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20 Things to Think About When Picking a Middle Name for Your Baby

With middle names, anything goes


From Mom.me

Meaning


Let's face it, naming babies is fun. But most of the brainstorming, research, hand-wringing and opinion-gathering focuses on first names. Middle names, while also important, are often more difficult to select. Here are things to keep in mind before you make your final decision.

What does the middle name mean? A little research into names will help you find options whose meanings might feel important to you.


Family Connection


Are there recurring names in your families? Or special last names that would work well as a middle name? Look through old family photo albums, or talk to relatives. Middle names can break some of the other baby-naming rules, so don't worry about sounding too old-fashioned or too obscure.


Family Tradition


Is there a middle name designated for all first-born children in your family? Or perhaps your family traditionally gives special middle names to kids born in winter or certain days of the week. Or perhaps there's a traditional name that you're not drawn to as a first name but would work perfectly as your child's middle name.


Honoring Someone


When deciding on middle names, make a list of people — relatives, friends, mentors — you might like to honor. Your child will love the connection they have to someone so special to you. The honoree will be moved by such a tribute.


Initials


Of course, before making your final decision, write out the initials and make sure you like how the three (or more) letters fit together. You might want to avoid laughable initials. (Think three-letter swear words and bodily functions.)


Flow


Make sure the full name flows when you say it. While middle names are a fine place for difficult-to-pronounce or -spell names, make sure you like how everything sounds together when you say it. You'll be saying it a lot in the beginning.


Is it Available?


Sharing middle names with your friends' or other family members' kids is less fraught than first names, but it's still a bit of a minefield. It's always best to go with names not yet claimed in your circle.


Spelling


Nontraditional spellings of middle names are less of a pain than unconventional spellings of first names. But still, think about why you might be changing how the middle name is spelled and ask yourself why. If you like your answer, go for it.


Fits With the First Name


Well-chosen middle names fit with the first names they follow. The two names sound nice together and have a kind of flow. Though not an ironclad rule, consider (or reconsider) first and middle names that rhyme, start with the same first letter, contain three or more syllables each, or when strung together sound potentially obnoxious or comical. (Think: Amanda Love and Ben Dover.)


Fits With the Last Name


Equally, make sure the middle name and last name flow together, without any inadvertent secondary meanings or misinterpretations. Depending on last names, double-check how they fit with middle names.


Better as a First Name


Would you secretly like the middle name you're considering to be a first name? When you put everything together, would honoring others, the initials, flow and general daily use of the proposed middle name work a lot better as a first name?


Birth Story


Middle names can be very traditional, or they can be where parents go off-script and bring in unusual elements specific to their child's life. Valentine for a child born on Valentine's Day? Perry for the guy who introduced you and your partner? Paris, honoring the location of your child's conception? (You can tell them when they're older.)


Distinctive


If your partner prefers more traditional first names, middle names are where you can go to have some fun. Why not pick something that's as distinctive as your amazing child? Names can be like mullets — business in the front, party in the back.


Balance Out the First


If you're going very unconventional with the first name, a middle name can set the child up for adult life. Supernova Emily Starr becomes S. Emily Starr in the professional world.


More Than One?


There's no rule that says you can only have one middle name. If you've got two mothers-in-law to honor, then go for it. If you want the kids to have different middle names as well as their mother's last name, you can go for that, too. For future forms and databases, it's best to skip hyphens.


Are Middle Names Necessary?


Children don't necessarily need to have a middle name at all. If middle names are not in your culture, or if you don't want your child to have one for any reason, that's OK, too.


Settle a Name Fight


If you and your partner are fighting over favorite first names, consider designating one as the middle name. Equally, if you have two favorite names or two people you'd like to honor with the birth of your child, play with the order and see which has the nicest flow.


Let Your Child Decide


Why not let your child pick their own middle name? Skip the middle name at birth, and when the child turns 10 or 13 or 18 — whatever significant age — let them make the choice. Be the wacky, cool parents!


Honor Your Culture


Middle names are a great place to honor family culture, whether you were raised in it or not. Look to naming conventions and trends in your culture of origin or your parents' culture of origin. Giving the next generation a connection to their heritage is a great gift.


Twins With Matching Names


Twins with matching or rhyming names isn't much of a trend anymore. But middle names are a great place to honor your twins' twinness. Chloe and Zoe, Madeline and Adeline, Aiden and Cayden, or Daniel and Nathaniel.

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Lifestyle Magazine: 20 Things to Think About When Picking a Middle Name for Your Baby
20 Things to Think About When Picking a Middle Name for Your Baby
With middle names, anything goes
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