Tips for Choosing a Middle Name

Pregnant woman thinking about baby names

If you are expecting a baby, you are probably spending a lot of time thinking about choosing a middle name. Some people already know what they want for baby's first name but have a difficult time picking what name to go with it. Follow this great advice to help you find the perfect name for you.

The Importance of a Middle Name

The name you give your child is a lifelong gift (unless he or she decides to change it). A child's name is source of power or confidence. Think back to when you were a child and how people reacted to different names. Now as a parent, you are responsible for choosing your child's name. This consists of picking both a first and middle name. The first name is usually the easiest name to decide on, but the middle one can be more challenging.

How to Choose a Middle Name

Once you pick out the first name, the hardest part is coming up with a great name to go with it. There are many different factors you can consider when choosing a middle name, such as meaning, symbolism, or sentiments.

Start by asking yourself if you have any family traditions you would like to follow. Some common family name traditions include:

  • Every child's middle name starts with the same letter
  • The children's middle names go in alphabetical order
  • Every child has the same middle name
  • Each child carries the name of their grandparent

If this is the case, the task of choosing a meaningful middle name just got a little easier. If not, here are some ideas that may help you in your name quest.

Consider How the Full Name Flows

When looking for a name, you want something that flows. Practice saying the potential full name (first, middle and last) a few times and see how it sounds aloud.

Rhythm Patterns

It often helps to have a mix of syllable combinations, though if the consonant sounds flow, you can get away with a rhythm pattern.

  • All one syllable: Jay Lynn Smith
  • All double syllables: Alex William Parker
  • Don't forget triple: Samantha Rosemary Robinson
  • A combination: Alex Jay Smith, Jay William Parker, Michael Thomas Smith

Alliteration

You can also have fun playing with consonant sounds for an alliterative name:

  • Peter Parker Petrow
  • Abigail Ann Anderson

Use a Middle Name Matcher

Visit the Baby Name Genie website to get suggestions of middle names to pair with the first name you have selected. Just fill in the first name, select the gender, and click "get baby middle names."

Avoid Choppy Combinations

Be careful not to come up with a name that sounds silly or choppy when said aloud, so say the name a few times and get a feel for it. Don't be afraid to run it by others to watch their reaction.

Naming After a Loved One

In many religions and cultures, it is common to name your child after someone you love or after someone who is important to you. Depending on the culture, this person may be either alive or has passed away recently. In most cases, the name does not have to be exact, so if you wanted to honor your Grandma Matilda, you don't have to name your child Hope Matilda.

  • Look at the first initial. Some alternatives to Matilda could be Mary, Marie, Matty
  • Use a name that reminds you of Matilda: Tilda, Linda, Ada, Tam
  • Look at your grandma's full name and see if you can find an alternative. If her full name was Matilda Ann Rosen, you could use Ann or Rosen, so your child would be Hope Rosen Parker.

Personality and Name Meaning

If you don't have a tradition or loved one to fall back on, you may want to look at the meaning of the name. Many parents will choose a biblical name to represent their child. Others look at the meaning.

For example:

  • Aaron: Biblical name meaning Enlightened and Messenger
  • Ethan: Strong and firm
  • Samantha: Told by God, Listener
  • Todd: Fox
  • Hannah: Hebrew name meaning Gracious

You can pick a name reflecting traits you want your child to have, or wait until the baby is born and see what names just seem to fit.

Brainstorm Name Ideas

With so many options, you may find it productive to simply brainstorm a list of potential middle names from which to choose. Consider a wide variety of options, from popular baby names to ones that are more exotic, unusual, or unique.

Mother Looking For Her Baby Name

An Alternate Name

In some cultures, your child's middle name may be an alternative he can use if he visits a different country or culture. Many cultures will give their child a native name and an American name, like Jose Michael. If you are set on a particular name but don't think your child will like it, give him a middle name he can use in its place, for example Howard Timothy.

Think About the Initials

When choosing a middle name, keep in mind your child's full initials.

Consider Nickname Potential

Many kids decide to use their first and middle initials as their name. For example:

  • Tommy Jo = TJ
  • Patty Jean = PJ
  • Mark Tyler = MT
  • Andrew Jason= AJ

Avoid Unfortunate Acronyms

Also test the initials for your child's name so he won't get teased and can use monograms:

  • Brad Andrew Dixon = BAD
  • John Ryan King = JRK (jerk)

Some other examples of initials to avoid are:

  • Frank Ulysses King
  • Andrew Simon Smith
  • Steven Edward Xygar

Use Baby Name Generator for the Middle Name

When all else fails, you can use a baby name generator found online to help you find the perfect middle name. Consider this baby name generator that combines the parents' names if you'd like to come up with a unique take on a family name for your child's middle name. Alternately, there are other online generators that can be helpful in choosing a middle name, such as Masterpiece Middle Name Generator.

Choose Wisely

There are plenty of great middle name options for girls and boys alike, as well as gender neutral names. No matter what you decide on for your baby's middle name, make sure it is something you love. After all, your child will have the name for the rest of his or her life.

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Tips for Choosing a Middle Name