Middle Names: 8 Ways to Pick the Perfect One for Your Baby

Don't make second names an afterthought. When it comes to selecting middle names for girls and boys, follow these tips to pick one with flair.

couple looking at baby name list
Photo: Ana Schechter

Finding a first name you and your mate both agree on can be hard enough—which may help explain why so many kiddos get those default "Ann" or "Lynn" middle names. (Are you really honoring Grandma, or did you just run out of creative options?) But your child's middle name is your opportunity to express your personal style and even be a little more daring, since you likely won't be using it on a daily basis. These eight tips can help you pick a good middle name.

1. Go in a different direction.

A middle name is the perfect spot to offer a little insurance for your kiddo. For instance, if you've chosen a traditional first name, you can have more fun with the middle name, pairing classics like Elizabeth or James with middle names like Star or Jet. Conversely, if your baby's first name is a little on the wild side (see: Rainbow or Moxie), consider choosing something more conservative for the middle name, in case your wants to be President of the United States some day.

2. Give it personal meaning.

The middle spot is a perfect place to pay homage to a friend or family member. Because middle names aren't used as frequently, you don't have to worry as much about the name's style quotient—so you can freely give your boy or girl a middle name that's considered a little stale, like Ralph or Gertrude. And if you want to get a family surname in there (perhaps Mom's maiden name?), that's the spot to do it.

3. Pay attention to the flow.

In general, naming experts recommend that you speak the name out loud and consider whether it all sounds melodious together. But avoid having the names flow a little too well together—you don't want the consonant sound at the end of one name flowing right into the next, like Catherine Nell or Jack Colton. It also sounds nicer if the middle name differs in syllable count. So pair a longer name like Jonathan with a short middle, like Lee—and vice versa.

4. Consider one of the top middle names.

While Ann, Lynn, and Marie were the go-to middle names for girls few decades ago, today's hot baby girl middle names include Rose, Jane, Hope, and Grace. As for popular middle baby boy middle names? Look to the classics, like James, Joseph, and Thomas.

5. Two can be better than one.

Can't decide on the perfect middle name? In the United Kingdom, giving your kid two middle names is all the rage—and it works here, too. Just don't go beyond that, or you risk making the name too complex. (Heck, even British royal Prince George only has two middle names!)

6. Mind the monogram.

You don't want to give your kid a monogram that spells out something inappropriate—so make sure you find a middle name that makes for a great set of initials.

7. Consider nicknames.

The middle name can become part of your child's nickname. You could pick one that makes for a nickname-worthy set of initials, like R. J. or J. T. Or incorporate the middle into what you call your child. Mary Elizabeth can be known as Mary Beth, for instance.

8. Have a little fun with it.

Maybe you don't want to pick a middle name as wild as one parents.com reader, whose husband wanted to give their son the middle name "The Great." But if you pick a name that expresses your joy and love for your baby-to-be, you'll have the perfect name.

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