mountains.”
Nakoa: A top 100 boys’ name in Hawaii itself, meaning "the warriors."
"Nakoa became more popular after Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa used it for their son," Redmond said.
Top 5 Hawaiian girl names and their meanings
Kaia: The popularity of Kai, which is sometimes also used for girls, undoubtedly also influenced the emergence of Kaia, as did the model Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford.
Lilia: A multinational name with Hawaiian roots among others.
Leilani: Perhaps the best-known distinctively Hawaiian girls’ name meaning “heavenly flower.”
Naia: An international name meaning “dolphin” in Hawaiian.
Malia: The Obamas popularized this Hawaiian form of Mary.
Top 50 Hawaiian baby names